Riding Tall by Kate Sherwood and a Elegant and a Sturdy Côtes du Rhône

RidingTallLGI was VERY excited to read this book!  Like I mentioned in my review of The Fall (the prequel to Riding Tall) I had never read Kate Sherwood’s work before that book. After reading about Mack, Joe and his brood, I fell in love with her characters. Mack and Joe were so dear, in such need of one and another and, yet so lacking in communication abilities, it’s very hard not to root for them! We meet these boys again some months since they have begun their relationship. Joe has taken in the two neighbor girls whose parents died in a fire recently. He feels responsible for not stepping in earlier and letting things get so bad in that home, he feels responsible for not getting them out of the fire faster, he feels responsible for not being able to give Mack more time…He feels responsible for pretty much anything that is happening anywhere. Joe is a caretaker, if anything goes wrong, he puts the blame on himself. It’s noble and it’s something to respect, but being the partner of someone who has to be everything to everyone isn’t easy. Mack is so in love with Joe,  and Joe with Mack. They are trying to make a go of things but, it’s just hard. Once Joe decides that he will take in the third little girl affected by the fire who has suffered brain damage and needs constant care without consulting anyone…Things get a little too real.

These two men gave me a run for my money with the angst, I needed that glass of wine BAD by the time they really got into things. I needed something delicious and awesome to keep up with what Joe and Mack were dishing out. My pick is an incredibly delicious and sturdy  Côtes du Rhône wine from the Chapelle St. Arnoux winery. This wine is so good, I can’t even focus on what I like best. It is smooth as can be, tasty, well rounded and just wonderful to sip. It’s about $11 a bottle which is pretty darn good for what you get.

Riding tall

Now back to my delightfully angsty duo…So yeah things are STRESSFUL. Mack is going back to Toronto for modelling gigs. He feels like he needs to be making money on his own, he doesn’t want to be Joe’s kept man. He also feels like he gets in the way at the ranch. Joe is there trying to do a million things at once, but won’t ask for help. He won’t incovenience Mack with any duties…So Mack insead of feeling like a partner, like the person giving Joe the respite he neeeds, he feels like one more burden on the man he loves…And Joe, bless his heart. The man is THICK as a lamp post, and NOT IN THE FUN WAY! He just cannot give in, and ask for help. He is guilty all the time. It seems like nothing that happens could ever not be his fault. He is terrified of scaring Mack off by letting him take on any the many duties in their household…It’s a hot mess.

The thing I liked about this book is that things were REAL. Just because Mack and Joe were madly in love (which they were!!) didn’t mean  they would magically become well adjusted people with no issues or hang ups…They wanted each other, but they were who they were. Joe was stuck in his role of martyr, of taking on too much. Mack wanted to be better and more mature, but he still had his insecurities. His entire adulthood he’d been in a career where everything pretty much depended on how he looked, his emotionally manipulative ex had not helped matters. He had doubts on whether Joe could really see him as a PARTNER. Joe in his head was resistant to letting Mack do anything in the house, with the fear that he would get fed up with the doldrums of country life and run off to the city…Oh these two needed so serious communications counselling and a kick in the butt!!!

I was wringing my hands like crazy. But it worked out. It was a rough go, and Mack had to put his big girl pants on in order to save his relationship. Joe had to get his large head out of  his ass, and accept that he couldn’t actually do EVERYTHING on his own. They got it done though, and they did it with the help of their family. There was drama to be sure, but they ended in a good place.

Again a very pleasant read from Ms. Sherwood, enough sexy to keep things exciting, a lot of drama to keeps things interesting, heroes who were endearing even at their most infuriating, and a band of secondary characters (human, canine and equine!) who made the novel that much more interesting.

Not sure if we will get more from Mack and Joe, but I am glad I got to visit with them again so soon!

Riding Tall is available here.

Hope you enjoy the book and the wine. I promise they are both worth your time.

Cheers and Happy Reading!

Laura

The Fall by Kate Sherwood and a sturdy French Grenache Syrah Blend

Fall[The]LG I think Kate Sherwood is the one author in the genre I was scared off  of so completely early on, that I never kind of got up to trying her stuff.  I’m not even sure how it happened…You see this was before I was baptized in the church of Amy Lane, and I got scared off easy with any threat of angstiness…So long story short, this is my first Kate Sherwood read. I REALLY REALLY LIKED IT! First of all, it was not very angsty at all. Second,  it had great humor,  amazing supporting characters, and a couple of heroes that carried the romance pretty solidly without overpowering the interesting personalities that popped up throughout the story. I liked the dynamic between Mackenzie and Joe a lot. They were reluctant, and not ready to surrender at first…But it was hard staying away from something that felt so right.

For this book, I wanted something  to drink that was reliable and not too fussy, like Joe, but also good at a party and with a nice sleek look, like Mac. I chose a very affordable French Grenache Syrah blend, the 2011 Pere Et Fils Grenache Syrah from the Laurent Miguel Winery is flavorful, but not overwhelming. It has lovely fragrance and a surprisingly light taste for a blend of such intense grapes. It is about $9.00 a bottle, so a great choice all around. This wine is just perfect to sip while reading about two men clearly meant for each other, who just had to get over themselves and FALL. pere et fils

Mackenzie is out of his depths. He is in the middle of nowhere in in the Canadian countryside and has nothing to his name other than an old church building he bought on a whim, his dog and a pretty extensive (and fashionable!) wardrobe. His great idea of setting the church up as a place to host gay weddings, is looking less and less brilliant now that the can’t count on this sugar daddy’s money to renovate the place. He is kind of freaking out when the contractor comes in to take a look. The contractor, Will, and his brother Joe are two strapping types, the likes of which one would expect to find in the great outdoors. Joe is not much of a talker, but according to Mac’s gossipy neighbor, gayer than a rainbow. BINGO…Ummm well that certainly adds some appeal to country life. If only Joe ever spoke, looked (without glaring) or even acknowledged Mac’s presence…

Joe does not have time for dating, much less for prissy city boys deluding themselves with unrealistic business ventures. He has a lot of responsibilities. Since his parents died he has pretty much been in charge of the ranch and his siblings.  His twin brother helps, but when his younger brother got a girl pregnant in high school, and couldn’t care for the baby, Joe stepped up to care for his nephew. Austin is four now, and pretty much the light of the family’s life. Joe is specially attached to the little boy, frankly his life is way to busy to think about romance…And he has to keep reminding himself of that every time the temptation to go over to Mac’s place and ravage him gets a little hard too handle.

He gives in though, because seriously who could resist that amount of sexy, interested and VERY willing male just a few minutes away! Joe is human after all. Once they get started, things were just so easy, so familiar. Mac and Joe came together like they fit. Everything is delicious when they are together. They kept things casual of course, things are uncertain for Mac’s venture, Joe can’t commit with all this obligations to the farm and the family. It’s all for the best really, but the heart does what it likes, and by the time their baggage comes a calling, they are both pretty far gone.

I liked how this book made the trouble between Mac and Joe feel like something that needed to be resolved, so they could EVOLVE, but I never had the uneasiness that things would go horribly wrong (and it was a close thing a couple of times!). I liked Mac’s earnestness in his interest in Joe. Joe was a bit frustrating at times, but he was also real believable, it is SO EASY to let family and obligations take over. One minute we are young and carefree. The next time we look around ten years have passed, and we are bogged down by our duties, even if those duties are done out of love. I liked that Mac could see that Joe had a life he didn’t want to give up, but that he could use someone who could make the load lighter, someone to love HIM. I love where they arrived, and that in the end it all came down to being a little selfless, doing the right thing, and SAYING WHAT THEY FELT.

This was not an overly complicated story, but it had enough substance it made feel like I had earned that happy ending. Very nice writing as well,now I have to go, and do a search on Ms. Sherwood’s work and get to reading!

Recommend this one.

The Fall is available for for purchase here.

I hope you enjoy the story and the wine!

Cheers and Happy Reading!

Laura