Title: Nowhere Ranch
Author: Heidi Cullinan
Release Date: February 15, 2011
Read: January 7-8, 2014
Book Blurb (from Goodreads):
Roe Davis is a man who works hard, keeps to himself, and never mixes business with pleasure — until he takes a weekend away from his new job at Nowhere Ranch and runs into the owner at the only gay bar for two hundred miles. Getting involved with the boss is a bad idea, but Travis Loving is hard to say no to, especially when it turns out their kinks line up like a pair of custom-cut rails. As Loving points out, so long as this is sex on the side, no interfering with the job, they could make it work.
The truth is, there’s good reason Roe never settles down and always spends his birthdays and holidays celebrating alone. Shut out in the cold by his family years ago, Roe survived by declaring he didn’t need a home. As his affair with Loving grows into more than just sex, Roe finds out what happens when he stays put a little bit too long: the past always catches up with you. Eventually, even a loner gets lonely, and home will grow up through whatever cracks you leave open for it — even in a place called Nowhere.
I had certain preconceived ideas about what this book was going to be like, how the characters were going to act, and how the ending was going to come about. I knew that it was going to be hot, my boundaries and what I identify as my comfort zone were going to be pushed–and oh, were they ever–, and that there was a distinct possibility that I wasn’t going to like it at all.
Of course, the definition of preconceived is to have formed an idea or an opinion before having given evidence that either confirms your original thought or smashes it into a million pieces.
Surely you can guess what happened to mine.
Nowhere Ranch honestly surprised me. It is much more than just a book with characters that have sexy–and eyebrow raising–times. Its tone is natural. It doesn’t try too hard. It just is. There isn’t a single word that I felt wasn’t true. It felt to me as though Roe and Travis aren’t just characters that Heidi Cullinan had living inside her head that she decided to put on paper, but rather it felt as though they are living and Cullinan decided that their story deserved to be told.
My heart went out for Roe instantly. I have this thing for people–men, women, children–who feel as though that no one loves them, that they don’t belong, and because of that they’re better left alone. If I meet them through a book or in real life, I immediately want to prove them wrong, that they do belong, that there’s a difference between wanting to be left alone and being bereft of human contact–because even the most introverted of people (*raises hand*) needs human contact every once in a while, even if it’s just to complain that you spilt your coffee all over your t-shirt this morning when you got up, that you accidentally put on two different colored socks and didn’t realize that you did until after you had left the house, or that you dropped your phone and now have the latest update from Spider.
Roe doesn’t have any of that. He claims that he doesn’t want it, that he doesn’t need it. He doesn’t want a friend and he doesn’t want someone to love him. His reasoning? He isn’t good enough for any of it. That he doesn’t deserve it because of the way he is–because he is gay and because of how he likes his sex. I sympathized with him, and I couldn’t wait until he was shown, not just told, that he did deserve someone to love him, and for him to love in return. And Travis was the perfect person to show him.
Roe and Travis are absolutely wonderful together; they just work. It isn’t just that their kinks ‘line up like a pair of custom-cut rails’. They are the perfect example of when two different people who virtually have nothing in common (besides their kinks and livelihood), but grow to understand each other better than anybody else ever could. It starts off as just sex, as sometimes ‘relationships’ do, but grows to become something more. It doesn’t happen over night, it doesn’t even happen in a couple of chapters, and that’s what I loved. It felt real. Their emotions, their feelings for the other, they happen naturally, as relationships, relationships that stand the test of time, do.
As for the ending, I absolutely loved it. I’ve read a few comments by people who didn’t like the ending because it felt like a cop-out or that it was too cheesy, but for me, it was perfect. It isn’t just because that Roe and Travis get their fairytale ending, as the ending would have felt any other way in any other book written by any other author, but rather because it’s the ending that brings the story to a full circle. Nowhere Ranch starts off as a book about a man who doesn’t want love and isn’t looking for love but over the course of the book learns one form of love–that between a man and a man–but also by the ending has learned another kind of love, a love that tests, teaches, and encompasses you more than any other.
“I was feeling like all that crazy sea inside me was settling into a calm. He had drawn it all out of the bottle I kept it in, but when I looked up at him like that, it settled, because if my wild insides were a sea, those gray eyes were the world’s biggest fucking bowl, and they held me. Caught me and held me and bore me up.”