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I'm a hopeful cynic.

Bareback - Chris Owen *This review contains mild spoilers*Right. This is one of those times I can’t do a real review so I’ll mostly do the bullets thing and, hopefully, I’ll make some sense in the end.So. I started reading this for research purposes (long story, don’t ask) and ended up being furious. Great.Thoughts, thoughts, thoughts; in no particular order:• This was one of the rare cases a single POV story worked well for me. POV-wise, kudos to the author for a job well done.• I liked how Jake’s past served as a catalyst to who he eventually became. I also loved how Doug (the owner of the ranch) believed in him and stood by him over the years.• The sex. There was a lot of it, admittedly. But it didn’t bother me that much. I still understood the characters and felt that they developed as the story unraveled so no problem there by me. I have to admit though that the bondage scene in the barn was..wellllll...not good. Plus, letting someone use some horse reins on you once does not a submissive make.• The Lego. I loved the mental image of all those cowboys playing with Lego to relax and arguing about who gets to get the Harry Potter set or the space station set and so on. It made me smile more than once.• The gay bashing. Given that the story takes place in a small town in Arkansas, I expected it to be much worse. But it wasn’t. I guess I should be happy.• We didn’t get to see any of Jake’s interaction with his family (except for that visit his older brother paid him in the ranch, but that doesn’t count, it wasn’t welcome) and I wonder why. We did see how the couple’s first visit to Tor’s family was so why didn’t we see how things went when they first met Jake’s sisters and nephew?• Jake. He was an OK character. Since the story is told through his POV, I identified more with him and I was 100% behind him when he reacted like he did after that barn incidence. But I can’t say the same about his actions in the very last part of the book. Seeing “the light” after a mild bitch-slap from an old friend made those ten months of absolute misery he put himself through seem a little pointless. But at least he behaved like an adult most of the time.• Tor. I started off not knowing what to think about him, then tolerated him, then thought I had managed to like him (especially when he replied “I like how he tastes” to his little niece when she asked why he was kissing Jake, another man) and ended up hating him with a burning passion. You don’t do what he did, behave like he behaved—and not once but several times—and then go all “Boo hoo, I’m so sowwy, it won’t happen again” and expect things to return back to normal. You just don’t. It’s juvenile. Tough shit, Tor. You were caught red handed. Man up and live with the consequences. End of story.• Tor’s nickname. He got it because he did something resembling a tornado while giving head? All right. No further comment.• The last 1/3 of the book, where all hell broke loose. It was nicely done. The angst? It worked. I had to put everything else on hold to see what happened next. Work and RL be damned. Jake’s feelings? They came across quite clearly. Tor? Don’t get me started with him. At least he realized the real impact of his actions and repented.• There were some scenes that stayed with me and broke my heart a little. Like Jake asking Tor why he was still there and Tor replying that he was staying because Jake was there. Or Jake asking, ordering, Tor not to utter the “I love you” Tor so obviously wanted to say because he had missed his chance.• There were other scenes that made me roll my eyes. Like Tor’s ten-year-old niece, Susie, telling her middle-aged and somewhat narrow-minded distant aunt Dot that Jake was married to her uncle Tor and doing it on purpose because aunt Dot pretended uncle Tor was something he wasn’t. Hello cheesiness!• The HFN. It makes perfect sense. These two aren’t even close to resolving all their issues, they are relearning each other and reinventing their relationship so giving them a HEA would be downright ridiculous.So I can’t say I “enjoyed” this book because it made me wanna skin one character alive and yell at the top of my lungs to the other one but I liked it. It pushed the right buttons.