The Dude Ranch

Cat Blaine
The Dude Ranch
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Evernight Publishing
Release Date
May 2014

Tom Smyth thinks he's on his way to a romantic vacation with his on again, off again boyfriend Steve. Steve has actually booked them at a Dude Ranch thinking something new will add spark to their love life.

Tom feels a spark alright, but it's for the gorgeous lead cowboy on the Rambling Cow Dude Ranch, Rex. Steve notices the attraction between the two and his jealously escalates until he takes off without Tom—leaving the city boy and the sexy cowboy to explore their obvious attraction for one another.

Book Review by Lynn (reviewer)
Jul 24, 2014   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
155 people found the following review helpful
THE DUDE RANCH was a short story about finding happiness in an unexpected place at an unexpected time.

Tom's boyfriend has booked them a vacation at Rambling Cow Dude Ranch to try to rekindle their relationship. The reason their relationship needs a spark is that Steve, Tom's boyfriend, can't seem to maintain monogamy. Tom, an office-dwelling city boy, isn't real excited about the idea of a Dude Ranch vacation, but he and Steve are good friends, so he is willing to give it a try. When they arrive, Steve quickly discovers a Dude Ranch vacation may not have been the right choice for him and begins complaining about everything. Surprisingly, Tom finds himself relaxing and truly enjoying himself, especially the time he is spending with Rex, the ranch hand. When Tom won't give into Steve's whining requests to go home early, Steve leaves without him. While Tom is initially upset, he quickly realizes there may be some advantages to being alone at Rambling Cow with Rex.

The thing I enjoyed the most about this story was the open and uncertain ending. I sometimes struggle with reading romantic short stories because the author introduces us to characters and has the difficult task of developing honest feelings between the characters in a small number of pages. This author did not present us with a Happily-Ever-After but with a Happy-For-Now-Let's-See-Where-It-Goes ending. This type of ending for a short story feels more realistic to me. The characters both express their doubts and concerns about this instant attraction they feel towards one another, but both of them want to explore the relationship further and see where things go. This is more believable to me than characters who meet and the next day know they will love each other and be happy together forever.

Another thing I liked was the honest explanation of Tom's commitment to his relationship with Steve. Rather than feeling annoyed with Tom for putting up with Steve's past and present behaviors, I found myself empathizing with Tom and his desire to save his friendship. Tom wasn't presented as a stupid, unlikable character who just allowed his boyfriend to treat him badly. Steve was simply annoying, but a good character for this story.

This was a great short story written in a way I wish more short stories were--an introduction of characters, a peek at their attraction (and steaminess), an acknowledgement of the speed of the development of the relationship, and a hope for a happy ending.
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