Ian McCain’s always been one cold, hard man, but a sexy little cook is about to melt his heart.
Drake loves his job as a cook at the Mossy Glenn Ranch. He just wishes he wasn’t scared out of his mind. His ex has him convinced he’s never going to be loved again, so he vows to remain alone.
Officer Ian McCain doesn’t play well with others—unless he’s got a whip or paddle in his hand and a sub at his feet. Control is all he’s had for years now, and he doesn’t think he’s capable of having a relationship.
Then he pulls up at the Mossy Glenn and sees a sexy man with a cute puppy on a leash. From that moment on, Drake might as well have Ian on a leash too, or at least his heart. Ian breaks down Drake’s walls almost as fast as Drake destroys his.
I was quite excited when I learned that Ropes & Dreams was Drake’s story as he managed to worm his way into my heart in Chaps & Hopes. Considering the news he got at the end of that book, I was curious to see how Bradford would have him find his match. As it turned out, the author handled a tough subject with sensitivity and a strong, informed dose of reality that made me admire her writing even more. In addition to Drake’s romance, fans are also treated to a bit of intrigue and suspense as an arsonist appears on the scene.
Toward the end of the previous book, Drake received a call from his ex-boyfriend telling him that Rigo had tested positive for HIV. Obviously Drake was devastated by this news and continued to worry about his status even after the first negative results knowing that it could still be too soon for a positive result on a test. Considering his history of poor choices in men, Drake swears off men deciding that he’d rather be safe and alone than with someone and abused. But Officer Ian McCain soon has him rethinking his new vow, because despite the man’s cold eyes and stoic personality, Drake finds himself attracted to the man. Once Drake finds out that the attraction runs both ways, he knows he has to reveal his possible HIV exposure and is surprised when it doesn’t send Ian running. It was Ian’s initial reaction to the news and the way in which the men embarked upon a SAFE sexual relationship that left me admiring Bradford’s writing even more. Rather than treating Drake as a diseased and unlovable being (as his ex was attempting to do), Ian shares his personal history with an HIV+ individual and not only explains to Drake that a sexual relationship isn’t off the table, but proceeds to show him that he is not only lovable and touchable, but also deserving of love. I really liked how Bradford used Drake and Ian’s relationship as an opportunity to educate readers within the context of the story, keeping to the flow of the storyline and avoiding the “soapbox” feel that can too easily occur. If the sex scenes weren’t hot enough, the added BDSM elements ratcheted the eroticism up as Drake learned even more about himself under Ian’s guiding hand.
There was actually more than one romantic suspense angle in Ropes & Dreams. The main one involving the arsonist certainly shocked me as I was not only surprised by the arsonist’s identity but also the way in which his arrest scene played out. Bloody heck that scared me! The minor suspense elements involving Drake’s ex and Ian’s stepbrother not only helped to explain why both men behaved the way they did, but they both served as plausible suspects for the arsonist, and this kept me guessing as to who it was. Watching Drake and Ian fall in love and in bed, the BDSM elements, the sensitivity regarding the subject of HIV, the romantic suspense angles, and catching up with Carlos, Troy, and Will made Ropes & Dreams a thoroughly enjoyable read for me and secured it a spot on my reread shelf. I’m ready for Saddles & Memories.