His Fresh Start Cowboy by A.M. Arthur
Woods Ranch #1
LGBTQ Contemporary Romance
January 25, 2022, by Carina Press
Review by Angela
It’s been a while since I’ve read a good cowboy romance and this cover called to me as soon as I saw it while putting together the new release list. I noticed that it was labeled as being first in a series so I decided to jump right in. Come to find out this is actually the first book in a spin-off series, with quite a few of the secondary characters making an appearance in the Clean Slate Ranch books. No worries, though, that didn’t seem to matter one bit other than to get me interested in reading this author’s backlist.
Hugo Turner is working at the Clean Slate Ranch where he is comfortable and enjoys quite a few friendships. But when his boss happens to mention that his brother back in Texas is looking for help, he decides on the fly to put in an application and see what happens. He’s apprehensive, after all, he left Texas ten years ago right after his 18th birthday, and hasn’t looked back. There are just too many bad memories surrounding his family and one big time crush that dashed all his hopes. But he needs to put some of those bad memories to rest, so he takes the job and heads to the Woods Ranch.
Brand Woods never wanted to be a full-time rancher, but after his older brother left home, the duty has fallen to him. So his life now revolves around keeping the ranch afloat financially and hooking up, but never really settling down with anyone. He’s bi-sexual, but keeps it mostly to himself, he has two friends with benefits relationships, and that suits him just fine. Then the man who started him wondering about his sexuality shows up to work and he has both a sense of dread and excitement.
At first, I wondered if these two would ever get together. There is a whole lot of tentativeness and unease around these two. Brand isn’t out to anyone but his two casual hook-ups, and I don’t think he knew just how to make Hugo understand that he was interested. Hugo is kind of waiting for the next shoe to drop as almost everyone in his life has let him down at some point, and he exposed his attraction to Brand ten years prior and was rebuffed. It does take them a while to figure it out and then to open up enough to be more than just casual. And I will admit that I had some anxiety about how Brand’s family would react once they found out about his and Hugo’s relationship, especially with the story about Brand’s older brother, but was happy with the way they rallied around them and accepted Hugo as part of the family.
This story was alternatingly sweet, sexy, and heartbreaking. But there is a HEA that left Hugo and Brand in a good place. I look forward to seeing where this series goes next.
Final grade- B-