REVIEW BY JODI: LET IT RIDE BY L.C. CHASE

 

 
Title: Let It Ride
Author: L.C. Chase
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Rating: 4.5/5 Smooches
 
 
 
 
Blurb:
 
This title is #2 of the Pickup Men series.
Pickup
man Bridge Sullivan is the kind of cowboy everyone wants—as a brother, a
friend, a lover. People think he’s straight, but Bridge isn’t one for labels,
and when a sexy male paramedic jumpstarts his heart, he charges in with all
guns blazing.
 
New
York City transplant Eric Palmer grew up in foster care. While he always had a
roof over his head, he never felt love or a sense of belonging . . . until he
joined the California rodeo circuit as a paramedic and found a band of brothers
who took him in as one of their own. Now, one in particular is making Eric’s
pulse race.
 
When
things heat up between Bridge and Eric, Bridge has to prove to Eric he’s not
just experimenting with the rougher sex, while Eric must overcome his fears of
being unwanted and cast aside. He knows that trusting Bridge may be the key to
his happy ever after, but getting in the saddle is much, much easier than
learning to let it ride.
 
 
 
 
 
Review:
 
 
“Whatever happened in the past is the past. You
can’t let it dictate your future.”

Bridge Sullivan
 
Hot
cowboys. Hot sex. Angst. Humor. Who could ask for anything more? Let it Ride is the second book in the
Pickup series, and L.C. Chase has done a great job developing this story and
further developing the characters. Bridge Sullivan is a pickup man for a
California rodeo circuit. Eric Palmer is a paramedic who takes care of injured
cowboys. The two men became friends in the first book in the series.
 
Eric
Palmer is not a cowboy, but he feels as though he finally fits in somewhere
with this group of men who have welcomed him into their family. A New York
transient, Eric is not used to fitting in or being part of a family. He is friendly,
shy and more than a little wary of becoming too close to these men.
 
Bridge
Sullivan has been best friends with his fellow pickup men Kent and Marty for
years. These men travel, work and live together. They don not keep secrets from
each other, most of the time.
 
Bridge,
who appears to be a ride hard, play hard cowboy, has a bit of a reputation
bedding women on the circuit. Almost 30 years old, he has never mentioned to
his friends that he once fooled around with a guy in college, and he definitely
is not sharing the erotic dreams he has been having for the past few months.
 
Bridge’s
eyes snapped open, and he stared hard at the ceiling while the faint,
bittersweet odor of cum tickled his nostrils and his chest rose and fell in
double time. His heart continued to pound as the fading remnants of the best
wet dream of his entire life left him feeling more than a little unbalanced. A
dream featuring a man—and not just any man, but one man in particular. Eric
Palmer, the paramedic he’d met on the rodeo circuit the previous season who’d
become fast friends with Bridge and his two best friends since childhood and
fellow rodeo men, Marty Fairgrave and Kent Murphy. Eric had been on his mind
too often over the past months . . . and as far more than just a friend.
 
He sucked a
ragged gulp of air. “Oh my God. I’m gay.”
 
It
has taken Bridge a year to understand his feelings for Eric and come to terms
with what those feelings mean. Not only is he ready and willing, albeit
nervous, to jump into a romantic and sexual relationship with Eric, but like
with everything else he does, Bridge jumps in guns blazing. With blinding
clarity, Bridge realizes “Shit. I’m Eric-sexual.”
 
Eric has no
doubts about his sexuality. He knows he is gay. When he turned 13, he told his
parents he was gay, and they promptly threw him out of the house. Eric’s life
has been a constant turmoil of disposable households and relationships.  He is not embarrassed to be gay, but he has
been burned multiple times in relationships – both familial and romantic. Not
only is guns blazing not his style, but he is terrified of getting involved
with Bridge romantically and 
jeopardizing their friendship and the
relationship with his new close circle of friends.
 
He
knew better than to believe someone like Bridge would want him—at least not for
more than just sex. Jeremy had made that painfully clear when he’d chosen
another over him, even after professing his undying love. Like Ron before him,
who Eric had also foolishly believed had loved him. Nope, he couldn’t go there
again. As long as he kept his heart locked down, no one would ever be able to
hurt him again, and if it were Bridge . . . the heartbreak would be
devastating.
 
With this cast
of characters, Chase has established a close family dynamic. Eric is honored to
be part of this group, but with his experience in foster homes and bad
relationships, Eric doesn’t see himself as a real part of the family. He knows,
in his heart, that he is disposable.
 
He
may have felt like he’d known the affable cowboys forever, that maybe he
finally belonged somewhere, but in the back of his mind, he was still Disposable
Eric. The kid whose parents said they loved him but kicked him to the curb; the
new kid in the foster home who would always be the first one turned out if
there was a rift between him and the established friends. If he let his
original attraction to Bridge resurface any more than it had already, let
something happen between them, he’d lose more than Bridge when it took its
usual route south. He’d lose all of them because there was no way Marty and
Kent would choose him over Bridge. No way anyone would choose him first.
 
Fuck,
how did he let himself get in so deep with these guys? He knew better than to
let his guard down and believe in fairy tales
 
Bridge
is a strong character who appears to be tough and in control. He is described
as being “The man was solid. A rock in the eye of the storm. No matter what
happened, he stood by his friends.”  
 
It
is Bridge’s vulnerability and humor that draws in the reader. His nervousness
and shyness around Eric makes him an endearing character. This group of rugged cowboys
warn Bridge not to toy with Eric’s feelings, but they do not seem to see how
truly vested in Eric Bridge has become.
 
When
Bridge first decides to make his move, he is nervous and tentative. He hides
behind a somewhat innocent façade of openly flirting.
 
Eric
jumped down from his barstool and met Bridge in front of the pool table. Bridge
held the cue stick out for him but didn’t let go when Eric grabbed it. Their
gazes locked for an extended beat, and then Eric stepped into Bridge’s space.
That spicy-citrus fragrance drifted into his nostrils, teasing his senses and
triggering a rush of endorphins in his brain.
 
“If
I didn’t know any better—” Eric’s voice was low, his accent thicker. His hand
slid down the shaft of the stick until it rested above Bridge’s, and the
contact sent a burning spike of arousal careening into Bridge’s cock. “—I’d
think you were flirting with me.”
 
“Maybe
you don’t know better,” Bridge said, quietly enough for only Eric to hear, and
then grinned when his eyes widened ever so slightly. Bridge let go of the cue
stick, dropping his hand to brush Eric’s thigh as he walked past him without
looking back.
 
Eric
has been hurt too many times not to be wary. The ugliness of Eric’s past is too
overwhelming for him to accept Bridge’s words and actions at face value.
 
He
knew better than to believe someone like Bridge would want him—at least not for
more than just sex. Jeremy had made that painfully clear when he’d chosen
another over him, even after professing his undying love. Like Ron before him,
who Eric had also foolishly believed had loved him. Nope, he couldn’t go there
again. As long as he kept his heart locked down, no one would ever be able to
hurt him again, and if it were Bridge . . . the heartbreak would be devastating.
 
      
For
a little while, Eric tries to keep his walls up, but the more Eric learns about
Bridge, the more intense the attraction becomes, but Eric’s fears about getting
involved are too rooted in his heart and brain for him to overcome them. As a
reader, it is easy to see both Eric’s dilemma and his rash and heartbreaking
reaction to Bridge’s enthusiasm.
 
Either
way, sooner or later Bridge would see what everyone else had seen: that there
was something inherently wrong with Eric. Why else would everyone he had ever
loved, or had thought had loved him, kick him to the curb? He wanted what
Bridge and his friends had—that unconditional camaraderie, that belonging, that
confidence that he was wanted and loved. But the more he wished and prayed for
love, the more elusive it seemed to become. All he knew of that mysterious
emotion was pain. Every time he’d let himself believe that maybe this time
would be different was when it’d all come crashing down again.
 
The
climax of the story is dramatic and heart wrenching.
 
Eric
and Bridge are likeable, sympathetic, well rounded characters. Chase does a
great job pulling roping readers into this story.  The narration is descriptive, intense and well
written. The dialogue in the story is free-flowing and humorous and helps bring
a sense of realism to this story. Chase does a great job offsetting the tension
with humor.
 
Chase
constructs a wonderful story with Let it
Ride
. Although the conflict in this story is not as dramatic as it is in Pickup Men, the climax is devastating.
These characters are lighthearted in some respects, but thanks to Chase’s
writing ability, their emotions run deep.  This simplistic, angst-filled plot is enhanced
by Chase’s wonderful character development and smooth dialogue.
 
 
Thank you to Net
Galley and Riptide Publishing for providing a review copy
of this title in exchange
for my honest opinion.

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