Title: Nowhere Ranch
Author: Heidi Cullinan
Publisher: Loose ID
Buy Link: Buy Nowhere Ranch Here!
Rating: You Gotta Read
Reviewed by: Layne
Roe Davis is a man who works hard, keeps to himself, and never mixes business with pleasure -- until he takes a weekend away from his new job at Nowhere Ranch and runs into the owner at the only gay bar for two hundred miles. Getting involved with the boss is a bad idea, but Travis Loving is hard to say no to, especially when it turns out their kinks line up like a pair of custom-cut rails. As Loving points out, so long as this is sex on the side, no interfering with the job, they could make it work.
The truth is, there's good reason Roe never settles down and always spends his birthdays and holidays celebrating alone. Shut out in the cold by his family years ago, Roe survived by declaring he didn't need a home. As his affair with Loving grows into more than just sex, Roe finds out what happens when he stays put a little bit too long: the past always catches up with you. Eventually, even a loner gets lonely, and home will grow up through whatever cracks you leave open for it -- even in a place called Nowhere.
It's the rare author who makes me cry. I've read it all, or so I thought. Truth be told, I still am not sure of the full reason behind those tears as I reached the end of Nowhere Ranch. I choke up now as I write the review. What Ms. Cullinan did was make me feel for Roe and Travis in a way I'm not sure I fully grasp. It's a fullness I feel and I think Roe does as he chronicles his life and choices that took him to Nowhere Ranch and to Travis. It's a coming home, a final acceptance of who you are, and what you feel, when the people who're supposed to love you without conditions attach strings to their feelings for you. It's about opening yourself by slow degrees, physically, to someone and allowing yourself to be vulnerable, banking on them to keep you upright when your knees may otherwise fold. And it's about loving. Losing that battle, even after all the blocks you're erected to protect yourself.
All Roe wants from Travis is the no-strings sex. And it works for a while. But Roe has a thing about leaving. I suspect he's been searching for that one place or person to which he can belong, though he doesn't realize it. Travis says he only wants to own Roe's body, have his pleasure whenever-however, but the instant he commands Roe to stay when he'd have run off, we see all ideals have already changed. The sex is explosive as each meets the other's needs and it's beautiful to watch them. Travis masters Roe's body and burrows himself under Roe's skin and in both our hearts.
Outside of the bedroom, Roe has his insecurities. Uneducated, he sees himself as less than next to Travis and the rest. I love that he's constantly disabused of that notion and takes active steps to elevate himself. For him and nobody else. Though I'd have loved to get into Travis' head, Ms. Cullinan allows him to speak through his words, but most important through his actions and treatment of Roe so there's no doubt of how he feels.
In the supporting characters, Haley had me cheering as she appoints herself Roe's champion. And she does it so well, I loved her for it. The gift she bestows on the men, I saw it coming, because it is who she is, but I still cried.
Great character development and an awesome flow. The angst and conflict was well thought out, and executed perfectly. I was hooked throughout this story and it's how I'd want all my M/M stories to read. I applaud Ms. Cullinan for holding me tightly in this story's embrace and never letting me go even after The End.