Red Skies - Joanne Kells 3.5 stars

Angsty books are the type of books I won't willingly read without a push. Mostly because I don't want to cry. Now, that's not saying I hate them or don't enjoy them (because I usually love them once I actually start reading) just that I prefer not to have my face look like a bee stung it with how swollen and blotchy it gets from crying. Yeah, I'm not a pretty crier :-( Anyway, this book, while not as angsty as some, will still make you shed a tear or two... or you might not.

I'd first like to warn you that the beginning of this story gives a, more or less, detailed description of what a cowboy does on a ranch with cattle. I didn't mind it because I love learning stuff like this but others might get annoyed, bored or impatient with the descriptive cattle drive and land explanations. However, after you get past the beginning there isn't an overload of information anymore.

This book revolves around the struggles Jesse and Ade go through to have a healthy relationship. Jesse is a middle-aged grieving cowboy that is just starting to settle back into his life. He's had many ups and downs starting with his marriage and his divorce. Then with having to deal with his demanding psychotic bi-polar lover, Johnny, and six years later, he's still mourning Johnny's death and what he went through afterwards. He's just now starting to settle down but he's still a somewhat broken, grieving man. He doesn't think he really deserves to be loved again or to love anyone because of what happened with Johnny. Ade, the boss's son, left North Dakota because he knew he could never live openly as a gay man and find love if he stayed. He comes home from the Peace Corps when his father, Patrick, ends up in the hospital. Ade just wants to be loved for who he is and be able to live openly about it while Jesse is so in the closet it's not even funny. Jesse has no problem acting on his feelings for men but actually admitting it out loud in front of someone is out of the question but Patrick thinks they'd be great for one another and does what he can to make it happen.

As you can probably guess, this book is an emotional one. Jesse has to go through a lot of stuff to get into the frame of mind he needs to be able to give Ade what he deserves to have. It's about Jesse getting over the love he has for his dead ex and finally moving on, becoming the (somewhat) openly gay man he needs to be to finally have the life he's always (subconsciously) wanted. Beyond the sexual tension that laces the pages (and there's a bunch of it) Jesse and Ade really are a good match. It's kind of sweet how Ade is willing to wait for Jesse to get his head out of Johnny's ass but also how and what Jesse is willing to do to make it happen. I really enjoyed it.

My only reservation about this story was Johnny. I know he was paramount to the story but I felt some of the scenes regarding or revolving around him could have either been cut short or cut out completely. It was frustrating and overwhelming with how much we got of him to the point that I sometimes felt we learned more about the dead ex than we did about the two MCs, Jess and Ade. Plus, I just didn't like Johnny. He seemed like a weak and needy person. He annoyed me to no end. I don't think I would have minded that so much if it weren't for how many flashbacks there were of him. They frustrated me because they happened at times when I wanted the story to move forward instead of backward. So, because of that, I felt as if I was struggling to finish the story in certain parts.

Overall, though, I quite enjoyed the story. I loved Ade and Jesse. I loved seeing how Jesse grieved even though I wished there were less of it revolving around Johnny. For those of you who like a good grieving hero story, this one will definitely fit the bill. Recommended.