Title: Wanting it All
Author: Emma Lai
Publisher: Loose Id
Length: 24,109 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Western Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Two Alpha Men, Suits (Lawyers), Cowboys, Dude Ranch, Closeted/Coming Out
Rating: So So
Clayton Palmer is an up and coming lawyer in the family’s East Coast firm. A long-standing agreement with his father allows Clayton to head to Colorado during the summer–to work hard as a dude ranch hand and if he’s lucky, play harder with a hot cowboy, or two. But this summer, his luck is all bad. His normal bunk buddies are missing, and a lawyer from a competing West Coast firm is a guest.
A week-long retreat with clients doesn’t hold any appeal for James Owens until he spies Clayton hauling in the luggage. James has lost to Clayton in the courtroom more times than not, and while he’s longed to gain the upper hand over his attractive nemesis in trial, he’ll settle for winning in the bedroom when Clayton approaches him and offers to do anything for James to keep his secret.
Though he’s always been attracted to James, Clayton’s unprepared for the emotions the man inspires and runs scared. Haunted by his feelings for James and doubts about his lifestyle, he decides it’s time to seize hold of the reins of his life. When the dust settles, will James be willing to let him into his heart?
Note: This book contains explicit sexual situations, graphic language, and material that some readers may find objectionable: male/male sexual practices.
I believe that this is the first m/m romance this author has written. At the very least, she is new to me and the blurb and cover were both quite tempting. I haven’t read a cowboy book in a while, and thought I didn’t expect it from the blurb, I liked the dynamic between the two characters, the whole two alphas going head to head in a battle of wills can be intriguing. That’s just how I saw it, as both men were quite stubborn and had a prior competition that bled over into their relationship, but I also wouldn’t say that that dynamic was the focus of the story.
The story is quite short for the length and I did have some trouble with how the story was split into two different halves. We get to know the two men on the dude ranch in Colorado. Clay is spending his summer there, as he has done for several years as a ranch hand. It is the only time of the year he can be himself, but he’s lonely this year without the other two men who usually spend the summer with him. They’ve both come out and are now in committed relationships. The loneliness of being at the ranch alone only echo his decision to toe to his powerful father’s expectations. James is another high powered litigator based across the US in San Francisco. Unlike Clay, James is out and proud and refuses to date another man in the closet. The ranch gives them anonymity to get to know each other away from the world in which they are rivals on opposite sides of the bench during the many cases they’ve gone up against one another.
The second half really switched things up. Right around the 50% mark, there is a huge shift in time, where Clay gets fed up (like we knew he would) and makes some changes in his life. We see very little of this, most of which is summarized. I’m not a big fan of this style, in fact is really frustrates me. I would have loved to see Clay’s transition at this point, it’s the most powerful part of the story. But, we don’t get to see the most of it, and the story starts 6 months later when he tries to win James back.
For the most part, the giant plot hole made this story disappointing for me. Also, it made it nothing special. I’ve read countless stories exactly like this one, and while somewhat enjoyable at the moment, it isn’t memorable. Maybe it would be different if I hadn’t felt cheated out of the mid-story development. This is a good read if you’re really into cowboys and/or are looking for a short, little stress read that doesn’t offer much complication or time out of your schedule. There are a few sexy explicit scenes, but nothing totally scorching, at least to me. I did like the dynamic between the characters though — they had a stubborn (but not too stubborn) head to head competitive thing going that worked well in the bedroom. The story is too short to really see the development of that as well.