Welcome to our first week of celebrating the amazing
This week, we will focus on the Lang Downs series, plus a chance to win one of Ariel's books. Let us know down there in the comments if you've read one or more of these books. :)
First in the series, Inherit The Sky
Caine Neiheisel is stuck in a dead-end job at the end of a dead-end relationship when the chance of a lifetime falls in his lap. His mother inherits her uncle's sheep station in New South Wales, Australia, and Caine sees it as the opportunity to start over, out on the range where his stutter won't hold him back and his willingness to work will surely make up for his lack of knowledge.
Unfortunately, Macklin Armstrong, the foreman of Lang Downs who should be Caine's biggest ally, alternates between being cool and downright dismissive, and the other hands are more amused by Caine's American accent than they are moved by his plight... until they find out he's gay and their amusement turns to scorn. It will take all of Caine's determination-and an act of cruel sabotage by a hostile neighbor-to bring the men of Lang Downs together and give Caine and Macklin a chance at love.
Get the book:
Book 2, Chase The Stars
Twenty-year-old Chris Simms is barely keeping his head above water. After losing his mother and his home, he struggles to provide for himself and his brother. When homophobes attack him, he thinks his life is over, but then he’s rescued by jackaroos from a nearby sheep station. He's as stunned to be offered a job there as he is to discover both the station owner and foreman are gay.
For Chris, Lang Downs is a dream—one that only gets better when Chris realizes the jackaroo he's crushing on, Jesse Harris, is gay and amenable to a fling. Everything goes well until Chris realizes he’s falling for Jesse a lot harder than allowed by their deal.
Jesse is a drifter who moves from station to station, never looking for anything permanent. Convinced Chris is too young and fragile for a real relationship, he sets rules to keep things casual. Watching the station owner and his foreman together makes Jesse wonder if there are benefits to settling down, but when he realizes how Chris feels about him, he panics. He and Chris will have to decide if a try for happiness is worth the risk before the end of the season tears them apart.
Get the book:
Third in the series, Outlast The Night
Office manager Sam Emery is unemployed and out of luck. When his emotionally abusive wife demands a divorce, he contacts the one person he has left, his brother, Neil. He doesn’t expect Neil to reject him, but he also doesn’t expect the news of his divorce—and of his sexuality—to be met with such acceptance.
Neil takes Sam to Lang Downs, the sheep station Neil calls home. There, Sam learns that life as a gay man isn’t impossible. Caine and Macklin, the station owners, certainly seem to be making it work. When Caine offers Sam a job, it’s a dream come true.
Jeremy Taylor leaves the only home he’s ever known when his brother’s homophobia becomes more than he can bear. He goes to the one place he knows he will be accepted: Lang Downs. He clicks with Sam instantly—but the animosity between Lang Downs and Jeremy’s home station runs deep, and the jackaroos won’t accept Jeremy without a fight. Between Sam’s insecurity and Jeremy’s precarious position, their road will be a hard one—and that’s without having to wait for Sam’s divorce to be final before starting a new life together.
Get the book:
And, so far, the final book in the series, Conquer The Flames
Thorne Lachlan knows a thing or two about getting himself safely out of a blaze. For years he fought in the world’s hot spots, a Commando with the Australian Army. Now, retired, he fights flames for the Royal Fire Service. When a grassfire brings him to Lang Downs, the next sheep station in danger, Thorne meets Ian Duncan and sparks fly that neither man can put out. But both men have ghosts from the past that stand in the way of moving beyond mutual attraction.
While Thorne longs for the home he could share with Ian at Lang Downs, he fears his own instability might make him a danger to others. And Ian’s always believed that the foster care nightmare he escaped before coming to Lang Downs would make any relationship impossible. Trust doesn’t come easily to Thorne or Ian until the fire’s aftermath forces them to see past the scars keeping them both from healing.
Get the book:
Sandra's review of Conquer The Flames:
This was my second exposure to the Lang Downs series by this author, after reading book one which garnered three stars due to the romance being so unbelievable.
We get glimpses here again of Caine and Macklin, and their relationship, while not at the forefront of this book, was nice to revisit.
Lang Downs continues to be a haven for those in need of a true home. Whether it be abusive husbands, minorities and especially gay men - they all find a place at this sheep farm and are included in the family. This book is all about Thorne Lachlan, a former Australian Commando (Special Ops, I presume) soldier now serving as a firefighter in the Australian Outback, and Ian Duncan, a year-rounder on Lang Downs, who keeps mostly to himself.
Thorne has serious PTSD, and it's affecting his interactions with others. Approaching him from behind is never a good idea, and touching him without warning isn't either. Still, he's a damn good fire fighter. Sent to Lang Downs by his Chief to warn the owners about the approaching bush fire and start preparations, he meets Ian Duncan and immediately is intrigued by the quiet man.
Ian hides his own secrets that only come out over the course of the book, and I won't spoil it for you. Let it suffice that his struggles are serious, and should probably come with a trigger warning.
What I loved about this book was the relationship. The romance. It wasn't easy, not with the issues that plague these men, but it was beautiful. They truly, truly loved each other and were willing to fight for each other, even if it meant being apart for a while to work on their issues. What also really impressed me was Thorne's willingness to give up all control to Ian, because he instinctively knew that Ian needed it. He was so very careful during all their intimate scenes, yet still enough of not-a-saint to flip out completely once he hears Ian's full story. Not because he's angry with Ian, but because he's enraged that someone hurt the man he loves.
The scenery is gorgeous. I've never been to Australia, so I only know of the outback based on what I've seen in pictures, but the author is either very familiar with the landscape or did her research well. Her words transported me into the scenery, and it was breathtakingly beautiful.
Of course, this being a romance, there is a HFN. The intimacy between the two men is wonderfully described, full of emotions, and I often felt like an intruder just reading those words. What was lacking for me in the first book was fully explored and so well done in this one.
And even though I didn't read books 2 and 3, there was sufficient background story given on those characters that I never felt confused. This is a standalone story, with a beginning, middle and end, though it draws on the characters from the previous books and hints at their relationship struggles.
Gorgeous. Give this a try.
I received a free ARC from Dreamspinner Press. A positive review was not promised in return.
About Ariel Tachna:
Thanks for celebrating with us. Join us again next week for more of Ariel Tachna. Until then, happy reading!