Title: Unconventional in Kansas City Anthology
Author Name & Publisher: Carol Lynne, T.A. Chase, Stephani Hecht, Jambrea Jo Jones, Devon Rhodes (Pride Publishing)
Publication Date & Length: August 16, 2016 – 219 pgs
‘Kiss Me, Cowboy’ by Carol Lynne
It isn’t easy to cling to teenage promises when you become one of the forgotten.
For Eli Barron, Jesse Clooney has always been the one. From their first day of kindergarten through their high school graduation, the pair were inseparable. So, when a situation arises that splits the two men apart, it’s up to Eli to keep the home fires burning as Jesse sets off to follow his dreams on the rodeo circuit. But how long can a man continue to stoke the fire before the flames die out?
‘New Vocations’ by T.A. Chase
Two men who believe in second chances meet and their lives are never the same again.
Layne Daly comes to participate in The American Royal. He’s there to show off the abilities of the retired thoroughbreds he adopts straight off the track. He wants people to know these animals can do so much more than race. He has three horses there to do exhibitions in reining, barrel racing and cutting. When his usual groom gets sick, he has to hire someone fast.
Carl Stewartson used to love coming to Kansas City for the rodeo. He’d ride broncs and hang out with his friends. But since his career-ending injury early in the year, Carl has been spinning his wheels, trying to find something to do with his life now that he couldn’t rodeo anymore. He runs into Layne and offers to help him with his horses.
Together, they have to deal with not only the stress of the event, but starting a new relationship. Second chances are what Layne does best and he’s more than willing to give Carl the opportunity.
‘Stallions and Ice’ by Stephani Hecht
Sometimes you have to climb a mountain to see the future.
While Brandon loves to go and watch his friend, Nichole, at The American Royal every year, there is no way that he is ever going to climb on a horse. His feet belong on the ground or the ice. As one the of the players of the local minor league team, the Wichita Thunder, all he dreams about is someday moving up to the major leagues. That is, until he meets Nichole’s brother, Brandon.
Brandon grew up in a family that has always been in the rodeo circuit. There was no question that he was ever going to be anything else…until he’s sidelined by seizures and can no longer ride. Then he meets Ethan and he begins to wonder, that maybe, just maybe, his life isn’t over.
Will decades of traditions tear the men apart? Or can they can overcome all their obstacles and be together?
‘Playing with Fire’ by Jambrea Jo Jones
Ranch cook against restaurateur—who does it better?
Hayden McGrath has the formal training and know how to run one of the best farm-to-table restaurants in the city. This year he wants to prove his worth by entering the barbecue competition at The American Royal. It has nothing to do with a certain cowboy from the Flying P…
Amos Vasquez has been the ranch cook at the Flying P Retreat since it was an actual ranch. Now it’s a place tourists flock to so they can have a taste of his food. This year he is going to win the barbecue competition and nothing will stand in his way, not even a certain sexy redheaded restaurant owner who has caught his eye.
This will be the BBQ competition to beat all competitions at The American Royal.
‘Resuscitating Love’ by Devon Rhodes
If Hill keeps putting cowboys ahead of his marriage, even being a cardiologist won’t help David fix their broken hearts.
Hillard ‘Hill’ Pearson, the new events director of the American Royal, has worked hard to get to where he is. This is his first year as director, and the huge responsibility of the more visible position has taken over his life. Yes, he could be considered a workaholic, but he’s put fifteen years into the event he’s loved since he was a kid, and now is his chance to shine.
When David Weinstein finally convinced his long-time partner, Hill, to marry him, he thought it would bring them closer together. Instead, they’re not even to their first anniversary and their relationship is suffering. David’s finally at a stage in his medical career where he has regular hours, but can’t seem to connect with his husband when he’s free. Now, with the event that he’s sick of hearing about underway, he feels like he’s making all the effort with no return.
Can Hill and David resuscitate their love before David gives up on the promise of forever?
Kiss Me, Cowboy by Carol Lynne – 4 Stars
This was a sweet story about two men who were best friends all their life who fell in love. Then Jesse left and Eli stayed to help his family after the death of Eli’s father. I almost thought the author wasn’t going to give these two men their HEA but she did. I immediately had a connection with Eli and Jesse and felt for them both in the struggle they dealt with to be together. A great story that centered on a rodeo event named The American Royal.
New Vocation by T.A. Chase – 4.5 Stars
I absolutely loved this story, but that didn’t surprise me as it was written by a favorite author of mine. T.A. Chase writes wonderful story that are well thought out and exciting. I immediately fell in love with Layne and Carl. It was also great to see Les and Randy make a cameo appearance.
Stallions and Ice by Stephani Hecht – 4 Stars
This was another great story in this anthology and I really loved Brandon and Ethan. I would consider this a HFN story as it never really had a full ending (which is why I only gave it 4 stars). But I loved how the author was able to bring two men together from two completely different backgrounds, especially when one of the characters is a hockey player (GO Red Wings). This author just hits the right spot in my reading about hockey players. No one does it better then Ms. Hecht whether its hockey or first responders.
Playing with Fire by Jambrea Jo Jones – 4 Stars
This story was another great one by a new author for me. This author took a different approach and had this two men facing off in the kitchen not the rodeo circuit but it was still centered on the America Royal. I loved how the author brought these two men back together and the whole story surrounding the epic cook off. Great job!
Resuscitating Love by Devon Rhodes – 4 Stars
This wasn’t a story about new love but about reviving a love of established partners. This was a great ending in a great series of stories about the American Royal rodeo event. I really love reading s these types of stories as it really just hit me start in the heart. I love reading about how two men are able to overcome their problems and get back on track.
Overall this was an excellent anthology and would recommend it to all my friends.
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