Okay, here I go again – there is no way in hell the dude on the cover, leaning back against the wall, is Wes! Wes was described as tall, lean, with blonde hair so pale it was almost white, and wore loud and bright clothes. And Mack, if that is Mack, would never be standing outside -where guests could see him- with his shirt flapping open in the breeze. Does the design team even think of the book contents when they’re making these choices?? I don’t get it.
Ahem. Sorry for my rant. It’s just a pet peeve of mine. Anyway, now that I’ve gotten it out of my system let’s talk about the actual book.
I haven’t read a lot of cowboy romance novels. At this moment, without researching, I can only think of three. I noticed some of my Goodreads friends were giving Wild Trail pretty good reviews, and the setting of a Dude Ranch really piqued my interest. (Little Birdie fact, one that probably ages me, but when I was a little girl I was an enormous fan of a show called Hey Dude! on Nickelodeon. I’ve always wanted to vacation on a Dude Ranch.) I was confident Wild Trail was a decent bet, and I was right.
I liked how Wes and Mack didn’t jump into bed immediately. It took time for Wes to get beyond Mack’s walls and gruff exterior, and even once they were physical it still took a bit of time for both men to recognize it wasn’t just some vacation fling. They had genuine feelings for each other, and even though both were gun shy (that’s Dude Ranch lingo, obvi) after having been burned before they still mostly allowed those feelings to bloom.
I also enjoyed the friendship between Mack and his two best friends, Colt and Reyes. It was this friendship in particular that’s going to keep me coming back to the Clean Slate Ranch for more. I can already see where the next two books will go, for both Colt and Reyes, and I already know I want to read them.
(Side note here: is it mandatory for all cowboy or western themed novels to have a dude named Colt in them? Being a Michigander, perhaps I’m just not aware of the vast ocean of men named Colt West of the Mississippi.)
I also have to warn you, or anyone who may be interested in this read, Wild Trail wasn’t without flaws. Some of the twists in the story felt cliched. When you didn’t see them coming it was mostly because it was too obvious, too blatant. Also, the attraction between Wes and Mack felt more sexual than emotional. There are probably a lot of readers out there who love this, but I’m more into emotional intimacy than I am physical intimacy. There were times Wes and Mack were emotionally connected, but it was almost always overshadowed by the need to get physical.
Still, it was a fun book, a light read right when I needed one. Like eating a piece of ginger after spicy tuna rolls, it was a palate cleanser between my harder/deeper (pun TOTALLY intended) reads. I really enjoyed it.
Thank you to Carina Press for providing a free ARC in exchange for an honest review.