After happily reading 'Hay & Heartbreak' I jumped right into this one. I was hoping for Joaquin's story and that's what I got and now I'm remembering some old clichés. Things like 'look before you leap' and 'be careful what you wish for' are coming to mind.
Joaquin is another one of the cowboys who works at Mossy Glenn Ranch and we saw the beginnings of his story in 'Hay & Heartbreak' and I liked what I saw. In 'Hay & Heartbreak' Joaquin started off on the wrong foot with me and with Dan. His first encounter with Dan was after he'd had a few too many drinks and as a result he came on a little too strong. My initial reaction was "Wow! Who is this jerk?"
What I discovered later, and it's in the blurb for this book so no big spoiler here, was that he'd just returned from seeing his family where his father had disowned him because he found out Joaquin was gay and to add insult to injury not one of his siblings stood up for him. Unfortunately, Dan encounters Joaquin when he is feeling rejected by the world and attempting to drown his sorrows in a bottle. In an unwanted effort to make a connection with someone in the world who he hoped wouldn't reject him, Joaquin makes an unappreciated pass at Dan. Does this make what he did ok? No, but when Dan told him to back off he did and once he's sobered up he was genuinely sorry for his behaviour.
Joaquin likes Dan and they become friends. While Joaquin would have liked a more intimate relationship he also saw and respected how Dan and Hector felt about each other and that spoke more to me about the nature of who Joaquin really was. This in addition to other events that occurred in book 7 cemented Joaquin in my mind as someone that I really wanted to know more about.
'Hay & Heartbreak' also introduces us to the man who ultimately lays claim to Joaquin's heart but since neither book blurb mentions him. I'm not going to say a whole lot about him either.
I liked both of these men and seeing them end up together to me was perfect. Where I got lost was the sex. I liked that there was a strong attraction here and I'm ok with sex on page not an issue but I kind of like a story on page with it and while there was definitely a good story line here it just felt like at times the focus of the story was the sex and not the development of the story and the relationship that was happening between this pair. I enjoyed the fact that there was actual conversation between them and it wasn't just a 'wham, bam thank you man' encounter. I honestly admit this is probably a case of 'Dear story, it's not you. It's me.'
I found myself a bit put off by the fact that it was less than 10 pages to go from 'hello' to 'let's do this' and then I get 15 pages dedicated to the first time these two men have sex. Add to that the fact that subsequent encounters may not have gotten quite as much page time, but they were numerous and honestly after a while I was skimming and my brain was just going "yeah, yeah, I get it these guys are hot for each other."
What it comes down to is I need to feel like the sex scenes support the bigger story and not the other way around. Each of these men had a really good background story and
then to bring them together as a pair was the opportunity for an equally terrific story and sadly it was one that at times felt like it was overshadowed by 'the sex' made it feel like sex was the reason they came together instead something that resulted from them getting together.
While this wasn't quite a 3 star read, it was definitely deserving of more than 2.5 so at the end of it all I'm just going to leave it at 3 stars because I still really, really like the pairing in this book and their individual stories, plus the stuff between the sex was interesting as well.