Title: Crooked Tree Ranch
Series: Montana #1
Author: R.J. Scott
Genre: M/M Romance
Release Date: November 16, 2015
When a cowboy meets the guy from the city, he can’t know how much things will change.
On the spur of the moment, with his life collapsing around him, Jay Sullivan answers an ad for a business manager with an expertise in marketing, on a dude ranch in Montana. With his sister, Ashley, niece, Kirsten and nephew, Josh, in tow, he moves lock stock and barrel from New York to Montana to start a new life on Crooked Tree Ranch.
Foreman and part owner of the ranch, ex rodeo star Nathaniel ‘Nate’ Todd has been running the dude ranch, for five years ever since his mentor Marcus Allen became ill. His brothers convince him that he needs to get an expert in to help the business grow. He knows things have to change and but when the new guy turns up, with a troubled family in tow – he just isn’t prepared for how much.
“… This is a beautiful love story between two men, each with secrets they are afraid to reveal. …”
I have a signed print copy of this book and this tour was the perfect opportunity for me to read it. I love the feeling of a real book in my hands and the smell of a real book. It does make a difference. While I love my kindle, it feels special to have something tangible in my hands from time to time. I have the first edition of this book, but I love both the old cover and the new cover you can see here.
I have read A LOT of cowboy books in this genre and I understand their attraction. The connection to nature, the independence, the hard muscles, dirt and sweat. Cowboys are a physical representation of masculinity and that is true whether the cowboy is straight or gay or whatever. Still, once you have read a lot of these books, you will probably find the same kind of themes and some books start to blend together.
This isn’t the first story I have read about a city guy coming to work on a ranch and falling for the cowboy he had a rough start with. Opposites attract, right? However, I will always remember theses characters, their relationships and the wonderful family they form. If a story is well-written it can stand apart from the rest, even if the initial set-up is similar to them.
There is a reason RJ Scott is one of my favorite authors. This is not just a romance, it is a story about family. You can feel the love the author has for every character and it is easy for readers to see why. They aren’t perfect, have problems, make mistakes, but in the end they are there for each other. Even with all their jagged edges, they fit together like puzzle pieces and form a wonderful picture.
The story reminded me of the series Everwood, which I have always loved. Jay was successful working in the big city and after his move, his work becomes more personal and he is able to not just find love and happiness in the new place, but connect to his family in a new and meaningful way.
I love that the author has taken her time in bringing Jay and Nate together. There are stories where the initial set-up is just something to get over to bring the characters together as soon as possible and get to the hot sex. For me it is important, though, to understand what leads them to each other. Why would a talented marketing guy move to a ranch in Montana on a small salary to help a ranch to turn a profit again?
We learn about the problems the farm has, which have been kept a secret but do not come as a complete surprise. We learn about Nate taking responsibility of the ranch and his brothers after his parents died and learn what kind of man Nate is and what kind of relationship he has with the farm and his brothers.
In New York, we see Jay loose his job due to cutbacks, even though he is talented and was very successful for the firm. He is one of the many people in his firm out of a job and the competition in the job market is fierce, especially since there are no openings in his field. We are introduced to his sister, who has had bad luck with men and is depressedand scared. We meet his emotionally withdrawn niece, who hides behind her goth look and his nephew, whose abusive father has just been released from prison. We also learn about Jay’s ex-boyfriend and the emotional scars of his past and when fate pushes him towards Montana, it just made sense to me that he would say yes.
To be honest, if the author had just written that the farm needed a marketing guy and that guy just appeared out of nowhere, happy with the low salary, but talented and perfect in every way, it would have sounded weird to me. Hard to believe. But RJ Scott did not just make the story more believable to me, she took the opportunity to really get to know both guys and their family, before they ever lay eyes on each other. The whole story feels more authentic for it.
This is a comfort read. You will fall in love with the characters and the story will warm your heart, not rip it apart. The journey of these two and their families finding their way together is beautiful. There are many serious challenges in their way, but they overcome them together. For me the characters and their struggles and dreams felt realistic, but the author was able to give them the perfect place and perfect people to understand, heal and complete them. The perfect marriage between realism and fantasy. Romance at its best.
9/10 Pots of Gold (90% Recommended) – Compares to 4.5/5 Stars
“This series is a winner because of it’s cowboy theme – who can resist a gorgeous cowboy!” – Because Two Men Are Better Than One
“I always enjoy cowboy stories and, as you would expect from RJ, this one is smoothly well-written and pulls you forward chapter by chapter.” – Goodreads Reviewer
“This story pushed every button that makes me fall in love with a book.” – Goodreads Reviewer
“ This wonderful story reminded me of exactly why I fell in love with RJ Scott’s storytelling.” – Goodreads Reviewer
At one point, when he was trying not to stare at the dancing, he spotted Liam across the room and they exchanged heated looks. Nate recalled the young guy bending over for him the last time he was here. Maybe he could get some more of that tonight. Maybe fucking Liam into the mattress would stop the irritating thought that he wanted to fuck Jay instead. Or that he wanted Jay to do the same thing to him.
Jay made it through three tracks of music, and when he made no sign of moving from his place alongside two men, Nate had to make a move. He sucked it up and joined the fray.
Nate was immediately swallowed into the crowd and instinctively began moving to the beat of the song as he walked closer. When he finally made it to Jay’s side, he patted him on the shoulder. Jay spun on his heel and Nate held out a hand to steady him.
“Cowboy!” Jay shouted over the music.
In a sinuous movement, Jay gripped one of Nate’s shoulders and shuffled closer so that very little separated them. The two men dancing with Jay drifted off to face other dancers, and suddenly it seemed like it was just Nate and Jay swaying to the music.
“You need to be careful!” Nate shouted close to his ear.
“Why?” Jay shouted back.
His breath smelled of beer and his body scent was a mix of the infuriating aftershave mingled with sweat and dust. Suddenly Jay became a four-course meal and Nate was very hungry.
“Keep your eyes open,” Nate warned.
As if to make that comment mean nothing, Jay deliberately closed his eyes and moved to the beat of the music. Somewhere along the line, Jay had lost his bottle of beer, or finished it, or whatever. He had both hands free, and he used them to steady himself by gripping hard to Nate’s shoulders. He had closed his eyes and was mouthing the words along with the song. Was he aware it was Nate holding him? He’d said “cowboy,” they’d spoken, but there were a lot of cowboys mixed in with the bikers and the other varied clientele.
“Open your eyes, Jay,” Nate shouted over the music.
Jay did as Nate had asked, and Nate was suddenly seeing brown eyes glazed with emotion. Then Jay smiled and closed his eyes again.
Instinctively Nate steadied Jay and that meant his hands rested on Jay’s hips. The feel of the man beneath his touch was intoxicating and Nate held hard. Jay fit into his arms perfectly: a little shorter, a little slimmer, just the right height, and his lips, damp with sweat or beer—Nate didn’t know—were what he zeroed in on. Jay swayed with the music. The move took them closer and fuck, Jay was hard. Nate gave in to the temptation and pressed them closer still until he was sure Jay could feel how hard he was as well.
All thoughts of impropriety or fears of rejection flew out the window. Nate was lost in the smile of pleasure that curved Jay’s damp lips. What would he taste like? Would Jay return the kiss? Would Jay push him away? How could he risk this? He eased his hold on Jay’s hips and slouched a little so that their groins aligned—suddenly they were frotting firmly and rhythmically to some Eminem mix. There was no way he could stop himself.
“Can I kiss you?” Nate said into Jay’s ear.
Jay smiled at him, but it wasn’t clear that he’d heard what Nate said. Hell, he should kiss Jay and stop all this delay in taking what he really wanted. Someone jostled him from behind and the movement threw him off his spiral of the pros and cons of denial. When the person who jostled them attempted to insinuate themselves between Nate and Jay, abruptly everything was clear.
“Fuck off,” Nate shouted clearly to the interloper, and in a quick move, he got his first taste of the sexy city boy. The press of his lips against Jay’s was intoxicating, and they kissed and swayed to the beat of the music. Their hard cocks pressed together and—finally—the kiss deepened. Jay let him in and Nate took every advantage. Fuck the fact Jay worked for the ranch, fuck that they had absolutely zero in common, forget that Jay had a degree and a life that would take him far away from Nate’s world sometime soon.
RJ Scott has been writing since age six when she was made to stay in at lunchtime for an infraction involving cookies and was told to write a story. Two sides of A4 about a trapped princess later, a lover of writing was born. She reads anything from thrillers to sci-fi to horror; however, her first real love will always be the world of romance. From billionaires, bodyguards and cowboys to SEALs, throwaways and veterinarians, she writes passionate stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and more than a hint of happily ever after.