I gotta say, reading the synopsis of this one only confused me. Then when I started reading the Prologue I was even more confused.. so I'll try to also include a description which makes somehow more sense (naturally more revealing.. hopefully not too much).
The first time Crick (Carrick) and Deacon meet, it's on a bored Sunday in which Crick is avoiding getting to church with his mother and mean step-dad. He wonders around until he gets to Pulpit Horse Ranch. The impressive guy on the horse is Deacon and Crick truly CAN'T stop looking or talking (!) and yet up until Deacon gets off the horse he says nothing to him, when he finally does he mostly says - (Stay, but) Please don't talk too much it might frighten the horses. Parish Winters, Deacon's father already saw the 9 years old Crick wondering around town and somehow knew of his situation back home and so he offers him to stay the weekends with him and his son. Deacon might be 5 years older than Crick but still they form a close friendship that last for years. A friendship both of them are struggling with, as they want more and for different reasons don't reach out to one another.
That's what happens right around the third mark I think. Crick and Deacon's relationship was fascinating to see, especially how much they cared about one another and weren't ready to jeopardize it. For Crick, Deacon was a super-hero, which is exactly why Deacon put him off, he's just a guy like any other, and trying to hold to Crick's "standard" of how he sees him isn't something he can actually live up to. Crick on the other hand never realized Deacon is gay, or rather, that he is bi. He believed the relationship he had with Amy and saw how Deacon mourned it once it was over. When they finally act on their mutual attraction, Crick is 20 years old and still nursing all his fears from his past, the way his family treated him and how difficult his childhood was and so he makes the wrong move pulling them apart as he joins the army.
Actually the story begins with the sort of "present" in which Crick is finishing his army service getting organized to come back home. It takes more than half the book for us to finally get to this point and see what happens after the quite shocking end of that chapter. I gotta be truthful here, I was so immersed with the story I almost forgot what happened there.. I mean, I did keep waiting for us to get to this point in time, and yet there was little time to think about the future with all the mess happening in the "current present"..
While Crick grew up and matured during his service, Deacon had A LOT on his plate, including being depressed and making some mistakes he'll mourn forever. Yet he always maned up in the end to do the right thing. Deacon's heart is ALWAYS in the right place which makes it impossible for even his mistakes be seen more than him being human. I guess Crick would say I fell for Deacon like everyone else who "meets" him for the first time ;) Yet I loved Crick just as much. Yeah he made his big mistake but he was doing his best to stay alive and keep their relationship and not only that, try and care for Deacon from afar when he felt he was troubled. It was heart breaking at so many points I was heart broken more than half of the story for so many different reasons. Crick's life situation was so horrible, and they way it kept biting everyone in the ass didn't help.. But it wasn't the only situation they had to deal with, together or alone before they were back in each other's arms truly planning a future together.
I'm not going to write more about the plot, I've already said enough, maybe a bit too much.. The twists and turns Deacon and Crick goes through seem to never stop, not until the very end (I do feel the last chapter was a bit rushed but I'm not really complaining, it felt right the way it was because it was them). Though Crick keeps saying he doesn't have a lot of good friends and in a way no family / home, and though Deacon basically only had his dad and best friend (Jon) they seem to form a home in Pulpit with their close friends, some old, some new gathered "along the way". Near the end we get to meet two new friends which are the MCs in the next ones in the series, Shane (the cop) and Jeff (the PT). Though we don't get POVs of other characters, the people closest to both Deacon and Crick are very significant to the story, they are the ones to help hold everything together while Deacon and Crick is apart and help them out when they are finally together. They gravitated around Deacon (mostly) like the home he was for everyone. The quiet Deacon with his huge heart, always ready to help and yet not really knowing how to ask for it.
I can't recommend this book enough. It's a MUST READ! Pulpit Horse Ranch is a real place for me, in which all those wonderful special people live or even just visit. I wish I could go for a visit myself :) Horses are my true love and the fact Crick's horse is named "Comet" like the first horse I got to know and loved was also meaningful to me. I could totally see what Crick saw in Deacon and the ranch in general, I feel as though I would have felt the same. There is something about horses that brightens the soul and the two of them together, ~sigh~ the are NO WORDS.
Grab it! Read it! No way around it!
Additional Details: Kindle Ebook, 344 pages, 12-15 April 2016 / On GoodReads