Title : Pickup Men
Series : Pickup Men, Book #1
Author : L.C. Chase
Publisher : Riptide (BUY HERE)
Genre : M/M, Contemporary, Romance
Length : 166 pages (e-book)
Published : June 8, 2013
It takes a pissed-off Brahma bull named Shockwave to show rodeo pickup man Marty Fairgrave the cold hard truth about champion bull rider Tripp Colby: Tripp will never leave the safety of his closet or acknowledge Marty in public. Sometimes loving someone just isn’t enough, and after a year of hiding what they are, Marty finally sees the light—and it’s no longer shining on Tripp.
Tripp Colby would do anything for Marty. Well…almost. He’s never loved anyone before, and isn’t quite sure how to handle it now. But he knows Marty is his everything, and in order to win him back, Tripp will have to overcome his darkest fears and step into the light.
But no matter Tripp’s intentions, the cost might be too high and the effort too late for these two cowboys to ride off into the sunset.
Marty Fairgrave, a rodeo Pickup Man, is known on the circuit as being gay and out and unapologetic about it. His parents, who own a Working-Guest Ranch, wanted Marty to get out and see some of the country before his father handed over the reigns to the ranch and retired. Loving and supportive, they wholeheartedly accept him for who he is. Marty also has the support of his two best friends and fellow cowboys, Bridge and Kent – both straight – who he has known since grade school. The three of them are as close as brothers. Thirty three year old Tripp Colby is a three-time world professional bull riding champion, having started rodeoing at fourteen. He’s also deeply closeted. Very deeply closeted, thanks to his family background dominated by an intimidating and intolerant father.
During one of Tripp’s bull rides, Marty puts himself in the pathway of the bull looming down on Tripp, ending up in a collision with the rails that puts him in hospital with broken ribs, a dislocated shoulder and concussion. Tripp stands on the fringes and when it looks like he may actually go over to check on Marty, another bull rider, and known homophobe, Scott Gillard, comes to stand next to Tripp, halting Tripp in his tracks. A heartbroken Marty decides then and there that as much as he loves Tripp, he can no longer be his ‘dirty little secret’. Tripp, realising he’s lost the only person he’s ever truly loved, determines that he will win Marty back. After his recovery, Marty rejoins the circuit and his friends to find that Eric, one of the EMTs at the site of Marty’s accident, has become a permanent rodeo EMT. Eric slips right into the little group and wastes no time in making his interest clear to Marty, but Marty isn’t ready to go there. Besides, he’s noticed some interesting behaviour of his supposedly straight friend, Bridge, towards the handsome EMT.
It was hard to get any kind of a connection with Tripp. Marty I really like, but at over a third of the way through the book, all I was getting of Tripp was his absolute fear of being outed. I found myself thinking, ‘I get there’s some kind of background experience that’s causing it, but so far it’s too vague, and so is Tripp’s personality. At this point, I’m almost more interested in a possible Eric and Bridge than I am in Marty and Tripp’s story’. When Tripp’s journey to accepting himself leads him to San Francisco to track down an old friend, I finally felt like I was getting to know Tripp a little better. I could finally see the person he might be without all that fear keeping him chained.
Even while this story touched on some heavy issues with Tripp’s backstory, it didn’t really focus on them. They were mentioned as a reason for Tripp’s fear of coming out, there as an explanation rather than as a part of creating an in depth character. Told predominately from Marty’s POV, but with Tripp’s as well, Pickup Men was a pleasant read, but ultimately never quite got there for me. It was just a bit too predictable (I’d pegged a couple of things early on) and uneven, jumping from one thing to the next a little too abruptly at times. Some of the dialogue between the MCs was syrupy sweet and came across as out of character. I liked Eric. I found him very intriguing and would go so far to say that he was my second favourite character behind Marty. It looks like this is the first in a new series. I’m tipping the second one will be Eric and Bridge. I’m hoping so at any rate!
Rated 3.5 stars by BookSmitten