Ramsey Carmichael has never cared about anyone or anything except writing the next story, until one innocent man turns his life around.
Barney Rader can’t shake the label he’s always carried—that of the town’s poor kid. It’s been him and his mom ever since his dad died years ago. He’s struggling to make a living and bring home enough money to keep him and his mom going. After months of trying, Barney gets hired at the Mossy Glenn Ranch, and the first thing he learns is that he wants Ramsey Carmichael. Bad.
Ramsey Carmichael has fucked more men than he can remember, and Barney is one tempting piece of ass. But while Barney might be naive, he isn’t stupid. Before Ramsey knows what hits him, he’s tangled up with Barney—and re-examining his life. Ramsey doesn’t like what he discovers, but turning his life around is a lot easier said than done.
Finally!!! I finally know how old Barney is. Yes that elusive tidbit of info has been annoying me because when he “distracted” Will after Troy’s attack in Chaps & Hope he seemed as though he was close to their age. Yet when Salt talked about him in Saddles & Memories I got the impression he was younger than I first surmised. As it turns out, Barney is only twenty but as we learn more about him in Fences & Freedom, I understood my confusion because Barney’s past meant he had to grow up fast and assume adult responsibilities sooner than he should have when his father died. No Barney wasn’t abused or anything like that. Well not in the sense we tend to think of because he was ridiculed by his peers for being poor and it was his mother’s financial woes that resulted in him growing up fast as he began doing what he could (legally) to bring in money to help his mom pay the bills. Yep, Barney is a keeper and it just so turns out that Ramsey, the Mossy Glenn’s least-liked hand, may just be the one to keep him.
As we find out in Fences & Freedom, Salt had every reason to be wary of Ramsey because he was not who he purported to be. But as the book unfolds and we learn who Ramsey really is, why he’s at the Mossy Glenn Ranch, and the reason behind it, I found myself sympathetic to his plight – especially after seeing how his father treated him. But of course, this is after I was annoyed with him for trying to stake his claim on the “new guy” when Barney started on at the Mossy Glenn. However, my annoyance was short-lived when I realized that Barney had taken a shine to Ramsey and the “hunter” soon became the “hunted” with practically no one being aware of it because nearly everyone underestimates Barney. While Barney is most definitely sweet and comes off as naïve due to his age and inexperience, he’s accustomed to working hard for what he wants and being patient as he works to obtain it. Because of this, he does a fine job of indulging his curiosities about sex, breaking down Ramsey’s defenses, and making Ramsey’s his without being used by Ramsey or going all the way before he was ready. Barney’s inexperience is easily outweighed by his enthusiasm and this makes for some really steamy scenes that left me chuckling at times.
I really enjoyed watching Barney break down Ramsey’s walls simply by being himself. Barney is a good kid with a good heart and while Ramsey set out to scratch his itch with the dumb young thing, he soon found that he not only underestimated Barney’s intelligence, but also what being around Barney’s inherent goodness would do to him. Barney made Ramsey want to be a better man – a man deserving of someone as good as Barney. This is what made his conscience rear its ugly head and lead him to try to make things right. While most underestimated Barney’s intelligence, few underestimated his goodness and it was his willingness to stand with Ramsey that made Carlos, Troy, and Will give Ramsey the second chance he needed. Fences & Freedom is yet another enjoyable addition to the Mossy Glenn Ranch series and I’m glad I still have more of them to read.