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Welcome to Clean Slate Ranch: home of tight jeans, cowboy boots, and rough trails. For some men, it's a fantasy come true.

Mack Garrett loves the rolling hills surrounding his Northern California dude ranch. Leading vacationers on horse trails with his two best friends is enough - romance is definitely not in the cards. When a sexy tourist shows up at Clean Slate, he's as far from Mack's type as can be. So why is the handsome city slicker so far under his skin in less than a day?

Roughing it in the middle of nowhere isn't anywhere near Wes Bentley's idea of fun. Then he lays eyes on the gruffest, hottest papa bear he's ever seen. But Mack is as hard to pin down as he looks - distant, sharp-tongued, and in desperate need of a shave. Until a campout gone wrong strands both men in the mountains with nothing to do but get to know each other.

Mack intends to keep his closely guarded heart out of Wes' very talented hands. But for a seven-day cowboy, Wes is packing some long-term possibility. The cold country air can do wonders for bringing bodies together - but it will take more than that to bridge the distance between two men whose lives are worlds apart.

This title is part of the Carina Press Romance Promise: all the romance you're looking for with an HEA/HFN. It's a promise!

This book is approximately 90,000 words
Carina Press acknowledges the editorial services of Alissa Davis
©2017 A. M. Arthur (P)2017 Harlequin Enterprises, Limited.

Length: 10 hrs
Narrated by: Greg Boudreaux

10 pages, Audible Audio

First published December 11, 2017

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About the author

A.M. Arthur

77 books1,150 followers
No stranger to the writing world, A.M. Arthur has been creating stories in her head since she was a child and scribbling them down nearly as long. She credits an early fascination with male friendships (bromance wasn't a thing yet) with her later discovery of and subsequent affair with m/m romance stories. When not writing, she can be found in her kitchen, pretending she's an amateur chef and trying to not poison herself or others with her cuisine experiments. You can contact her at AM_Arthur(at)yahoo(dot)com

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 232 reviews
Profile Image for ~Mindy Lynn~.
1,396 reviews580 followers
March 1, 2018
3.5-4 Stars!

Wes Bentley is a struggling actor who once had a role on a western show. On that show he and the MC Drake had a secret relationship. When Wes decided he was tired of being a secret, Drake dumped him and got him fired from the show. After that something scandalous happened that got Wes blackballed out of Hollywood. Now he's doing shows at a dinner theater, but still has hopes of making it big. But he's pretty happy with his life. He's got good friends and an amazing younger sister who is getting ready to marry a great guy. His sister asked him to plan her wedding and to be her best person. So when Wes brings up wanting to throw her a bridal shower she flips the script on him and tells him she'd rather visit a dude ranch. She has always wanted to and thinks this would be a lot better than a bridal shower. She got major points from me for doing something different. Wes isn't as excited to spend his time around smelly horses nor is he a fan of dirt. But his baby sister is his best friend and he's willing to do anything for her. Even spend a whole week on the dude ranch. Plus, there's cowboys. And one just happens to catch Wes's eye.

Mack Garrett left the LA life behind when tragedy struck including his job working for S.W.A.T.. Now he lives on the Clean Slate Ranch (the dude ranch) helping his granddad run it. It's a bit ironic that Mack is in charge dealing with guests when he isn't much of a people person. He has the grumpy bear look down with his constant squint and frown. His friends have been on him to go out and hook-up and have some fun. He isn't looking for another relationship considering how his last one left him devastated and for good reasons. But then he see's Wes. This guy pushes all of the right buttons for Mack. The attraction is mutual even if Mack is fighting it.

Wes is confused if all his flirting is hitting it's marks with Mack because the man is so hard to read. But that doesn't deter Wes. He is just wanting a vacation fling since he is still smarting from his past relationship as well. Plus there is the fact that Mack isn't a fan of actor's since that was what his ex was. Mack finally gives in and agrees to meet up with Wes for some vacation fun. Neither expected that after only a week together that they would catch feelings for one another. When it's time to say goodbye Wes is sad and then disappointed when Mack ignores him and gives him the cold shoulder and won't ever meet his eyes as they load up. Mack of course regrets this too late and is desperate to apologize. Only they didn't exchange numbers. So he tries to do it through an email they have on file for Wes only for it to go unanswered. But his friend and Wes's sister take things into their own hands and the fella's get reacquainted. From here their relationship blossoms.

This was low on angst and drama. Well between the two MC's at least. There was plenty of other drama going on around them.

The only things that really bothered with this story was the length of it and that there more then one spot where it dragged. I feel like if it was shortened the dragging wouldn't have happened.

In the end I really enjoyed the story and look forward to all of the SC stories.

Happy reading dolls! xx

Profile Image for Nazanin.
1,037 reviews587 followers
December 6, 2017
3 "Grumpy Bear Cowboy" Stars

It’s Wes’s sister’s wedding and he hired a ranch for a week (before wedding). Wes is an actor. He was a successful one till his ex (who was an actor too) blame him for something that Wes didn’t do it deliberately and then his career wasn’t like before anymore.
Mack works in his grandfather’s ranch, he’s almost in charge of everything. He had a bad relationship. His ex was an actor and he shattered Mack’s heart, badly. After that Mach couldn’t trust anyone and see himself in a relationship anymore. He drawn himself in his work. Till Wes came to the ranch. Wes got under his skin and let’s don’t forget Wes’s insistence in flirting with him. And Mack couldn’t prevent himself to not attract to this cute boy!

Well, it was a good read but not the great one. This was my first read by this author and I liked it to be really good but still… my problem was its pace, it was really slow for my taste and really this Boss/Daddy thing didn’t work for me (whereas they have just three years age difference)!

Told in dual POV, 3rd person. It’s the first installment in the "Clean Slate Ranch" series but it can be read as a standalone. I had good moments and I hope you enjoy it!

Thanks to A.M. Arthur, Netgalley and Carina Press for the advanced digital copy in exchange an honest review.
Profile Image for Erth.
3,373 reviews
August 26, 2019
I love A.M. Arthur and do what I can to read every new tome by her, but this one sort of snuck up on me and I gave it a bit of a shrug when I started it. But then the characters caught me and even though I figured out early on what the eventual mystery would be, I really couldn't put it down.

Mack and Wes are perfectly drawn (even on the cover) and their mutual attraction--and eventual attachment--was reasonable and excruciatingly exciting. You could see other characters in the series emerge as potential MCs, but this one was deeply focused on a reluctance by both men to get involved because of the heartbreak each had suffered separately about five year before.

When their love becomes obvious, they are both terrified as to how it's not likely to last, and each makes a serious mistake in judgment which prolongs their agony.

What is totally unexpected, however, is the betrayal resulting from an off-handed comment by a minor character who will eventually become an MC in a sequel. This sends the plot spinning and opens the way for serious conflicts which can only be overcome by deep and true love.
Profile Image for Heather K (dentist in my spare time).
3,830 reviews5,501 followers
January 3, 2018
I didn't really like this one, though others seem to have enjoyed it. Maybe cowboy romances are just not for me?

Wild Trail felt looooong, like really long, and almost from the start I knew it wouldn't be a good fit. I get that we have to meet the characters, but there was SO much backstory and SO much telling vs showing. It was like, indroduce a character: cue depressing, semi-mysterious backstory, and this repeated over and over again!

I also don't like it when a series pushes the matches for the next in the series all throughout the previous book. There was too much set up for the next few books, and I found it to be distracting.

I also found the relationship between the two MCs to be mostly sexual and not really emotional. I didn't feel that romantic chemistry between the two of them.

I don't have a great track record with cowboy romance, so maybe it's just the genre, but I found this one to be slow-paced and not really to my tastes.

*Copy provided in exchange for an honest review*
March 30, 2019
Audio - 5+++ stars
Story - 3.75 stars

The story felt loooonnggg. If not for the audio, I might have rated it lower.

The MCs were likeable, and I loved Wes' relentless flirting with Mack, until Mack couldn't resist and gave in to him. Something about the ending felt dissatisfying though. I think it's because Mack and Wes' relationship was a long distance one for almost the entire book, and it wasn't until the epilogue that they decide to live together.

Hopefully, there are updates about their relationship in the other books.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Martin.
738 reviews392 followers
August 30, 2018
This was truly fascinating.

I was surprised to find that the story wrapped up very nicely and left me with a deeply satisfied feeling.

I totally admit that my main problem with this author is the many plot layers. It’s like there is just too much happening – and each dramatic climax gets topped by something even more outrageous.

Almost like a Desperate Housewives episode.

I love characters with complex back stories, but sometimes enough is just enough. No need to heap more and more drama on a guy who is out there to find love.

What I loved about the story is the difference between our heroes, though:


Mack is a butch cowboy. A former cop from L.A., he left everything behind (after a dramatic event in his past) and moved to his grandfather’s dude ranch in North California where he teaches spoiled city brats how to ride and enjoy nature under the stars.


Wes *is* one of city brats who visit Mack’s ranch as a best man’s present to Wes’ sister who is about to get married and asked Wes to organize the wedding. Wes is an actor who hasn’t made it big (yet) and is working mainly in dinner theater in San Fran. When he runs into handsome cowboy Mack, he is determined to get some holiday action with the mysteriously rugged man and starts his flirt attack – convinced he’ll get down and dirty with brooding Mack before their week on the ranch is over.

What both guys don't expect is developing feelings for each other. Of course. It’s a romance, after all.

This is just the basic outline of the story. There’s also a remote ghost town, a conspiracy that threatens our guys’ lives and several friends whose stories is given lots of room, as they will be the MCs in the subsequent books.

What I’m trying to say in the politest way possible: It dragged a bit.

I liked the story a lot and I loved how things developed for Wes and Mack, but I think it would have been nice to cut parts of the story and move them to the other books where they belong.

Giving space to so many other characters prevented Mack and Wes from reaching their full potential on page. So even though I liked the story a lot, it could have been really spectacular if we had dived deeper into Wes’ and Mack’s heads and explored their stories in more detail.

BUT I am adding a half star for bringing a hairy daddy character to life! These are far too rare in m/m!

4 stars!
Profile Image for Cadiva.
3,225 reviews291 followers
August 21, 2019

There's lots of bits in this book which are great but there's also parts which didn't work as well for me so overall it was a good but not great read.

Things that worked: The setting, loved the ranch and the vibe of the people there and the descriptions and the ghost town and the mystery. I liked the majority of the romance between Mack and Wes too.

Things that didn't work: The 'boss/daddy" references. None of their sexual encounters felt even remotely daddy and boy to me, neither was there really any sign of a master/slave element to warrant the boss nickname, the odd way Mack's ex's came up.

Also Colt's big reveal felt chucked in to create drama rather than a natural element which sat well within the narrative.

But, having said all of the above, there are more positives than not and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series and seeing what all the not very subtle hints turn into for Reyes, Colt, Miles and Aubrey.

#ARC received from Carina Press via NetGalley.
Profile Image for Denise H..
2,893 reviews201 followers
May 19, 2018
**** Ranch, romance, reunion, revelation !****
There is a lot happening here, so I'll begin with Mack, ex-SWAT cop, 34, working at his Family dude ranch, and horse rescue center, run by his Granddad, 78, Arthur Garrett.
Mack is a big, "bear" with brown eyes, scruff and is all sexy cowboy

He loved the peace and quiet after his lover's death in L.A. His best friends, "brothers" are also there to escape painful pasts.
Wes , 31, is his sister's "Best Person" for her wedding,

and he set up the week at the ranch for a pre-wedding getaway for the bridal party. Wes is slim, tall, toned, with white-blonde hair and big blue eyes; an actor at a San Fran theater where Miles is a cook.

The groom and his brother, plus Wes's best friend and roomy, Miles are included. We get a feel for the big spread and how the dude ranch is operated. We meet the other 7 people at the ranch this week, and before they reach the ranch, the two college students are throwing racial slurs at the groom and his brother, black men, Conrad and Derrick, plus neon shirted Wes. They are quickly put in their place.

So, the experience begins with riding lessons, a hike, camping, swimming, and meals, and throughout all of that we learn about the varied guests, and fascinating staff as the week passes. Lots of pics taken and memories made for all. When Wes's horse spooks and runs, Mack finds him, and a huge discovery. Wes's injury requires a trip to the town doc.

New ranch plans hatch and there is a short mystery concerning the new discovery and vandalism.
Mack and Wes really hit it off in a slow burn romance. It may have begun with hot sex, but deep feelings and more meaningful long talks, intense sharing, and even more sizzling sex engulfs them. We watch our couple grow as friends and see the love ignite and take over.

After the week ends there are a few weeks of adjustment, but neither man can be without the other. Mack needs Wes to ground him, and Wes needs Mack as his missing puzzle piece that makes him whole. ( I didn't understand the use of "daddy," but I liked "boss.") Other than that we get grownups, adult conversations, and thoughts.
Deep characters all around, each with a tale to tell; lots of action, nice information on the ranch, plus a surprising violent gunfight.

I liked the slow flow, with flourishing details, anticipation and sexiness. There was the comfort of friends and family, which was lovely.

We are satisfied with the epilogue, but still have unanswered questions. The next book is "Roped In", but in no way was this a cliffhanger, no.
It's a complete story and very entertaining.
Highly recommended. ENJOY !

Thank you sweet Hadis for the rec !

Profile Image for ⚣Michaelle⚣.
3,672 reviews202 followers
May 25, 2020
Audio Review 25May2020: 4 Stars

LOVED Greg's narration, and maybe it's because I went to the last day that Bonnie Springs Ranch was open here last year but the parts about opening a previously abandoned "ghost town" for tourists with shows and shops...well, that made me nostalgic.

Original Review 09Dec2017: 3.8 Stars

A promising start to a new series, one that I have a feeling will have more interesting tales than this one. That's not to say Wild Trail wasn't fun, sexy and interesting...just that I think having to introduce so many players - who will appear in their own subsequent books - overwhelmed the story a bit.

(Not summarizing the plot because that blurb is spot on.)

I absolutely loved that these guys actually talked. They discussed sexual limits very early on (yay!) and expectations. Eventually they were able to divulge private, heart-breaking info that definitely shaped how they saw relationships. No, they weren't always forthcoming about everything but they did communicate better than half the stories I've read recently, and the drama here was almost all external. (The original separation was less about miscommunication and more about not wanting to extend their feelings and risk getting hurt.) That they tried to be emotionally supportive was also a nice touch.

Unfortunately, the way the story unfolded made that middle section drag a bit. I'm not sure if there was any way to re-structure the tale to have everything happen while still at the ranch, but having Wes go home definitely slowed the pacing. Too often one or the other had to drive almost an hour to visit. Although, without the separation Mack wouldn't get a chance to see Wes on stage (as written here) and his recognition of Wes' talent is important...as was stretching out the romance to span weeks so that their HFN felt realistic.

For some the nick-names might be off-putting but holy cow did I love Wes calling Mack "daddy" during the sexy times! Also, something about Mack calling Wes "boss" was endearing. It didn't always happen while they were intimate either; at first it almost seemed sarcastic, but once you know the characters it actually fits how Mack sees Wes - kind of like he's the "boss" of Mack's heart. I also loved that Mack was a bit of a bear, but that cover (while HOT) doesn't do the hairy chest mentioned in the text any justice at all.

The "mystery" itself was a bit boring (if I'm being honest) but an extremely dramatic moment seemed necessary for Mack to start forgiving Colt and what better way than an old-west shootout & arson?! While I didn't precisely know the doers, it was pretty easy to figure out why they wanted the land. Of course, if there was still .

I do have to say that I am looking forward to other books; Miles & Reyes seems like it will be the most angsty. I have a feeling something awful happened to Miles on his birthday and while I wish Wes had been a better friend and actually asked him what was going on (rather than observing Miles' distant, withdrawn behavior & saying he'd get to it later, only he never did) I guess that drama has to be saved for his book. Colt & Avery seems like it will have some BDSM elements, and I'm looking forward to seeing how that dynamic plays out. Something tells me the big, burly, butch ex-SWAT officer might be a sub and that is just delicious. (Gawd, I hope I'm right!)

ARC provided via Netgalley and Carina Press in exchange for honest review.
Profile Image for Alisa.
1,758 reviews177 followers
December 22, 2017
This started so strong. The story takes place on a dude ranch where people come to take Western themed vacations. Wes has set this up for his best friend's wedding party. When they arrive he is immediately attracted to gruff cowboy Mack. There was a slow burn between the two and the first half of the story took the time to build up their budding relationship. I was really enjoying it and even thought at one point that it was really cool that the author was going to skip her trademark OTT drama for once.

I spoke too soon. Around 60% drama ensues and it really ruined the book for me. It was unnecessary in my opinion. I also didn't really understand the "daddy/boy" parts. It felt like it came from left field and didn't fit in the story at all.

Overall this was good but not great. I might read the next in the series. I'm a bit bummed because this book had the potential to be excellent and then fell flat.

**ARC provided through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review**
Profile Image for Steven.
1,047 reviews384 followers
November 13, 2017
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

The story of two guys trying to overcome their painful pasts and find love is nothing new, but A.M. Arthur certainly put a fun spin on this tale. Cowboys are hot, you know. Yowza. This one has everything a cowboy fan would love -- ghost towns, horses, ranches, rugged manly cowboys, and fun fun fun.

Mack seriously pushed every single one of my naughty buttons. I think I'm in love. Wes is cute enough, but I'm jealous. I want Mack all for myself!

I'll definitely be on the lookout for Clean Slate Ranch #2 (Colt's story) and Clean Slate Ranch #3 (Reyes' story). :)
Profile Image for Chris.
2,066 reviews
May 20, 2018
3.5 cowboy stars. There was a lot to like about this book. Time was given to develop the characters and their romance and the next few books were really set up for Colt, Avery,Miles & Reyes. There was plenty going on and yes it did drag in parts but it was enjoyable all the same. I quite enjoyed the lower angst and loved the dynamic of Mack & Wes.
Profile Image for Trio.
2,900 reviews171 followers
October 5, 2018
So freakin' fantastic... and the only thing that can make this sexy cowboy story even better? Greg Boudreaux reading it to me!

I love the whole premise of this story - the rough SWAT team cops with tortured pasts finding love... wonderful. And when you add in the ghost town and everything that goes with it? I'm so happy!

Already got Roped In loaded on my MP3 player, ready to go :)
Profile Image for Simply Love Book Reviews.
6,891 reviews818 followers
December 11, 2017

4.5 stars

I have heard so much about A. M. Arthur that I knew that I had to read her at some point in time. I am happy that I finally did get to read and review her and know that I will definitely keep reading her.

Wild Trail was an interesting and fun read. Mack and Wes were fascinating. One protecting his heart and brooding around the ranch. The other as flamboyant as a man can get. But, they complimented each other. As they say, opposites do attract.

Mack’s version of a date was a night at a bar, pick up a guy, have a quickie in the men’s room, the darkened hall or a back alley. He wasn’t looking for or wanted any kind of a relationship. He may be “out” but he doesn’t openly flaunt it. He’s happy on the ranch with his friends and grandfather and doesn’t need the complication of a fling with one of the guests. But, he can’t help but be drawn to Wes … there is something about him that he can’t deny. His past has made sure that he’ll never give his heart away again but there may be nothing wrong with having that vacation fling.

Wes is as flashy as a gay man can get. He’s out and proud. He’s in no way a cowboy but he will do whatever his sister wants and, if she want’s a week at Clean Slate Ranch instead of a bridal shower, that’s what she’ll get. If he gets to ogle hot cowboys in tight jeans, he’s all in for that too. But, there s one that has his attention from the minute the wagon pulled up to take them to the ranch. Now, all he needs to do is figure out how to get him to pay attention to him, talk to him maybe … well, you know. He knows that he can never trust his heart again so a little fun with a hot cowboy for a week will have to do.

It takes an overnight camping trip, a runaway horse and a ghost town to finally get them to know the other. What happens next was totally unexpected and fun.

A.M. Author wrote a wonderful story that was filled with a little mystery and a whole lot of love. All her secondary characters were just as interesting as Mack and Wes. She wrote this story in a way that we knew what the other was going through and feeling. The back-stories were so well written and intense that you understood why both Mack and Wes were fearing giving away their hearts. She made sure that we were rooting for them both. The story was humorous at times, serious at times and so very sexy.

Profile Image for Melissa.
1,208 reviews73 followers
October 21, 2017
A complimentary copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This was a cute story and also predictable. I pretty much knew how everything was going to play out from the start and while there were a few moments of surprise, the overall plot was not one of them.

Mack - a retired SWAT officer now turned cowboy - helps his grandfather run a sort of resort ranch. Mack's reasons for leaving the SWAT team and moving to the ranch are legitimate and I fully supported them.

Wes is an actor who was blacklisted in Hollywood when his former costar and lover was outed (everyone assumes it's Wes who told). Now he is playing different roles at a live dinner theater show roughly 40 miles from Mack's ranch.

The reason Wes (and his sister, her fiancé (and his brother, and his best friend), as well as Wes' friend/roommate) is at the ranch is because his sister didn't want a traditional party in celebration of her engagement. Wes is a city boy thru and thru, but he manages to hold his own pretty well on the ranch. And he is even more determined to ace the ranch experience because Wes sees Mack as the prize at the end.

Both men are attracted to each other, but Mack doesn't want to get involved with a guest, and Wes is determined to change his mind.

I found most of their byplay to be corny and obvious - and their kinks didn't work for me. Wes called Mack Daddy and Mack called Wes boss. Yeah, no. I didn't like that aspect of their relationship. There were also moments where they would feel insecure and doubt the other person's motives, wants, expectations. And then there were times blatant expressions of feelings and wants were forgotten and lead to moments of doubt and insecurity. Those types of inconsistencies really drive me crazy.

There were also times where certain parts of the story are told in great detail, and other times where what I felt to be very important elements were glossed over or told in summary after the fact.

Aside from the lack of mystery and suspense in the story, this was cute and enjoyable. The MCs did get on my nerves and I while their actions were somewhat juvenile and predictable, overall I liked them as people. It's obvious they care about each other and have found a way to make a relationship work for them.

As a side note Miles - Wes' friend and roommate - was obviously struggling with something thru the whole story and Wes would tell himself he would talk to Miles later, but he never did (or not on page). It's completely obvious something happened to Miles and it's not anything good.

This is book 1 of a series and there are going to be at least 3 books in all, or more. I don't want to say too much about Mack's friends who are on the ranch with him because a.) they weren't super big players here but did have key roles in spots, and b.) it's really complicated to go into their history and I can't reveal everything that happens. :) Let's just say Colt is into BDSM and Reyes had his eye on Miles the whole time the wedding party was visiting.

I am disappointed in this latest tale from A.M. Arthur, but I don't think this will stop me from reading the rest of the series. Miles really has me curious, and I want to see what happens with the Frontier Town Mack is renovating.

I have a feeling this story is going to be one of those love it or felt it was just ok (that's me). I didn't hate it but I can't say I highly recommend it either due to reasons stated above. If this is something you can pick up thru KU, or on sale or borrow from a friend, I would recommend that first. To those who adore AM Arthur's work (this is me too!) I don't know what to say. In my opinion this didn't live up to her previous titles and that may be because I listened to the audio versions and this will be my first "read" of her story. I feel like I rambling now so The End.
Profile Image for Eugenia.
1,556 reviews229 followers
April 19, 2020
My first AM Arthur book! I really enjoyed it, especially the narration by Greg Boudreaux...SEXY DRAWL!!

I’ll admit that I spaced off at times while listening, but I never felt lost 🙌

Both MCs are insecure due to past relationships and they need frequent and constant reassurance from each other—it got a little repetitive.

There’s is a mystery of sorts and I’m dumbfounded that it takes them so long to connect the dots.

Still.... HOT sex that played around with a superficial D/s dynamic between the beefy, grumpy cowboy and the sassy, dinner-theatre actor.

My rec? A great listen that you don’t have to concentrate on to get the story!
Profile Image for Don Bradshaw.
2,304 reviews93 followers
January 5, 2018
I am a sucker for cowboys and this book ticked a lot of my boxes. I enjoyed all of the sub-plots and much of the background story. Wes and Mack were great together though I kept picturing Mack as much older. The secondary characters were beautifully fleshed out and made the story so much more believable by just being there. The blurb pretty much says it all and the book fulfills its promise of being an entertaining read.
Profile Image for Wendy F.
890 reviews184 followers
December 19, 2017
Okay, here I go again – there is no way in hell the dude on the cover, leaning back against the wall, is Wes! Wes was described as tall, lean, with blonde hair so pale it was almost white, and wore loud and bright clothes. And Mack, if that is Mack, would never be standing outside -where guests could see him- with his shirt flapping open in the breeze. Does the design team even think of the book contents when they’re making these choices?? I don’t get it.

Ahem. Sorry for my rant. It’s just a pet peeve of mine. Anyway, now that I’ve gotten it out of my system let’s talk about the actual book.

I haven’t read a lot of cowboy romance novels. At this moment, without researching, I can only think of three. I noticed some of my Goodreads friends were giving Wild Trail pretty good reviews, and the setting of a Dude Ranch really piqued my interest. (Little Birdie fact, one that probably ages me, but when I was a little girl I was an enormous fan of a show called Hey Dude! on Nickelodeon. I’ve always wanted to vacation on a Dude Ranch.) I was confident Wild Trail was a decent bet, and I was right.

I liked how Wes and Mack didn’t jump into bed immediately. It took time for Wes to get beyond Mack’s walls and gruff exterior, and even once they were physical it still took a bit of time for both men to recognize it wasn’t just some vacation fling. They had genuine feelings for each other, and even though both were gun shy (that’s Dude Ranch lingo, obvi) after having been burned before they still mostly allowed those feelings to bloom.

I also enjoyed the friendship between Mack and his two best friends, Colt and Reyes. It was this friendship in particular that’s going to keep me coming back to the Clean Slate Ranch for more. I can already see where the next two books will go, for both Colt and Reyes, and I already know I want to read them.

(Side note here: is it mandatory for all cowboy or western themed novels to have a dude named Colt in them? Being a Michigander, perhaps I’m just not aware of the vast ocean of men named Colt West of the Mississippi.)

I also have to warn you, or anyone who may be interested in this read, Wild Trail wasn’t without flaws. Some of the twists in the story felt cliched. When you didn’t see them coming it was mostly because it was too obvious, too blatant. Also, the attraction between Wes and Mack felt more sexual than emotional. There are probably a lot of readers out there who love this, but I’m more into emotional intimacy than I am physical intimacy. There were times Wes and Mack were emotionally connected, but it was almost always overshadowed by the need to get physical.

Still, it was a fun book, a light read right when I needed one. Like eating a piece of ginger after spicy tuna rolls, it was a palate cleanser between my harder/deeper (pun TOTALLY intended) reads. I really enjoyed it.

Thank you to Carina Press for providing a free ARC in exchange for an honest review.

For this and other reviews, visit Wendy at Birdie Bookworm.
Profile Image for Lisa.
711 reviews
April 12, 2022
I really enjoy MM western romances and this one did not disappoint. At first it felt like it was starting out a little slow, but it soon picked up and later I appreciated the early foundation building. Wes, a small-venue actor, arrives with his sister and friends for a fun week at a guest ranch while beginning to plan his sister's wedding. Mack, a former SWAT agent, works at the ranch and the sparks fly immediately. Both men have been hurt in the past and are hesitant to act on such a strong attraction when they will be going their separate ways soon. Soon, they are wondering if they can just walk away from their powerful connection. This book has a mystery, some danger, strong emotions, and a HEA passionate love. Can't wait to read the next one.
Profile Image for Rachel Emily.
3,980 reviews259 followers
April 6, 2018
AH! I'm ashamed to say that with the holidays and everything going on, I had forgotten I had been approved for this story from NetGalley - thankfully, saw it when I went to the site recently and started it as soon as I could! And WOW, what a great new story in what promises to be a great series from AM Arthur!

This is definitely an opposites attract story, with lots of emotion, chemistry (WHOOOO Chemistry!), romance, some conflict and drama, and a HEA for our main couple with the exciting promise of future couples and new stories - just what a great story should have!

Mack, once a SWAT team officer, is now working at his grandfather's dude ranch, where they give the whole cowboy/western/dude ranch experiences to paying customers, which is how he meets Wes. Wes, once an up-and-coming actor who now performs for dinner theater, brings his sister and their friends to the dude ranch for a bridal party week. And WOOOO when Wes and Mack meet, it's instant chemistry and UST!

What I just LOVED about this story is that they have a bit of sexy build up - and they don't hook up within like the first 4 hours of meeting, but most of the story spends time during what happens after that 1 week together when Wes leaves the dude ranch. There are some bumps along the road and miscommunication when they're going from fling to relationship, but they WANT that relationship and figure out how to make it work. And I love that!

I love that they realize they want to make this fling the real deal, and then they are totally there for each other and committed to the relationship. And they just kinda fall in love, it just happened very organically for them I felt like. This is a long story, but I never felt bored or that it was wordy - it was these two very different people, with very complicated and emotional pasts, coming together and realizing that they could be it for each other.

I'm also super interested in the other characters! Miles, Wes' friend and roommate, totally has a story to tell, there's Reyes, and I CANNOT wait for Colt and Avery's story (sounds like it's gonna be another scorcher with their chemistry, too!). And I hope with the future stories we will get to see more of Wes and Mack make their HEA promises come true!

Also? Take note! This is pet name done right! Boss and Daddy - not overdone, not cheesy, but just kinda hot when they realize that they've totally come up with pet names for each other.

And finally - this is not affecting my rating obviously, but the copy I got from NetGalley had all sorts of wonky formatting - no scene separations, no line breaks between dialogue, and weird times where it was literally like 1 word on a line and then next line. Very jarring and at times hard to figure out who was talking or thinking. But I know that's a formatting issue with the ARC, not the final version.

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
Profile Image for Madigan Likes to Read.
747 reviews60 followers
September 6, 2022
This book has big New Series Energy (TM). That's not to say it's a bad book. In my mind it simply means that as the first book in the series, it is perhaps bearing more weight than it should as it tries to tell Mack and Wes' story while at the same time setting up so much of the action yet to come. This book is doing a lot.

As I related the details of the plot to friends while live reading, it became clear that this one is a little bananas. Yes, bad things happen to good people, but it's often unlikely that all the bad things will happen to one person, making this book feel a little (or a lot) OTT at times.

Mack worked in law enforcement in LA until a series of unfortunate and improbable events led him to walk away from everything. Wes, meanwhile, was a rising star in Hollywood before a very dramtique event forced him to hightail it to San Francisco. And while we know these two will come together in the end for an HEA, there was enough miscommunication and misunderstandings along the way that it became frustrating to read at times. Finally, the most impossible element here is Wes' discovery of a ghost town. This is a town on ranch property that was abandoned for unknown reasons over 100 years ago and has since (somehow!) been hidden from civilization. And Wes' horse just happens to walk right into it? Sure.

This first book sets up essential information we'll need to know going forward. Namely, Clean Slate Ranch and the ghost town. These two elements are central to each book in the series. And when we meet Mack and Wes, we also meet other cowboys working on the ranch alongside a few friends that are part of Wes' circle. Some of these men will be featured in books to come.

Is it a little bonkers? Yes. Did I find myself willing to just go with it? Also yes.

At the heart of it, the romance is sweet and Greg Boudreaux's narration is on point. Despite the wild ride (or perhaps because of it?), continuing the series is an absolute must.
Profile Image for Joyfully Jay.
7,292 reviews412 followers
December 11, 2017
A Joyfully Jay review.

4.5 stars

Wild Trail is the first book in A.M. Arthur’s new Clean Slate Ranch series and it is off to a great start. I am not always a big western fan, but I really loved this story and really enjoyed Mac and Wes together. They are a fun opposites attract pair, with the gruff and burly Mac paired with the flirty and feisty Wes. I enjoyed seeing these guys get to know one another during Wes’ time at the ranch, and I really appreciated that Arthur extends the story to show them building a real connection after it is over. It would have been easy (and all too common) to tie everything up after a week’s fling, but instead Arthur takes the relationship deeper and shows how these guys are able to make things work in real life once the trip is over. Their connection was romantic and sexy and we are left with things really solid between them.

The first part of the book focuses on the time on Clean Slate Ranch. I enjoyed seeing the little details about life on the ranch from both Mac’s perspective as an employee and Wes’ as a tourist. We get lots of great scenes of riding, camping, and the beautiful wilderness. The second part of the book focuses on the building of their relationship in the aftermath, as well as Mac’s new project that aims to bring more tourism into the town. I don’t want to get into too much detail because it is kind of a surprise, but it really sets up some nice directions for the series to go in the future and gives us a bit of suspense, as well as a more well rounded storyline.

Read Jay’s review in its entirety here.

Profile Image for Chelsea.
272 reviews46 followers
April 20, 2018
I loved everything but the nickname that Wes gives Mac. It just was a bit cringe to hear it, and I since I didn't like it I had to take a star off.

Other than that I love how this is a opposite attraction. A cowboy and a actor yes please. Listening to Wes and Mac being attracted to each other was unexpected to either men. However a summer fling that would last a couple week seemed like a great idea. Until of course feelings get involved.

the battle of attraction that Mac was trying to pretend that doesn't exist while Wes shows he is not a subtle person. Lucky they have some great side characters that were my favorite parts. Both men have people who know how damaged they are from past relationships. Are the voice of reason when both men are being stubborn. the fact it involved a ranch with some cowboys yes please.

the audio book was told by one guy, however I wasn't confused who was talking and his voice was smooth and easy to follow.

next book is Colt and his ex reconnecting and am so excited to get this to know more of Coles backstory. For since he's pretty much a joker in this book it's to cover up something and I can't wait to find out.
Profile Image for Calila.
1,155 reviews80 followers
December 15, 2017
*Received ARC via NetGalley*

I really enjoyed this book. The characters were great. I loved how gruff but marshmallowy Mack was. You could really feel the pull he had towards Wes. Wes was perfect for him. His lightness but not shallowness was exactly what Mack needed to pull him out of his grief. The side characters were all great, I loved the family aspect. Wes' sister and fiance were really nice. As were the other ranch guys with Mack. I could've done without the arson aspect and the thing about Mack's ex. I was prepared for a twist that never happen and am SO GLAD I was wrong. I would've been annoyed. The ghost town was fun and different as was Wes' dinner theater career. I am really excited to read Reyes and Miles (I assume) story.
Profile Image for The Novel Approach.
3,071 reviews135 followers
January 4, 2018
Wes loves his sister—so much so that he is willing to endure a week at a dude ranch to fulfill her every pre-wedding wish. Dragging along his roommate Miles, his sister’s fiancé, and his brother, the group of five descends upon Clean Slate Ranch to enjoy a week in the outdoors, complete with horseback riding and camping outdoors. Met with not one but three handsome cowboys, the rather flamboyant actor turns his sights on the quiet, brooding Mick Garrett. Mick has a story, one that includes his own experiences with a cheating actor who stole his heart, and his trust, before dying in a special op Mick and his team were involved in.

Ex police and SWAT team member, Mick is a no nonsense kind of man. Now working on his grandfather’s ranch, and enjoying the outdoors, his main focus is trying to keep the nearby small town of Garrett alive so that the Ranch is able to continue and prosper. He has no time for dallying with the guests, nor does he even care to, as he’s still grappling with the loss of the man he loved. But, despite his resolve to remain aloof, Wes gets under Mick’s skin, in all the right ways, and before either know it, the attraction they feel blossoms into more than just one heated encounter. Determined not to drag out what should have been a brief affair, both men part at the end of the week without exchanging any private information, and go their separate ways.

However, absence only amplifies the attraction and before too long, Wes and Mack are brought together again, and must decide if they really want to start a long-distance relationship that both are more than a bit wary of and reluctant to begin.

Wild Trail is the start of a new series called Clean Slate Ranch by author A.M. Arthur that, by all indications, is going to be a fun ride through at least three different cowboy’s lives. Mick, Colt, and Reyes are all good friends who have left their careers to start over at the ranch. Wild Trail focuses on initially introducing all three men and then focusing on Mick’s story. Having lost his lover to friendly fire from a police op gone wrong, Mick is very reluctant to give his heart away anytime soon, especially to another actor who seems rather self-involved. Wes, however, is much more than a shallow flirt, and fairly determined to get to know Mick much better. Both men have been burnt before, which makes them equally reluctant to embrace love even when it’s staring them right in the face.

The author weaves in two side stories with good effect-one being the revelation of who actually shot the bullet that killed Mick’s lover, Geoff, and the other about the origins of the remains of a ghost town Mick and Wes stumble upon. Thankfully the ending, which could have been too neatly tied up, is left a bit open ended, with a happy for now and more than a good chance of a happy-ever-after in the cards for Mick and Wes.

While I can appreciate a good kinky element in any relationship, the one offered up for Mick and Wes seemed a bit weak to me. The nicknames of “boss” and “Daddy” got a bit cloying, and the hints that some good old-fashioned domination in the bedroom was dangled but never really came to fruition, in my opinion. I wish the author would have chosen to either go full steam ahead with the tantalizing hints of the suggested Dom/sub vibe, or abandon it completely rather than go the anemic way in which the story actually played out. Despite that glitch, there was most definitely good chemistry between Mick and Wes, and a rather believable trajectory in the development of their relationship. I really appreciated how Wes’s career choices were handled, and the idea that he continued to pursue his dream rather than give it up for Mick’s.

Wild Trail is a good beginning to what could turn out to be a steamy and fun new series. If all the signs are reliable, then Miles (Wes’s roommate) may be the focus of the next installment, and I have a feeling his past will contain some fairly serious subject matter, if the hints dropped in this novel are any indication. Either way I am hooked and looking forward to seeing more of the men of Clean Slate Ranch.

Reviewed by Sammy for The Novel Approach
Profile Image for Antisocial Recluse.
2,704 reviews
December 11, 2017
A.M. Arthur is one of my very favorite authors and I was so thrilled she decided to write cowboys! Although it’s a dude ranch, featuring a few city slickers turned cowboys, the story completely caught the atmosphere and feel I expected. Wes arrives at the ranch with his sister Sophie, her fiancé and his best man, and Miles, Wes’s best friend and roommate. He’s instantly attracted to Mack, who works there with his former SWAT partner, Colt, plus Reyes, once a firefighter. I mention the professions because the characterizations were molded to fit so well with the ranch and cowboy vibe, without losing sight of their previous jobs. Most of the first half of the story follows the group during ranch activities, with some sizzling hook-ups, followed by feelings developing between Mack and Wes that seem destined to go nowhere. Painful relationships from their pasts have them agreeing to just a vacation fling.

The two men don’t see each other for a few weeks after that before succumbing to the inevitable, beginning a not so long distance relationship. Along with their time together, the latter half of the book covers work and interests each of them are involved in. Additional plot points revolve around their friends, Wes’s acting jobs and Mack’s new business for the ranch, keeping the narrative moving briskly. It is a fairly long book but it didn’t feel all that long. Very little angst is added, just emotional repercussions from Wes’s and Mack’s history with their exes. I got wrapped up in the added mystery, danger and action sequences, lies causing a rift between friends and mild conflict between the lovers.

POV’s switches between Mack and Wes, all in third person, is a comfortable writing style I prefer to read. I did dislike the pet names used, where Wes called Mack “daddy” and Mack called him “boss”. It wasn’t daddy kink, though the names came up in sex scenes but they’re only a few years apart in age, so it seemed strange. There were a couple of other minor inconsistencies and a dangling plot thread that I felt Wes should have followed up on before the epilogue. It involved Miles, so I’m fairly certain it will be addressed in a future book. All in all, it was well worth reading and should be very enjoyable for fans of modern westerns.

*An ARC was provided by the author or publisher via NetGalley and I have chosen to publish a fair and honest review for Hearts On Fire Reviews blog* #Wild Trail #NetGalley
Profile Image for Ije the Devourer of Books.
1,684 reviews52 followers
December 15, 2017

I have to be honest this was an ok story but I was bored. I thought it was well written but it just wasn't for me. I did like the characters, especially Wes, but the story wasn't gripping enough for me.

When Wes goes to a dude branch for his sisters pre-wedding holiday he is deeply attracted to Mack the rugged ex FBI cowboy. Unfortunately for him Mack doesn't really seem interested. Wes is determined to have some fun on his holiday and he charms Mack into his arms. The two of them have some great holiday sex with no expectations or attachments but when the time comes for Wes to return home he is surprised to find that he really wants something more from Mack. Alas Mack is ignoring him. Is there any hope for them or does what happen on the dude ranch stay on the dude ranch?

The story is pleasant enough with some good supporting characters and some interesting emerging story lines. This is the first book in a new series and I did wonder if the focus of the story is actually setting up the series. Of course it could simply be that this story was just not for me but I am sure it will turn out to be a good series for other people.

Copy provided by publishers via Netgalley in exchange for an unbiased review.
Profile Image for Lulu.
890 reviews20 followers
March 10, 2020
3.5 *

Story: 7
First MC: 8
Second MC: 7
Secondary characters: 6
Mystery: 3
Sexual tension: 6
Humor: 5
Hotness: 6
Product placement: 5
Ridiculousness: 4
Annoying: 5
Audio: 9 (9h 17min)
To re-read: 6

the author was way too busy setting up for at least two more sequels, all the boys seem to have some secrets, tragedies, and awful pasts that we didn't learn about in this book.
The book wasn't bad, I expected more. I can't even bring myself to say more...

The business with "daddy" was annoying! 31 y/o addressing a 34 y/o as daddy is weird!
widower cowboy, burned cowboy, killer cowboy, old cowboy, and an actor
Profile Image for Stephani Rozier.
131 reviews6 followers
March 31, 2020
This one has been sitting in my kindle for a long time but while searching Greg Boudreaux in Hoopla I found the series. It was totally worth the wait. Great story and great narration.
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