Let it Ride - L.C. Chase
3.5 Stars

Let it Ride is the second in L.C. Chases Pickup Men Series. In rodeo, the pickup men manage the horses and bulls and rescue bronc and bareback riders from their horses after they make a ride. They are the men trusted to get the riders to safety from the ring and to escort the horse, bull or bronc out. Sometimes a pickup man has to put himself between a 2,000 pound animal and the rider trying to get over the fence. It is a dangerous job and not one that gets a lot of glory. That is reserved for the riders themselves.

I thoroughly enjoyed Pickup Men, the first in the series (it was a Lambda Literary Award Finalist for Gay Romance), so I expected to like this one just as much and L.C. Chase didn’t leave me disappointed. Like the first book, there are lots of emotional entanglements and relationships of different natures set against the back drop of the rodeo circuit. The characters from the first book are included as secondary characters in Let It Ride. As always, I like the chance to catch up with characters from previous books in a series and see how they fared after the last page of their story. While I don’t think it is necessary to read Pickup Men to get where this book is coming from, I think it would be a shame to miss it.

As far as everyone knows, Bridge Sullivan is straight. But Bridge has been infatuated with Eric Palmer, the paramedic we met in book one of the series. Bridge has been thinking, fantasizing and wet-dreaming about Eric since he saw him last. I liked that Bridge didn’t freak out at the thought of being attracted to a man, but decided to do a little home experiment, which is funny and hot at the same time. He concludes that yes, indeed, Eric does it for him.

To Bridge, it’s about attraction to another person, male or female. That’s refreshing and realistic. Love and attraction happen when and where they happen, and you don’t always find them where you might expect. Bridge just goes with it. He doesn’t care what other people will think, he is comfortable with himself and who he is. He is really looking forward to the beginning of the new rodeo season and seeing Eric for the first time since realizing just how much he is attracted to the man.

Eric has had no luck in love. He also has low self esteem due to repeated abandonment in his childhood by his own parents and subsequent foster homes. No one has ever loved him enough to stick around. Eric believes that Bridge will eventually see he is flawed and unworthy of love. He looks for excuses to reject Bridge’s advances and has a really hard time accepting Bridge’s feelings as truth, even though he has felt a similar attraction since the two met. He ignored his attraction, thinking Bridge was straight.

There’s no hesitation on the part of either man when it comes to the joys of sex. Though Bridge’s sexual experiences with men are limited, but both he and Eric are ready to try. They not only enjoy their physical exploration, there’s lots of soul searching involved. Neither cowboy is afraid of honest emotional exchanges. Eric and Bridge are so good together as friends, co-workers and lovers. As much as Eric didn’t want to fall in love with Bridge, he did, and it was terrifying for him. Ironically, all their friends were worried about Bridge breaking Eric’s heart and didn’t give a thought to how Eric’s reaction to his feelings and the fears they unearthed would affect Bridge’s heart.

L.C. Chase does a great job of taking the reader inside the ring of trucks and trailers surrounding the rodeo. The men who compete in the ring and those who work as support to them share an easy camaraderie. They are all friends, some lovers, some family. The struggle Eric goes through to believe himself worthy of love and to accept love is heart breaking and beautifully written. The 3.5 star rating is because at points the plot is a little too predictable. Things resolve a little too easily. I truly did enjoy the book, though.

I read Let It Ride in one sitting and believe you will do the same. Hot cowboys, angst, sex so hot the trailer is bouncing, and did I mention the hot cowboys?