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Montana #1

Crooked Tree Ranch

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When a cowboy meets the guy from the city, he can't know how much things will change.

On the spur of the moment, with his life collapsing around him, Jay Sullivan answers an ad for a business manager with an expertise in marketing, on a dude ranch in Montana.

With his sister, Ashley, niece, Kirsten and nephew, Josh, in tow, he moves lock stock and barrel from New York to Montana to start a new life on Crooked Tree Ranch.

Foreman and part owner of the ranch, ex-rodeo star Nathaniel 'Nate' Todd has been running the dude ranch for five years ever since his mentor Marcus Allen became ill.

His brothers convince him that he needs to get an expert in to help the business grow. He knows things have to change; but when the new guy turns up, with a troubled family in tow - he just isn't prepared for how much.

This is a previously released title. It includes a new chapter and is re-edited with new cover art.

275 pages, Kindle Edition

First published December 13, 2013

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About the author

R.J. Scott

266 books2,562 followers
RJ Scott is a USA TODAY bestselling author of over 140 romance and suspense novels. From bodyguards to hockey stars, princes to millionaires, cowboys to military, she believes that love is love and every man deserves their own happy ending.

Find RJ here: Amazon | BookBub | Facebook - Also, Never miss a release

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5 stars
689 (29%)
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932 (40%)
3 stars
582 (25%)
2 stars
87 (3%)
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25 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 346 reviews
December 2, 2013
Considering its short length, this book was amazingly well developed with solid characters. Nate and Jay felt real to me. They both had deep loyalty to their families and knew what they wanted. There wasn't a lot of angst here, just tension, a slowly developing love story, and two guys wanting a forever (swoon on cue here). A few plot points were seemingly dropped (What happened to Justin? Did Henry have something to do with it), but I'm assuming they'll be further developed in book 2 (which I would happily read). And of course, ride-me gay cowboys are always a boon...saddle up!
Profile Image for Erth.
3,497 reviews
September 18, 2019
Crooked Tree Ranch by RJ Scott is all about family. It is the veritable city slicker meets country boy, as two families from different walks of life are joined together. Sprinkled with low drama, some tension, and a heaping of family love, Crooked Tree Ranch introduces the many inhabitants of Crooked Tree, along with the coupling of the first pair in this Montana series.

Let’s meet the city slicker Sullivan’s from Manhattan: Jay, his sister, Ashley, and her two kids, Kirsten & Josh. Jay is the head of the clan, supporting his sister, and is a surrogate father to his niece and nephew. Jay loves his family despite Ashley’s depression and abusive ex, Kirsten’s rebellious attitude and goth attire, and Josh’s recently discovered dyslexia.

Now let’s introduce the Hunky Todd brothers: Nate, Gabe, Luke, and the missing Justin. Nate is head-of-household, taking on the role after the tragic death of their parents. Starting at the age of eighteen, Nate’s sole purpose has been his siblings and their failing dude ranch. He only allows himself casual acquaintances and is caught completely off guard by Jay, the cocky city boy.

When a twist of fate leaves Jay unemployed with limited job prospects, he takes his marketing skills to the Todd brothers. Needing to turn Crooked Tree around, the Todd’s seek his expertise to beef up profits of their ranch. Alas, with a bit of resistance, Jay packs up his family to head for the country and a new start for all of them.

Talk about two different worlds colliding, assumptions based on first impressions, and a mixing of two families that appear to be headed for disaster. But… the common theme is family with all its complications, issues and resounding love. There is so much wrapped up in these pages.

The slow-burn romance that builds between Nate and Jay is actually second to the central theme, but nonetheless sweet and sexy, while setting the stage for the Crooked Tree world to take shape. Let’s just say that I was pulled into ‘Crooked Tree Ranch’ and thoroughly engrossed in the story.
Profile Image for Meags.
2,108 reviews370 followers
June 16, 2020
3.5 Stars

Family is a focal point of this story, perhaps even more so than the romance that blossoms between cowboy Nate Todd and city slicker Jay Sullivan.

Each man would move heaven and Earth to protect and provide for their families, with Nate being the oldest of three brothers, living and working on a horse ranch—Crooked Tree Ranch—left to them by their deceased parents; and Jay, a NYC marketing pro who works tirelessly to support his older sister and her two children in the aftermath of an abusive relationship.

When Crooked Tree Ranch shows signs of buckling, Nate and his partners decide that bringing in a business manager to rebrand and promote Crooked Tree is a necessity to the ranch’s survival. Finding someone qualified in a variety of fields and willing to work out in Montana for little pay proves tricky, but when Jay loses his big city job in the recession he’s forced to make drastic changes, if only to keep himself and his family with a roof over their heads, so he takes the job at Crooked Tree Ranch—a move that effectively changes all of their lives for the better.

Jay and Nate’s romance developed with ease, with nary a relationship roadblock in sight, but it felt right for the story. They didn’t meet until around the 30% mark, which gave me plenty of time to warm to each character before their romance even began. They had a fun opposites-attract vibe to them, getting off on the wrong foot but slowly letting their initial attraction grow into mutual respect and longing. I liked them as a couple and I enjoyed watching how their two families melded into one under the backdrop of a gorgeous Montana setting.

The large cast of characters were likeable and interesting—enough so that I look forward to continuing on with the other stories in this series.
Profile Image for Jenni Lea.
802 reviews291 followers
December 7, 2013
Jay - city boy extraordinaire

Jay was recently laid off from his marketing job in New York. He’s desperate to find work so he can support his small family. He’s taken on the role of provider for his sister and her two kids. After many unsuccessful attempts at landing a new job in the city he answers an ad for a business manager and marketing director at a dude ranch in Montana…

Nate - gruff cowboy alpha male

Nate is co-owner of Crooked Tree Ranch, a dude ranch that has been in his family for generations. After a meeting with one of his partners in which he’s informed they are on the down slope to going under he agrees to hire someone to come in and revamp the ranch and hopefully garner more business. He never expected someone like Jay to answer their ad.

Jay and Nate were simply adorable together. After a few false starts they eventually agree to become “friends with benefits” in order to avoid any feelings developing. Yeah right. Like that ever works out. Both want more but is afraid to voice it. Finally, they decide to cut all the bullshit and just tell each other how they feel. I love it when honesty prevails and we don’t have to trudge through all the angst to get to the HEA.

There are two things RJ Scott really excels at. The first is the slow burn. I’m not normally fond of the slow burn. I’m more of an insta-love fan. I have the patience of a four year old who was just told they were going to visit Disney World soon. When I come across a slow burn, while reading I usually end up saying something like “When are they going to get together?” or “Just hurry up and fuck already!”. But with Ms. Scott’s books I get drawn in and find myself more invested in the story than the sexy times. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for the sex but I like everything else that goes into one of her books just as much. The way it is drawn out is not angst ridden. It is more of a natural progression; something you would see or experience yourself in real life. Funny thing is, this is the fastest I have ever read of her MC’s getting together. Usually it takes months or even years with her characters. This time it only took three weeks. But it felt like a lot more time was spent with them getting to know each other. It felt realistic and natural.

The second thing that RJ Scott is aces with is the portrayal of children and family. In this book in particular, Josh, who is six acts just like a six year old would. He’s excitable and exuberant and so completely normal and just an all around joy to read about. Kirsten is a sullen 15 year old who is hiding behind her goth persona and bad attitude until she figures out who she is. I can relate to every bit of it. It just makes the book all the more believable.

I was thrilled at how the secondary storylines played out. The portrayal of the secondary characters was thorough and fully fleshed out. The time was taken to explain why some characters acted the way they did. Take Henry for example. When you first meet him you get the idea that he is just an intolerant, hate filled bastard. As you get to know him you see there is way more to his story than simple hate. There are reasons why he is the way he is. That doesn’t excuse his behavior but at least you have some understanding as to why he acts as he does.

While the story does have a satisfying HEA, there are a few plot lines that are left open ended. This excites me because it means there are more books to come. I can’t wait! I’m eager to read more about these families and how their lives mesh together.

ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Profile Image for Macky.
1,830 reviews233 followers
December 6, 2013
3.75* rounded up.
The start of a new cowboy series and a very nice, sweet read. I loved the friction between Jay and Nate when they first met and the fact that it built up some good tension in the early stage of their relationship. There's a few story lines and mysteries brewing in the background which I can see coming into the series as it progresses so I'm definitely going to keep reading. I like the family theme running through and there's some interesting characters in there that I'm sure we'll come to know and love.

It takes a while before the two guys finally get together, and the love scenes are fairly spaced out but that doesn't really matter as the story has enough threads going on to keep you invested. There's Jays family and their problems concerning his sister, her abusive ex and her kids and the backstory and ongoing conflicts surrounding Nate, his brothers and the ranch's future which again will obviously be addresses more over time. Both families are very likeable even though for a while Kirsten, the goth teen does have her moments!!!

Overall a good solid start and one I think will get even better as the series goes on. Enjoyable!
Profile Image for Christelle.
808 reviews
April 27, 2017
An enjoyable read with cowboys, horses, the Montana mountains, and families.

Jay takes care of his sister and her 2 children and decides to take a marketing job in a ranch after being fired and wanting to put some distance between his family and his sister’s abusive ex. There, he meets one of the owners of the ranch, Nate, and his brothers.

The cute city boy meets the grumbling cowboy. It’s sweet, full of nice feelings. For a short story, it’s entertaining, even though with no surprises, and leads the way to other romances at the ranch.

PS : this is a nice gift from an unknown elf during the SS exchange. **Thank you, anonymous Elf :-)**
Profile Image for Trio.
2,974 reviews171 followers
February 5, 2020
Who doesn't love seeing city slickers fumble around on a ranch? R.J. Scott does a good job starting this series, introducing the characters and setting up the background info for the ranch. Doubly enjoyable this time around because I got to hear Sean Crisden perform it for me.

an audiobook copy of Crooked Tree Ranch was provided to me for the purpose of my honest review
Profile Image for Trisha Harrington.
Author 2 books124 followers
December 9, 2013
Another RJ favourite for me.

Crooked Tree Ranch is the first book in the new Montana series by RJ Scott and let me just say, I adored it! I'm a huge fan of cowboys so this was definitely my thing.

I loved the build up to everything. Nate and Jay don't meet straight away. But that gives us a nice bit of background and character introduction. Two things that I really loved in this book. We also had a chance to get to know the characters. Everything started out really well, which was a really good thing.

It's unusual for me to adore kids in books. Here, though, I adored them. Kirsten and Josh were really great. Kirsten, the teenager, definitely won me over straight away. She wasn't the perfect, preppy kid. Josh was adorable and I felt both he and his sister complimented Jay. He was such a dad to them. It was definitely cute.

The romance was really sweet. I liked the two together. Both men had their issues, in a sense. But those issues seemed to make them perfect for each other. And I hope we get to see more of them in the series.
Profile Image for Cory .
727 reviews88 followers
December 5, 2013
It seems that any book R.J. Scott writes about cowboys draws me in! I really enjoyed this short story about a cowboy running a failing ranch and a city boy who comes to help.

First off....Nate. He definitely doesn't mix words and sometimes doesn't say the right things, but I absolutely adored him. Especially the way he was with his little brothers.

Jay had an edge to him and was sometimes cocky, but as with Nate, I loved the way he was with his sister.

I love books that put two explosive personalities together where the first meeting is a disaster and then it builds from that point! It's one of my favorite types of books to read. The ending did feel slightly rushed, but it was a short story so it is what it is. I loved it none the less and will definitely be reading the second book.

Until then....I will be anxiously awaiting for Texas Christmas which comes out in a few weeks. If you read this an enjoyed it, you should definitely read the Texas series! :)
Profile Image for Martin.
744 reviews410 followers
April 9, 2016
DNF at 56%
I'm quite sad that this story didn't work out at all for me. Jay and Nate did not seem like a natural match and their interactions rather bored me. All characters were set up to end up with each other (Jay gets Nate, Ashley gets Gabe, Kirsten gets Luke, Marcus has Sophia), which doesn't really keep me on the edge of my seat and made me wonder why I should even finish this.
So I'm gonna let this one go.
2 stars.
Profile Image for Ezi Chinny.
2,530 reviews414 followers
July 14, 2017
This story was very sweet and satisfying. It wasn’t overly dramatic and angsty but it was emotionally engaging enough that I listened to the book in one day. I have to be honest, I am on the fence about Sean Crisden, but his narration of this story was spot on. The author told the story in a dual POV and the voices the narrator used for the characters fit my image of them. This one was one of Sean Crisden’s better performances.

Jay Sullivan worked for a marketing firm while taking care of his sister Ashley who has a history of falling in love with abusive guys. Currently, Jay was standing as a male figure for his 15 year old niece Kristen and 6 year old nephew Josh as Ashley’s husband was serving time in jail for abusing them. When Jay is laid off from his firm, coupled with Ashley’s husband was released from jail, Jay quickly accepted a job to be a business manager for a ranch in Montana and they quickly flee New York City.

Crooked Tree Ranch was hemorrhaging money so they agreed to trying marketing the Ranch differently to attract new customers. The Ranch is owned by three families, The Todds, The Allens and the Starachs. Nate, Gabe and Luke represent the Todd family and work on the Ranch. They were skeptical about the City boy Jay being in charge of creating a marketing plan, but they were low in funds and they were desperate.
Nate is the oldest and he used to work in the rodeo circuit so the city boy just rubbed him the wrong way. But Nate accepted that Jay’s expertise was necessary so he tried to tamper his irritation with Jay. What Nate couldn’t ignore was his attraction to Jay and vice versa. Soon, the two agreed to try a relationship. Nate and Jay were a delight because their attraction was clear but they were so supportive and accepting of each other and their respective families.

I though the author did a great job in building up the relationship so while it was short amount of time, it didn’t feel like insta-love. RJ Scott’s writing appeals to me because she focuses on the family, their interactions and their emotions more than the physical acts between the couples. I prefer a juicy story over copious amounts of sex so this audiobook was so good. There was a number of subplots, but the pace at which the author tackled them was comfortable so the reader never felt bogged down with angst or overly emotional scenes. I am looking forward to finding out more about the second family of the Ranch trifecta, The Allens.

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Profile Image for Eli Easton.
Author 74 books2,610 followers
January 4, 2014
I quite got sucked into this RJ Scott novel. I enjoy family-oriented romance novels and this one has two families at the forefront. There're the Sullivans: Jay, his sister and her two kids, who live in Manhattan and need to find a new home when Jay loses his high powered marketing job, and his sister's violent ex becomes a problem. Then there are the Todds, three hunky cowboy brothers who own a dude ranch in Montana which is badly failing.

Of course, this Brady Bunch mix is a match made in heaven. Jay helps turn the ranch around while falling for Nate, the gruff cowboy who heads the Todd family. Other romances are in the air as well between the Sullivans and the Todds.

I always enjoy cowboy stories and, as you would expect from RJ, this one is smoothly well-written and pulls you forward chapter by chapter. It cost me at least a few hours of sleep last night.

Worth it. :-)
Profile Image for BWT.
2,152 reviews218 followers
June 19, 2017
Crooked Tree Ranch is the first book in a (so far) four book series. There's a dual POV with slow burn, on page sexy times, some humor, and not a lot of angst.

While I thought the characters are mostly fleshed out, there's a lot that just skims the surface, and I felt like the story was missing some real conflict to drive it forward.

Nate is dyslexic, Jay was in a toxic relationship, Ashley has depression and has been physically and emotionally abused, and her son Josh has dyslexia, but none of this seems to be really explored.

The angst definitely could have been overwhelming from those storylines (especially concerning Jay's sister Ashley), but because everything is only very superficially explored, it kept the story from becoming too OTT.

At the same time, I can't help wishing some of the topics had been explored more.

As for the audio, Sean Crisden does a wonderful job with the narration, as well as with all the character voices, and the timing is really good. It's a smooth, enjoyable listen.

All in all, it's a slow burn romance and the pace of the story reflects it. It's a sweet romance and has a strong HFN/HEA and likable characters.

I enjoyed the narration, and will check out the next book in the series.
Profile Image for Candice.
932 reviews
November 24, 2013
3.25 stars

I have mixed feelings about this book. I love this author and pretty much have read most of her stories, so when a new series came out, especially with my favorite, cowboys, it was an auto buy for me.

I enjoyed the book, however unlike others by this author, this one was very slow going for me. I kept wanting it to move along. I realize that this is the first in a new series and the characters need to be set up and the background given, I understand and appreciate that but it just seemed to take a little too long and I was getting frustrated.

I liked the sense of family with this series and really liked the Todd brothers, more so Gabe and Luke. Nate grew on me a little, but I really didn't like him in the beginning, I felt he was just a jerk for the sake of it, not just to Jay, but to the other people around. He did reedem himself somewhat, but he was not my favorite and I hope that he will grow on me more as the series continues.

I felt this book was definitely more of a set up book for the rest of series, too many unanswered questions about Marcus, his son, the other missing son, etc. I am interested enough to continue with series and see where the author takes it.
Profile Image for Cadiva.
3,341 reviews306 followers
July 10, 2018
I love starting a series from RJ Scott because I know I'm going to get a well crafted tale of family and romance with a side order of steamy encounters and a little bit of humour.

Montana is no different and this relatively short opener sets all the scene without ever being a wall of exposition. We see Jay and Nate connecting and falling for each other, we see Gabe and Ashley doing the same.

There's tensions enough to stop the narrative all being one tone but they're the every day life kind, not mad dramady or unbelievable events.

I can't wait to find out more.

#ARC kindly received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review.
Profile Image for Heller.
974 reviews119 followers
December 4, 2013

Start of a new series. I'd read more. On a bit of cowboy kick lately and this definitely delivers. A struggling Montana dude ranch hires a marketing expert from New York City. This focuses quite a bit on the marketing strategies which I found interesting. There are a few mysteries alluded to in the story so I'm curious to see where the other books in the series go.
Profile Image for Meep.
2,060 reviews201 followers
December 29, 2021
This is one hot mess, and I don't mean sexy hot. Quitting at 31%. The main couple (if the blurb is to be believed) have just met, kinda, but I don't care.

The secondary couple which is more obviously going to happen has spun me out. Nate is three years off thirty, so 27yrs, his brothers are considerably younger, they're written younger but middle brother must be at a guess early twenties. His love interest is Jay's sister, a seriously messed up woman who bakes cakes all day and was trying to get back with her ex-con (for abuse?) ex who had hit her about, bruises still vivid, she has a 15yr old daughter so is hopefully at least 30yrs but needs major help not a new young boyfriend.

I'm guessing there'll be a third relationship as there's a younger brother and the sister's daughter which is just nice and neat for coupling up. And downright weird, but what do I know!

Dunno if Jay's ex will reappear but he was cartoonishly super-villian to being almost funny.

The characterisation is just weak. I can't get behind any of these. Serious money issues come up but 'I'll talk about that later' nothing is dealt with. I couldn't understand talk of expansion while failing and doing bare minimum to keep place going - Just the two of them doing any work? Only one horse on the ranch? There's cabins? Who looks after them? Either the setting is poorly thought out or these guys just don't deserve to succeed, they'd rather float along feeling hurt than speak, fix, do anything.

Oh and Nate watches porn, because that scene is mandatory. And goes to some all embracing bar to get off with someone, so the ranch can't be in that isolated a place.

I think if I read on this would spiral down from unsatisfying to ranty annoying.
Profile Image for Kaje Harper.
Author 76 books2,513 followers
January 8, 2020
One of six free books available right now (Jan 2020) on Prolific Works - https://claims.prolificworks.com/gg/T...

This is a sweet, low-key, cowboy and city slicker story, with the addition of a sister, two kids, and some ranch family. Jay loses his advertizing job in New York, and in a moment of impulse, facing a lack of other workable options, takes a short-term position creating publicity for a Montana dude ranch. The position at least comes with housing on the ranch, and it's a chance to move his sister far away from her abusive ex, with kids in tow. He may know nothing about ranching, but he didn't have to be constipated to write a campaign for laxatives. He figures the same principles apply.

Horseman and ex-bull-rider Nate has avoided getting his nose into the business side of running the family ranch, not least because he's still hiding the degree to which his dyslexia makes math difficult. He is blindsided by the financial trouble they're in, and channels that into irritation with the idea that they need some city guy who's never been on a horse to make the ranch viable. But as a gay man, he's attracted to Jay on sight even though he doesn't want to be. I liked that Nate was out to his family, taking the anticipated issue of being closeted off the table in this one. It took me a while to see their relationship as being more than lust and proximity, but by the end it worked for me.

There's a familiarity to the story, as Jay creates a functioning website for the ranch and Nate teaches him to ride. The resolutions to the various issues for all the characters carry no surprises, and wrap up pretty smoothly where some other bumps in the road could have added interest. A few issues that did arise and could have added emotional weight disappeared without real impact. But the characters are warmly portrayed, without being over-dramatized. A comfort-read type book, with a few hints at more emotional stories to come (and in fact I liked the second book even better.)
Profile Image for Gustaf.
1,413 reviews126 followers
February 26, 2021
I'm a sucker for cowboys okay? But something felt quite off in this one. The pacing I think. First it's slow, slow, slow and then boom they are doing a friends with benefits thing until maybe the 90% mark where Nate decides and I quote "I'm keeping him". Things happened too slow and then too fast for me to really feel the love between Nate and Jay.

I liked both Nate and Jay as MC's. I liked the Crooked Tree Ranch and the side characters. And I'm probably going to come back to this series when I don't have anything better to read or listen to.
May 13, 2017
2.5 stars because this story wasn't only about the MCs but about their siblings and children. It's ridiculous when an author writes a romance novel but makes not one but several secondary characters overly present in the story. It takes away from the development of the romance developing between the two main characters.

I will give the next book a try. If the same nonsense goes on in that book, I will give up on the series all together and maybe even author.
Profile Image for Aղցela W..
3,884 reviews264 followers
January 25, 2019
This was a pretty good read that I liked. Jay Sullivan answers an ad for a business manager with an expertise in marketing, on a dude ranch in Montana. With his sister and his niece and nephew they leave NY behind. Nathaniel 'Nate' Todd has been running the dude ranch, for five years ever since his mentor Marcus Allen became ill he is a former rodeo star and part owner of the ranch along with his two brother Gabe and Luke. Nate and Jay didn't exactly hit it off when Jay first got to the ranch Nate ran him over with his horse and broke his phone. This was a story with two families blending together the book also had some funny scenes in it. We also get to see a relationship between Nate's brother Gabe and Jay's sister Ashley which was nice. This was a good read this book was well written with no errors in grammar or spelling I am looking forward to reading the next book in this series.
Profile Image for Karen.
1,859 reviews85 followers
February 27, 2018
4.5 stars rounded down to 4 because still no 1/2 stars here on GR. I really, really liked this one...what was I thinking waiting so long to enjoy this story....audio book #2 is happening soon and so is my full review on this one...but, I have a Buddy Read to get to right now so...later ya' all!

With his advertising career coming to an abrupt end, Jay finds that he suddenly needs a way to support not just himself but his sister and her two children. The Crooked Tree Ranch needs saving. Nate's been running things since his mentor Marcus Allen became ill five years ago but if something doesn't give soon things are going to go from bad to worse.

When Jay first sees the add for someone to manage the business end of the dude ranch he's less than enthusiastic but the more he thinks about it, the more he begins to think this might be just the thing for him, his sister and her kids. A fresh start in a new place. What he wasn't looking for was a new man but Nate pushes all his buttons and resist as they might both men soon realize that there's an attraction that neither of them know how to fight, but neither are they sure that they want anything either. So maybe friends with benefits?

'Crooked Tree Ranch' is the beginning of this series and along with giving Jay and Nate's story we're given the a whole lot of secondary characters and background as well as an overall story line that will thread it's way through the series...it's a bit of a thriller mystery that this series will continue to build on.

Sean Crisden has once again added depth and uniqueness to the voices in this audiobook making this story all the more enjoyable for me as I was drawn into events by his easy cowboy drawl and needless to say I'm more than ready to get into the next book in this series. I really don't know why I've waited so long to get into this series but I'm glad I haven't waited any longer.
Profile Image for Nic.
Author 35 books347 followers
December 4, 2013
Yippee - A new series!

Available for pre-order 1 November (15 Nov release Total-e-Bound)

Crooked Tree Ranch is the first book in the new Montana series by R.J. Scott. Those of you who read my reviews regularly will know that I have a definite soft-spot for R.J. She's one of those authors who's on my must-read list and I have yet to be disappointed. I love her characters and I love the stories and I adore the way she builds a series. Without fail I get emotionally invested in the characters and love to see them appear in subsequent books.

This series is a winner because of it's cowboy theme - who can resist a gorgeous cowboy! "Nate was a cowboy, all yee-haw and camp fires and macho crap. It was unlikely there would be any Brokeback action anywhere near Crooked Tree." How wrong Jay was!

This book had a nice contrast with city-boy Jay and country-boy Nate. Most of the story takes place on the ranch but we spend a bit of time in New York when we first meet Jay. Jay is a marketing executive who is retrenched and circumstances lead him to taking a job on the ranch owned by Nate and his brothers.

It may be financial pressures that prompt Jay to look beyond New York for a job, forced to widen his net when he can't get a job, but it is his love of family and his desire to provide for his sister and her children that results in the big decision to relocate.

As in most R.J. Scott books, there is a strong family theme. In this case, we have a focus on two families, where the brother has taken on a role as head of the family. Firstly there is Jay's family, where Jay takes a role supporting his sister who had been abused in the past and acts as a father figure to her kids. There is also Nate's family, where Nate had been the head of the household since his parents were killed when he was eighteen. Most of his decisions have been based on keeping the ranch running for his younger brothers. Both our main characters put their family first and are supportive and protective.

Nate hasn't really had a relationship beyond a one night stand and Jay's last relationship was a disaster with a selfish, two-timing boyfriend.

On one hand I loved the slow development of the relationship between Nate and Jay, particularly Nate's desire to take his time and not treat Jay as a one-night stand. But on the other hand I wanted them to get together faster! I think it was midway through the book before there was any substantial action.

Not a huge amount of drama but a nice start to what promises to be a great series. I can already sense (or hope) that we will get a book about
the missing Justin (son of Marcus who lives on the ranch), or maybe his brother Ethan the cop, and definitely Sam the chef.

The second and third books are due in July and September next year - something to definitely look forward to!

Thanks so much to R.J. who provided a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

I publish all my m/m reviews on my blog so if you want to see all my m/m reviews in one place come visit at Because Two Men Are Better Than One!

Profile Image for Lily.
1,172 reviews11 followers
November 16, 2013
3.3 stars. It was good to see a nice cowboy read since I have not come across one for quite some time; quite well portrayed characters, an interesting universe but a too rushed romance... The protagonists' relationship was developing at a reasonable pace with some tension and revealing banter, when suddenly the super fast-forward button was pushed - they fell in love, most problems were solved and the story ended. I fail to understand why a few more pages could not be added to properly present the climax and ending, when the introduction and bulk of the plot were nicely laid out...

And it was not clear to me who had the final say on ranch business - were they all equal partners? Had Nate and his brothers (or their parents) invested more financially and by offering land? There was a character (Marcus) whom I did not like at all.

Perhaps the situation will be clarified and explored more thoroughly in the next instalment.
Profile Image for Debra.
2,001 reviews231 followers
May 30, 2014
3.5 stars

Good start to the series. This was a real slow build with a good mix of humor and family drama. NYC transplant Jay is a bit of a fish out of water on the ranch, but he knows just how to bait Montana rancher Nate. Their chemistry was good and so were all the family interactions. My only minor issues were some editing problems and that it was such a build up before Nate and Jay got together, that things seemed a bit rushed once it happened.

I'm intrigued by Ethan and the missing boys' story that was set up, and there were a few storylines set up that haven't fully played out yet. I'm looking forward to reading the next one.
Profile Image for Wax.
1,295 reviews21 followers
November 9, 2017
Sweet story about a city boy who gets a job on a ranch and falls for the ranch owner. I thought overall the story seemed too pat...like there is someone for everyone. And not enough is done to really shed light on the background into why there are issues on the ranch.
Profile Image for Ula'ndi Hart.
904 reviews15 followers
August 1, 2017
Overall book rating: 3.5
Audio Book: N/A
Book Cover: 3

I liked the characters and I was in the mood for fluffy with little to no drama. This did the trick.
I'd like to see what the story with the missing boys are in future.

PS. I'm happy to not have to read Ashley's 'story'
Profile Image for Jennifer☠Pher☠.
2,727 reviews230 followers
June 24, 2020
I have gone back and forth with this. Should I just say it wasn’t for me or should I go ahead and post this massive review? I think I even lost some sleep over it. I think, for my peace of mind, I need to get this off my chest.

This is going to be really, really bad.

So, I’m a pretty positive person. I pretty much always have the best outlook, even when times are grim. This, I’m afraid, might not work when reading. I always keep going with hope that the book will improve. That it will get better.

This book did not get better. What this book did was get worse. Instead of hoping, I should have just quit. Had I stopped reading, this would have maybe been a two or three star read, probably two but the fact that I finished and it got worse the longer I read might be a little unfair to the book. That’s my fault I guess. I should have quit and because I didn’t this gets as low of a rating as I can give it.

I pretty much hated it. No, I did hate it. I hate how long it took me to read. I hate that I have to write an ugly review and more than anything, I hate that the next book looks like a mystery and I didn’t even realize that this series was going to have a mystery running through it. More on that in a bit. Bottom line though, I knew it was bad, everything can’t be good and I should have just DNF’d this.

Right now though, I don’t feel optimistic and positive. I feel bad and I hate feeling bad. This might be one of the worst books I’ve ever read and although I sometimes find myself out on this island alone (as I am sure you guys have also felt before, that whole did we read the same book kind of feeling) with this one, I’m a little shocked to be here alone.

THERE WASN’T A SINGLE CONVERSATION IN THIS BOOK. No one asked a single question although they had a million questions because they told the reader they had a million questions but instead of asking they would rather sit in silence. Every single time there should have been a conversation or a million questions asked there was this weird ‘I’ll shelve that for later’ type of thought. Every single time. Even between the siblings. They were just “never ready”.

This is in the very beginning in reference to all the suppliers turning down orders because they haven’t been paid. What??

“He kept meaning to talk to Marcus about it, but never quite got around to it.” or “He’d talk to Marcus as soon as he could.”

This is the very beginning and is a theme through the entire book with everyone. No one talks. There were so many inner thoughts like ‘I want to know everything about him but now is not the right time to ask’ and it made no sense. Even with the kids and I don’t think you are supposed to do that with kids. I think you are supposed to address the issue or behavior. There was one part where the Sister, I felt, needed a firm conversation and Jay was like, he knew conversations like this were better in the morning. I don’t even know what that means? But guys, all these missed conversations. All these missed questions never happened.

There were like three romances going on and really, none of them were romances. It’s like there are three brothers and there are three members of the new family, let’s all hook up with each other.

I won’t even get into one of those romances being with the sister who truthfully seemed to really need some help and that help not being a new man. Sounds to me like she needed NO MAN. She needed to learn how to be a parent and get a hold of herself. She needed to learn how to be a woman, an example. I am so disturbed by her part in this book and her behavior. And I don’t know any parent that would be pushing their daughter into a relationship when she obviously is having huge behavior issues. Or wait, who would be pushing their daughter into a relationship at all. She pretty much bakes and let’s her younger brother parent her children. One of which is out of control and the other who is showing signs of learning issues. No, instead, let’s chase the first new man we see when we get off the airplane still covered in bruises from the last man.

Who I guess was the main couple of this book, did not talk. Never seemed to like each other, even when they were “together” and then, BOOM, they were in love. The whole bar night out was not romantic and how it all went down was not hot. The date night was awkward with more ‘I just won’t bring it up now, we can talk about it later’ bullshit.

I’m sorry but the only thing I cared even the tiniest bit about in this book was the mystery, which I didn’t even realize was a thing because, although something mysterious was mentioned in this book, nothing more was really said because, you guessed it, the conversation was just too difficult and better shelved for another time. Really, until I finished the book and saw that the next book kind of revolved around this mysterious something that was briefly mentioned, I realized this series I guess is part mystery. And full honesty, this pisses me off because I don’t want to read more of this series but NOW I would like to know what happened!

My God, I wanted a Cowboy romance like I wanted my next breath. This, I don’t even know what this was except that it was not good.
Profile Image for Dani Elle Maas.
903 reviews13 followers
November 16, 2013
4.5 stars!

Being a big fan of this genre and of the author Mrs R.J. Scott, I was extremely excited to have the chance to review this first book in a new series by this author.

In this story we meet Jay, a marketing guy who loses his job during a big layoff due to re-organisation.

As he is responsible for his family and providing for them, he needs to find a way to get a new job fast. His family consists of him, his sister Ashley and her two children, Kirsten and Josh.

Turning down a job offer set up by his former cheating, selfish, lover, he decides to pack up his stuff and his family and move to a ranch in Montana after accepting a job on The Crooked Tree Ranch (hence the title of this book). His job is to make the ranch profitable again by advertising, webpages etc.

At the ranch we have three brothers who share ownership. Luke, the youngest, is still in school getting ready to go to college. Gabe the middle brother is good with numbers and fixing things and Nate is a former bull rider who’s in charge of the horses and the day to day business.

When Jay and Nate meet for the first time, it is unexpected and highly strained yet you notice the observations they make about each other. Where Gabe seems to fall for Jay’s sister Ashley, Jay and Nate find their way towards each other slowly but steadily.

During the story we read and hear about family issues such as domestic abuse (Ashley by her ex-husband) and Gothic teenage rebellion ending in acceptance and opening up (through Kirsten). There is also youthful play, honest enthusiasm and normal child behaviour ( through Josh) as well as the fatherly influence and protectiveness (through Marcus and Sophia). All written very well, detailed and explainable.

Together both family’s find a way to make the ranch work better.

A few little things that came to mind. It takes quite a long time for Jay and Nate to meet and come together (as the same for the families) at the ranch. This didn’t disturb me as it is the first part in this series and I liked the details that were added in building this story. It is something that needs to be mentioned as it can be found to be distracting.

One thing that is very likable is the connection between not only the main characters but also the families. A thing Mrs. Scott is very capable of doing I can say from experience. Besides the main characters Jay and Nate you also feel the moments between Gabe and Ashley and even the youngsters Luke, Kirsten and Little Josh.

The only character/ person I had trouble with was Marcus. He confused me and left me not knowing what to think of him. One side he’s the kind of father figure to the boys but on the other side keeping secrets out of protectiveness or control and making his own rules leaves you with the feeling he had more control over the ranch than the brothers.

I am very happy to know there will be more coming in this new series and I’m very curious of what the author will provide us readers with. Will we get to see more Nate and Jay? Will Luke fall for Kirsten or go of to college or perhaps even the question if there is more to him than meets the eye? Or will ranch cook Sam, openly and proud gay, find his match?

Just to name a few things that I can come up with, thinking about new books that will be coming.

Summing this story up with one word? That would be Family.

Danielle rates it – 4.5 Stars

Review posted at :http://sidlove.com/2013/11/15/pre-rel...

Profile Image for Caipi.
979 reviews33 followers
June 5, 2018
On the first pages I thought, this is going to be a great book! I enjoyed the characters and the writing style.
Unfortunately, it didn't take long and the book started to drag, leaving me dissatisfied and finally bored. :(
Although there were so many interesting characters!
Jay Sullivan, working in marketing, a great guy, who lives with his sister Ashley and her kids Kirsten and Josh to take care of them. Family has his highest priority, something his cheating ex didn't understand!
Ashley, a loving mum, but always falling for the wrong men, depressed, abused by her husband who is currently in jail.
Kirsten, a typical fifteen years old, somehow lost, sullen and rebellious.
Josh, the six year old sunshine of the family, showing the first signs of dyslexia.
Nate Todd, ex rodeo star and now foreman of the Crooked Tree Ranch, is living with his two younger brothers, Gabe, early twenties, and Luke, sixteen. As the only adult one of the three when their parents died years ago, he has thrown himself into his work in order to support the family. The three own together a third of the dude ranch. Having dyslexia, Nate is doing all the work with the horses and cabins and leaves the paperwork to Marcus, owner of another third of the ranch and Nate's mentor.

One day, Nate has to face the fact that the ranch is struggling. Marcus, depressed after one of his sons disappeared, didn't have the strength to keep the paperwork and finances in order. The number of guests were going down, marketing and social media seemed to be foreign words. So the three brothers decide together with Marcus that they need help....

After the redundancy from his job in NYC, it's difficult for Jay to find a new job in the city. When browsing through the internet, Jay finds per chance an add from the Crooked Tree Ranch in Montana, searching for a business manager with an expertise in marketing. So the family decides to move to Montana and try a new start.....

The perfect setting for an interesting read. Unfortunately there wasn't much depth to the story. All the characters and problems were only scratched on the surface and still I felt like the romance between Jay and Nate didn't get enough focus.

Not sure yet if I'll give book 2 a chance.
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