Monday, February 17, 2020

Hard Ride by A.M. Arthur

Five Weddings and a Fake Boyfriend

City slicker Derrick Massey has always had a thing for cowboys. So a roll in the hay with Kendall “Slater” Stamos during a rustic weekend wedding is more than A-OK. But when Slater’s forced to hang up his saddle for the season, Derrick surprises even himself with his proposition: be my fake boyfriend and get my family off my back about finding a permanent partner.

Though unexpected, the arrangement is a win-win. Derrick gets a plus-one for a slew of summer weddings and Slater gets a place to stay while he recuperates… with lots of casual fun in between. Which is just how the sexy cowboy likes it: casual. Yet it’s obvious the chemistry between them is anything but.

With the countdown to their “breakup” on, the more time the two men spend together. And the more it becomes clear that what they have could be real, if only they let it be.

One-click with confidence. This title is part of the Carina Press Romance Promise: all the romance you're looking for with an HEA/HFN. It's a promise!

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Book 5
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo
Carina Press – Harlequin

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

This is the fifth book in the series, and I would say that you would benefit from having read them in order, as you would understand better the dynamics between the men, but it is a good read that I think you could enjoy as a standalone too. To those of us who have read the earlier books, we don't really have a great opinion of Derrick, in particular as he didn't react all that well to Robin moving on, but at the same time did feel quite sorry for him too.

Slater is very much the loner on the ranch, and although we get to know why quite early on, it is not common knowledge. He has, for the most part, found peace at the ranch and even his hookup with Derrick has not disturbed his equilibrium. Then an act of heroism where he decides that his life can end results instead in him needing to recuperate, and Derrick offers him a chance at something new for a while. As they play act at being boyfriends, Derrick gets a summer free of matchmaking by his family and Slater gets somewhere more restful to get better.

I loved how we see into Derrick's life and meet his friends and family. Slater finds something he has missed out on, and realises what a gift he has been given by Derrick and those who accept him so easily. He also recognises that he is happy, really happy, and wishes that Derrick would ask him to stay for real. Of course Derrick is feeling pretty much the same way, but doesn't want to pressure Slater... so we then have the fun of seeing how on earth the author will resolve the issue!

I loved Slater's rude cross stitch creations – such a fun way to pass the time as he gets better.

As well as enjoying these two men find themselves and each other, we also catch up with the other couples from Clean Slate ranch, and I am already looking forward to the next installment from this lovely series.

This series is a series that just makes me feel comfortable. It feels like home, we see new couples in every book, but we also see established ones from previous books. I feel like I know these guys, they feel like family.

You could read this as a standalone but would get a better perspective if you read the previous books. This one starts out with a nice hot sex scene... my favorite! Derrick and Slater both want casual, no strings attached. We all know how that goes. Then throw in the fake boyfriend scenario and we all know what's gonna happen. I loved getting to know Slater and Derrick, I'll admit Slater was my favorite. Add in an injury, lots of weddings, and family, and you have a good addition to the series.

Hard Ride is the fifth installment in the Clean Slate Ranch series. It can be read as a standalone, but it is better to read in order to completely understand the character interactions.

Derrick has mixed feelings going to Clean Slate Ranch for another wedding. He had a rough time when Robin moved on and found the love of his life. He hasn't been a favorite, but somehow this interaction with Slater changes my opinion of him. Derrick and Slater have a quick hit it and quit it in the ranch gym. Slater is a loner and isn't looking for a relationship, so the one-time hook-ups work best for him. When he suffers an injury on the ranch, something has him accepting the offer of a "fake" relationship – wedding dates for help healing.

I am a huge fan of Clean Slate Ranch. I love seeing past characters, the interactions, seeing the growth of their relationships, etc. but it wasn't something you really got in this one. It takes place ninety percent off the ranch, even though some characters do make cameos, it just wasn't the same. That doesn't mean I didn't completely enjoy it, but it wasn't one of my favorites.

3.5 stars

This is a sweet and sexy read that takes the series in a whole new direction. This story takes readers away from the ranch and the ghost town and into the city. The tropes are a little tired but both Derrick and Slater are immensely likeable, and I love the characters that surround them.

The fake boyfriend thing has been done to death in contemporary romance, but it works quite well here. It’s the secrets and feelings the men keep from each other that I didn’t enjoy. Derrick and Slater both present as full-grown men – well into adulthood – who have very little emotional intelligence and very poor communication skills. There are several things which provide genuine barriers to a relationship between Derrick and Slater so I kinda hate that the author relies on miscommunication for conflict. The result is more unnecessary angst than I like and a book that happens mostly inside the two men’s heads. This is a slice of life romance without any of the action or excitement I’ve come to expect from the series.

Unlike previous books, this one takes place in the city and I really enjoyed the change of scenery and all the new characters. However, we still see lots of the guys from the ranch so there are possibly too many characters to keep track of in this book. This is a slow read and it feels a little bit like a series filler at times. I like Slater and Derrick, but after some excitement and a very sexy scene at the start of the book, their story is a quiet, slow burn. Some readers will love this story, others will want a little bit more from a romance novel.

Also Available in the Clean Slate Ranch Series

Book 1
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo
Carina Press

For reviews & more info, check out our Wild Trail post.

Book 2
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo
Carina Press

For reviews & more info, check out our Roped In post.

Book 3
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo
Carina Press

For reviews & more info, check out our Saddle Up post.

Book 4
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo
Carina Press – Harlequin

For reviews & more info, check out our Lucky Break post.

A.M. Arthur was born and raised in the same kind of small town that she likes to write about, a stone's throw from both beach resorts and generational farmland. She's been creating stories in her head since she was a child and scribbling them down nearly as long, in a losing battle to make the fictional voices stop. She credits an early fascination with male friendships (bromance hadn't been coined yet back then) with her later discovery of and subsequent love affair with m/m romance stories. A.M. Arthur's work is available from Carina Press, SMP Swerve, and Briggs-King Books.

When not exorcising the voices in her head, she toils away in a retail job that tests her patience and gives her lots of story fodder. She can also be found in her kitchen, pretending she's an amateur chef and trying to not poison herself or others with her cuisine experiments.

Contact her at am_arthur (at) with your cooking tips (or book comments).

Connect with A.M.

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Blog  ~  Goodreads

Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Hard Ride (Clean Slate Ranch #5) by A.M. Arthur to read and review.

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