Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

Title: Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch (States of Love)
Author: L.A. Merrill
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: May 31, 2017
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 74
Reviewed by: CrabbyPatty
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5


David Marks is looking for the perfect place to film his new web series and recover from his latest failed relationship. When reclusive writer Michael Sharp opens his Montana ranch to paying guests, David knows he’s found the right place—but he doesn’t expect to find Mr. Right too.

Forty years ago Michael Sharp’s father was murdered in front of him. No one believed a six-year-old boy’s testimony against the powerful Carver brothers. For years Michael has lived in self-imposed exile, the only living witness who can bring down the Carver criminal empire. But now the money is running out, and he’s forced to play host to a troupe of temperamental web actors and their energetically attractive director in order to stay alive.

The Carvers aren’t about to stand for rebellion. Michael has outlived his usefulness. Now Michael and David have to find a way to end this fight once and for all, finding justice for Michael’s father and meeting David’s funding deadline—all before one or both of them ends up dead.

David and his motley crew have booked a 10-day stay at Sharp’s Wilderness Ranch outside Fenton, Montana to film a six-part livesteam web series called Doone Valley, a Wild West take on the classic Lorna Doone (no, not the cookies … the English novel). Turns out there’s a bit of a misunderstanding about wifi and the lack thereof, so daily locations for the webcast are determined by finding high ground where the wifi hotspot on their camera can pick up a signal, and where their 5,000 feet of ethernet cable can reach.

Michael Sharp is a reclusive writer living in fear of the Carter brothers who murdered Sharp’s father 40 years ago. (Come to think of it, the Carter brothers echo the lawless Doone clan in the source material.) This is the sort of book where “I love you” is followed by a laconic “I know” and there’s only a kiss or two on-page, but it all just works:

“You’re a damn fool, you know that?” he murmured hoarsely just above my ear.
“It’s the popular theory.”

I’m not familiar with author L.A. Merrill, but she is a marvel. Her writing is crisp, sharp and very funny. She’s a master at saying a lot in a few words, there’s great funny asides to us readers, a convoluted plot makes perfect sense, we are introduced to a whole cast of characters who feel fleshed out with only a few words …. plus there’s a wolverine attack. 4.5 stars. Go read this book!

States of Love series

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Galley copy of Meanwhile,
Back at the Ranch
provided by Dreamspinner Press in exchange of an honest review.


Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.  Frederick Douglas I distinctly remember that day in school when, all of a sudden, those squiggles on the page made sense and I could read. It has changed my life in ways I still cannot comprehend. My favorite M/M tropes are friends-to-lovers, murder/mysteries, amnesia, hurt/healing and historicals. Shifters, vampires, paranormal? Meh ... not in my wheelhouse, but I'm a sucker for a well-written well-plotted book, no matter the genre. Favorite authors includes Brandon Witt, Rick R. Reed, Abigail Roux, Jay Northcote, JL Merrow, KJ Charles, Lane Hayes, Marshall Thornton and so many more. A few "badges" from NetGalley: 100 Book Reviews Reviews Published Professional Reader