Title: After the Fall (Tucker Springs #6)
Author: L.A. Witt
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase
Buy Link: Amazon.com Genre: Contemporary M/M, series
Length: Novel/54K words/206 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Review Summary: Another wonderful story in the Tucker Springs universe.
After years of saving every penny, Nathan has finally managed to buy the horse of his dreams. He’s looking forward to a summer of exploring the Colorado mountain trails above Tucker Springs with Tsarina. But on their very first ride, a motorcyclist makes a wrong turn, scaring Tsarina into bolting and leaving Nathan with a broken leg, a broken hand, and a ruined summer.
Ryan is a loner and a nomad, content with working odd jobs before moving on to the next town. Feeling guilty for causing the accident that leaves Nathan in two casts, Ryan offers to keep Tsarina exercised until Nathan heals.
Despite their bad start, Nathan and Ryan soon become friends . . . and then much more. But with a couple of nasty breakups in his past, Nathan doesn’t want feelings getting involved—especially knowing that Ryan will never settle down. But since when do feelings ever listen to reason?
Nathan had scrimped and saved for a long time to buy the horse, something he had always wanted as he had been riding since he was a child, and having his own horse was a dream come true. Unfortunately the first day he took Tsarina out he was involved in an accident. Talk about bad luck. A motorcycle came out of nowhere and spooked the horse which threw him, fell on him and then bolted. He was so incensed when the rider came back to find out how badly he was hurt that he punched him in the face. When he discovered the extent of his injuries that made him angrier, if it were possible – one of his legs and hands were broken, which meant he would be out of commission for months and couldn’t ride. However Ryan, the motorcycle rider, came to his rescue and offered to exercise his horse while he was laid up all summer.
Their relationship started off slowly because Nathan had been badly hurt twice by ex lovers and had sworn off men, so he wasn’t going to be opening his heart to a man any time soon regardless how good looking he was or how kind. He hadn’t had a lover in almost a year, preferring one night stands. To make him more relationship phobic, his friend Brad and his long-time boyfriend had just broken up and Brad had moved in with Nathan temporarily while he tried to figure out if they could find a way to get back together. This was a couple Nathan thought had everything going for them and if they couldn’t make it what hope was there for him, even if he wanted to be with someone, which he didn’t. In the meantime, Nathan and Ryan were getting along like a house on fire, and since they were both single and attracted to each other they soon started having sex. It was really funny how much planning went into the sex because of Nathan’s casts; the guys were very inventive as they let nothing stand in their way of a roll in the hay.
One major sticking point for Nathan, and one he couldn’t get over, was when he found out that Ryan was a nomad and never settled anywhere for more than a few months or a year at most, while he was the exact opposite having lived in Tucker Springs all his life. But Ryan was hard to resist, even though he told himself he wasn’t going to fall in love with him because he was a flight risk. Eventually there was a standoff which ended with a lot of hard feelings and a separation, maybe forever, as their issues seemed insurmountable.
This novella was very enjoyable for many reasons but mainly because the characters were so well matched but different, and although Ryan was not on-page as much as Nathan (the story is told from Nathan’s 1st person POV), he was vibrant and three dimensional. He was also kind, helping Nathan to get around by chauffeuring him whenever he could, supporting him physically as he climbed 7 flights of stairs to his apartment, and of course he also helped him into bed. 😀 . Ryan was a contradiction in that he was both timid and assertive as well as very shy, and in fact I liked him more than Nathan, although he was no slouch and didn’t whine too much about his fate except initially when he realized how long he would be in the casts and that he couldn’t ride the horse for months that he had spent so much money to acquire and was beginning to love.
L.A. Witt always impresses me with her characterizations and this book was no different, as she created two charming and very funny protagonists. While I did notice a few similarities in Nathan’s characterization and some of the author’s other MCs, (I have read a lot of her books) 🙂 such as his constant stream of internal dialogue – mostly second guessing himself – he was definitely not a copy of anyone. As for Ryan, his characterization was new to me and I thought he and Nathan were well matched.
One of the pluses of a series is that characters from previous stories make walk-on appearances and that was the case with After the Fall, so if you have read any of the stories in this universe you will be pleased to see some of your favourites return.
While this story has a HEA it was not the typical fairy tale ending with everything magically resolved. Both men recognized that they had a long road ahead and I love that there were a few loose ends which highlighted their differences and the work and compromises needed in the future to resolve them. Tsarina was the icing on the cake and you will fall for her as much as the guys did.
This is the sixth book in the Tucker Springs universe by different authors (L.A. Witt, Marie Sexton and Heidi Cullinan) and most of them are reviewed on the site.