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‘It was hard to be in love with someone who was desperate not to love you…’

We pretty much love everything Barbara Elsborg writes and once again we found ourselves marvelling at the way in which another story grabbed our hearts from the moment we began reading. She drew us in with her intriguing storyline, her wonderful quirky and lovable characters, her wit and her passion. Her darkness and suffering. Her characters all have a way of burrowing deep into our hearts seeing us falling in love, making us break into spontaneous laughter and igniting that protective instinct within us. Pasha is that perfect quintessential male character which Barbara Elsborg writes so well.

‘He might have friends, but he was lonely. He wanted someone to love. He wanted to be special to someone…’

Pasha is a young Russian model who is seen at every party and is a popular social media darling. A young man whose family life is the exact opposite; cold, lacking in affection and family love. His teenage years in boarding school saw him fall into a relationship with a horrific older man who inflicted such pain and personal manipulation of a young boy, which carried into his twenties. Our hearts broke but we admired Pasha’s inner strength, his nurturing ways and his ability to overcome life with his wicked sense of humour. He was adorable, funny, loving and emotionally vulnerable. Pasha was lonely. Under the horrifically brutal Russian regime, what with their stand on homosexuality, Pasha was in constant danger due to his natural openness about who he is. A boy who likes boys. The fact that this is still a crime or even abhorred in any part of the world is an injustice so cruel and inhumane.

‘Pasha just wanted to be happy. He wanted to hold a man’s hand in public. He wanted to go out on dates, to lie with a guy on a couch and watch a film, to cook together, have fun. None of that was going to happen here. Nor when he went back to Moscow. Pasha knew that nothing would change. Happiness would continue to seem out of reach – on the next page, around the next corner, the next day, next week, next year.’

Pasha is sent away by his father to a remote farm in the dank and freezing Russian countryside as a punishment for betraying a perceived notion of trust. A farm where Pasha is so out of his element it had us chuckling yet admiring his ability to bring to the surface that part of him that shows such authentic compassion. He also found a cowboy named Levi who would change his life.

‘I don’t need your love.
I don’t want the pain in my chest.
I don’t want the hole in my heart.
I can survive.
I will survive.’

Levi is a man who himself has not had an easy ride in life, growing up on a farm in Montana in a home you can’t exactly call happy nor healthy as it’s riddled with judgement and lacklustre family relationships. He’s lost and has endured cruelty at the hands of his loved ones in a bid to be ‘cured’ of his supposed ‘gay affliction’. It made for hard reading and we’re distraught that love is still considered to be a ‘sickness’. Levi is sent to the same farm in Russia as Pasha to pass on valuable knowledge on how to run a farm in every aspect there is. To teach Russians how to be real cowboys.

“I wish I could be the one for you, but I can’t. We come from different worlds. I can’t live in yours and you can’t live in mine. “

When this strong and fierce cowboy meets the sweet, snarky and boyish model the intensity of attraction light up the pages. However nothing in life ever comes easy and they must fight for the love, happiness and contentment they both not only deserve but crave. We loved every moment we spent with these boys and the epilogue was one of the most wonderful we’ve read by this Author!

“I feel like I’m waiting at the launch pad for a rocket to take off. Counting down the days. I want the rocket to fly, I want it to reach the stars, but I wish I was going too.”
“You’ll fly. Just not with me.”
‘But I don’t want to fly without you.’

Synopsis

When you stand on the edge, you might just find yourself falling.

Teaching Russians how to be cowboys? Levi thinks his father is joking when he tells him that’s what he wants him to do for the next six months. Working in the frozen desolation of southwest Russia he’ll earn enough to buy a new barn for their Montana ranch. But there’s a deeper agenda for sending him to the edge of nowhere. It will stop him sloping off on Saturday nights to gay bars and clubs for threesomes with strangers.

Pasha finally pushes his father too far and is banished to a remote ranch in the middle of a snowy Russian winter. Stripped of all the trappings of his privileged Moscow lifestyle, he has nothing at his disposal but a suitcase of designer clothes and a whole lot of sass. Pasha hates the countryside, hates physical work, hates the cold and hates cows. But de-prived of money, phone, and access to anyone who might help him, he’s screwed and not in a good way.

Levi’s counting down the days till he can return to the States and his Saturday night hook-ups. Then Pasha arrives at the ranch wearing eyeliner, retching every time he walks into a barn, and Levi is amused, irritated—and attracted. After a vicious attack on Pasha throws them into close quarters, both men are forced to re-evaluate not just who the other is, but whether they truly want to return to the lives they left behind.

When you stand on the edge, you just might find yourself falling in love.

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