Reviewed by Vicki
TITLE: Pulling Leather
SERIES: Pickup Men #3
AUTHOR: L.C. Chase
PUBLISHER: Riptide Publishing
LENGTH: 177 pages
The toughest ride of his life is all in his head.
Bull rider Scott Gillard has a reputation for quick fists and harsh words. What no one knows is where that anger comes from. After a shocking incident sends him into a tailspin, he knows he needs help: he’s been fighting a battle he could never win. Now he’s trying navigate a new life and embrace his true self, but some days are easier than others.
Pickup man Cory Ackerson has suffered his share of harassment, but his light still burns bright. He doesn’t let anything or anyone keep him down, so when he meets the rugged cowboy with a battered chip on his shoulder and regret in his dark eyes, all he wants to do is help.
As their unlikely friendship grows into something deeper, Scott must overcome his past to be the man Cory deserves, or lose his best chance at his own happily ever after.
I do love a damaged cowboy story! And this is a good one…
This is the third book in L.C. Chase’s Pickup Men series, which centers around a group of rodeo men, as they deal with being gay in a not gay friendly environment. We meet Scott Gillard in the first book, Pickup Men, and he is not a nice person. He is a homophobic ass, mean and nasty and hiding a dark secret. He’s involved in the beating that ultimately ends Tripp Colby’s bullriding career, but not in the way everyone thinks. His reputation is shot, he’s damaged mentally, and leaves the rodeo circuit all together. His one time love interest, now best friend Brandi, let’s him move in with her and they settle down to sorting Scott’s issues out and making him a better person.
Two years later he heads to the home of Tripp and his partner Marty, to make amends. This goes better than he is expecting, and Tripp suggests that Scott help him the following weekend at a gay rodeo event. Scott is not sure this is a good idea, but Brandi convinces him to do it. He is met with a combination of outright antagonism and hatred, and a bit of compassion and understanding. He also sees the bright shining light known as Cory Ackerson.
Cory appeared in the second book, as an extra character, a wonderful little bit of bright and happy. I remember him, and was hoping we would see him again. Cory is a Pickup Man, part of the team that rounds up the bull in a bullriding event, after the bullrider has come off the bull. They are the men that keep the rider safe, distracting the bull if the rider has been injured or is having a hard time getting out of the arena. Cory is a ball of energy, small and compact, with bright blue eyes. He sees Scott, and is drawn to him, trying so hard to not give in to the gossip he hears about him, but to give him a chance on his own. Unfortunately Scott is a hard man to reach, with some serious issues Cory may not be able to deal with.
Oh but they try! Cory is so patient, Scott is so stubborn, and it is a wonderful mess of a story and relationship. Scott gets closer to Cory, freaks out and backs off. Cory is sure he can be patient, then gets frustrated and runs. Scott has family issues to deal with, as well as coming out to himself and everyone else. He’s not even able to say “I’m gay” to himself, much less out loud. He wants Cory so bad, but just can’t go there. Or can he? Back and forth we go. He talks shit to other cowboys, not wanting anyone to know he’s gay, then defends Cory when someone talks about him. Kisses then pulls away. It drove me nuts in such a great way!
L.C. knows how to write a good cowboy story, and a damaged cowboy at that. This book is really about Scott, we know him better, see in to his brain and life. We don’t get to know Cory as well, the perspective does jump back and forth, but Cory doesn’t really seem to have any issues other than an overprotective brother, so he’s not as dramatic to read. He’s the light to Scott’s dark. The other books were that way as well, I think, one heavier character with the bulk of the issues, one lighter character to counterbalance all the crap one provides. I like that. Two main characters with issues can be a bit much to handle sometimes. Cory adds just what this story needs, a nice lightness. And Scott needs that. He is so fucked up.
So lots of drama, lots of will they won’t they, Scott dealing with external drama and creating his own, with poor Cory dragged along for the ride. And us as well. It was great. I loved every bit of it, from Scott’s drama, Cory’s lightness, the action, the story, the rodeo bits, and the sex. There isn’t a lot of sex, which sometimes bothers me, but not in this book. What there is works so well and is so appropriate for the men involved. The main characters are great, but so are the additional ones. Even the ones I hated were perfect. Just what the story needed.
If you haven’t read this series, take the time to start with Pickup Men and Let it Ride before you read this one. You could probably read this one on it’s own, but why? The other books were great! I read Pickup Men before I started reviewing for Love Bytes, but I did review Let it Ride. Click HERE to see my review. All three of these books are fantastic, I actually googled gay rodeos yesterday, but there aren’t any near me!
If you are a cowboy fan, a rodeo fan, or a fan of the strong damaged man storyline, read this book!