Disclaimer: I received an advanced electronic copy of this book from the author.
One of the things I love most about Kelly Fox’s book series is how each focuses on a different romance subgenre but still exists in the same shared world. I was sucked into the drama of a gym that supports disabled vets (Wrecked) and loved the excitement of a group of vigilantes on the side of good (Wrecked: Guardians), but…cowboys? Not really my thing. Except Fox has proven time and again that her writing is not to be missed, so I eagerly dove into this book. I think this novel works as a stand-alone to those coming to this series as a new reader, but those who have read the Wrecked: Guardians series (especially Full Contact) will be delighted to find that Sam is one of the main characters here.
Sam’s hustling days are over, and he’s found himself adopted into the open-minded (in more ways than one) Bash family who support his cam work as a way to fund his higher education goals. Sam keeps his online work solo but finds plenty of inspiration next door, especially in the form of rancher Trip Goodnight. Sam and Trip have an epic official meet-cute when Trip rescues Sam from a possible rattlesnake bite. However, where Sam expects the typical alpha-male response to his obvious gayness, he instead ends up developing a genuine friendship with kind-hearted Trip (and with delightful secondary character Desi, Trip’s uncle). Sam is content with these friendships, happy to have this social outlet—especially since he’s hiding from a dangerous past.
Trip’s life changes dramatically after he meets Sam, also happy to have his new neighbor’s friendship. Life has been hard for the past year, so coming out of the other side of the more difficult stages of mourning his mother is obviously why his libido is picking up, right?
But don’t worry, this isn’t a cringy “gay for you” romance. Fox uses the friendship between Sam and Trip to explore under-represented labels on the sexuality spectrum. By the time our two heroes finally recognize what readers are more than ready for at this point (with so much swooning along the way), their happily ever after is more than deserved. Fox weaves this developing relationship into multiple external plots that affect Sam and Trip with just as much emotional impact as the romance arc. The level of drama might not be quite to the class as what the Guardians get up to, but Fox once again provides her readers with an epic love story with layers of conflict that only add to the world she has already created. (And I’m certainly never going to be mad at a few Anders cameos along the way.)
PS: Fox gets bonus points for all the fun Star Trek references and for being the first romance writer I’ve read so far to give a character a Tesla vehicle and not treat it as a standard combustion engine vehicle.