Saturday, April 9, 2016

Bunkhouse Boys by Marie Piper

Kenny and Blue, two hands at the Tate Ranch, find distraction in each other from sleepless nights and days filled with hard work. Keeping their relationship a secret might be essential, but with their growing need for each other, it sure won’t be easy.

Bunkhouse Boys contains adult content suitable for mature readers only.

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NineStar Press

Kenny had always been a terrible sleeper. He’d never been one to just lie down and close his eyes and dream. Always, he’d be the one still up hours after everyone else. He became real familiar with the ceilings of the places he slept, from the sod house of his childhood to the different bunkhouses at the ranches and farms he’d worked at as he grew to a man. He came to know lots of holes in the boards that made walls, and the stitching of the blankets that warmed him. Even at twenty-five years old and employed at the Tate ranch where the boss ran his boys hard from sunup to sundown, Kenny could never simply just go to sleep.

Of course, he was wide awake and pulling at the loose string of a missing button on his long underwear the night Blue snuck back into the bunkhouse. Everyone else had drifted off hours ago, and as Blue made his way through the dark room, his long tan duster caught the moonlight and made him look like a ghost. Blue took off his coat and lay back on his bunk, which was next to Kenny’s. The wood of the bedframe creaked under his weight. Blue was big man, tall and broad-shouldered, and he filled every inch of his bed from top to bottom. He dropped his boots off the bed, rustled a bit, and his pants followed after his boots.

Unseen, Kenny rolled his eyes in the dark.

All the boys drank at the saloon a few miles away more often than they should, but Blue was the most relentless about it. Every night after supper, unless he was on duty, Blue would take off to town and not come back until his words were slurred and the reek of booze came from him. He’d stomp through the room noisily and wake half the boys before he even got to his bunk.

For a moment, the room was silent save for the sounds of snores and mumbles and farts, same as any room full of sleeping men. Kenny let go of his string and started counting the planks on the bunk above his head. Duncan snored loudly up there. Not many of the other fellows liked him, on account of his being a loud-mouthed brute who always seemed to be ready to pick on those younger, smaller, or different than he liked.

A quiet sound caught Kenny’s attention, the sound of an arm against a blanket. It was coming from Blue’s bunk. Kenny could tell even in the darkness what he was doing. The motion, the rhythm—Blue was yanking at himself. In a room full of men, this was not unusual. Still, Kenny turned his head toward Blue’s bunk. In a peek from the moonlight, he could see Blue’s blanket moving on his lap.

“You like watchin’ me?” Blue whispered.

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

I chose this book because the blurb sounded intriguing. It was an incredibly short and quick read for me.

As it is a short story, there wasn't much background or foundation information, but you begin the story right in the moment. Kenny is the shy, quiet one in a bunch of cowboys. He has gotten to know everyone by sitting back and observing. Blue is the rough and tough "Doesn't care what anyone thinks” type. He does what he wants. When Kenny "observes" a personal moment of Blue's, things get interesting.

I had a difficult time really understanding the characters because there wasn't much to go on. I couldn't tell if Kenny was always sexually interested in men or if these were his first M/M encounters or not. One moment it would seem so, and the next it wouldn't. The blurb mentions them being worried about keeping their relationship a secret from the other guys, but in reality, their second encounter makes that statement laughable.

Overall, this was an okay read. I think if lengthened, it had nice potential, but as it is, it felt like a sexy, teasing taste of the fun.

As short stories go, Bunkhouse Boys was an enjoyable read. If you pick this up, you have to keep in mind that at less than twenty pages, you cannot expect a whole lot of character development or plot because there’s not a lot of time. As I had read the excerpt on the publisher’s website, I was a bit “primed” for the action and being a short story, Piper wastes no time getting Kenny and Blue straight to it. The setup is simple: Kenny is a ranch hand who doesn’t sleep well at night, often finding himself awake for hours after the other men have passed out. On the night in question, Blue returns to the bunkhouse after his nightly visit to the saloon, engages in a bit of self-love, when one thing leads to another and both men move their liaison to a more public, yet more private setting. Is it hot? Yes, and no. The author does a nice job of setting the scene and building the chemistry enough with Kenny’s inner musings to make it steamy. But for me, the narrative glossed over the details that add to eroticism I expected in a male/male short story. Kenny gasps in surprise and pain upon the first breach of a finger, yet there is no reaction when said finger is exchanged for the full monty (sorry, my euphemisms are failing me). I’m fine with an author glossing over details and I’m fine with authors who give me lots of details, but I prefer consistency, so the mix pulled me out of the story a bit.

As I expected their single night together to be the entirety of the story, I was pleasantly surprised that the Bunkhouse Boys continued on for a few days as Kenny’s sexual frustration built when the promised repeat performance did not occur. At least not until Kenny took matters into his own hands, quite literally. I was probably just as shocked as Kenny at where Blue insisted that their second encounter occur and the setting, frantic pace, and sexual tension moved the scene along so quickly that I didn’t have time to notice if details were glossed over or not. The story ended on an interesting note and despite some odd phrasing (primarily sentence structure that I suspect was done purposefully to give the story an Old West feel), I found Bunkhouse Boys to be an entertaining read for a short story.

Marie Piper is a Michigan native who earned her B.A. in English Literature from Michigan State University, and now lives in Chicago. She loves travel, coffee, and surrounding herself with her book hoard. Marie has published several short pieces in erotica collections from House of Erotica, Coming Together, LoveSlave, Torquere Press, and recently celebrated the release of Haven's Flame, the first novel in her steamy Western Historical Romance series, Fires of Cricket Bend. The second book in the series – title forthcoming – will be released in March 2015.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Bunkhouse Boys by Marie Piper to read and review.

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