After six long months in rehab, Navy Veteran Tyler Hardin received his medical discharge and heads west to visit with his mentor and surrogate father, only to arrive minutes after his old friend passes. Ranch owner Cass Cartwright takes one look at the handsome stranger and knows he’s in danger of doing the one thing he swore never to do: fall in love. Cass works to convince Tyler to overcome his past and give a relationship with another man a chance, even while someone is working to sabotage his ranch and his one true chance at love.
My Rating: 4½/5 stars
Ty Hard is one of those reads that I just don’t understand its overall star rating on Goodreads. In case you can’t tell by my star rating, I kind of really, really enjoyed this read. In fact, I read it in one sitting and didn’t care about the fact that it was 3 a.m. when I finished 🙂
Plot: There’s a lot going on in this first read and Harner does a good job of covering all the bases and tying up all the loose ends.
1) This is FICTION so yes, there is a disproportionately large number of gay and/or bisexual men living at or in the vicinity of Willow Springs Ranch. As owner Cass Cartwright clearly explains, his ranch is a place where these men can live their lives and work in their chosen field as they see fit and with no judgement.
2) Ty thought he would spend his life in the Navy but a serious injury during his third tour in Afghanistan has left him with a serious case of PTSD and nowhere else to go but to his friend and mentor, Gibby. Gibby has long been the cook at Willow Springs Ranch and taught Ty everything he knows about a kitchen and cooking for a large group. Just as Ty arrives at the ranch, he finds out his friend has died and that leaves well and truly at a loss for what to do with his life and where to go.
3) Cass owns and operates Willow Springs Ranch and has made, not only a home for himself but a home for others like him. Cass runs a tight ship and expects his employees to work just as hard as he does, follow the rules, and generally behave with common courtesy. Until the moment Ty walked into his life, Cass hasn’t ever mixed business with pleasure but Ty makes him want to break all his rules and with that comes trouble from some among the work crew.
Characters: Both Ty and Cass are supremely likeable characters. Ty is so damaged and not just from the physical wounds and PTSD. Ty has a very hard, very sad background that just makes you want to hug him. With that being said, Ty is not a man who needs to be cared for but a man who has learned to overcome obstacles, defend himself (he was a SEAL as well as a cook :)), and stand on his own two feet. Yes, he still struggles and the death of Gibby hits him hard but Ty is more than capable of handling the situation he now finds himself in. Cass is strong and stern right alongside kind and caring. The moment he meets Ty, Cass knows they are meant to be together but it is going to take a whole lot of patience and trust on both their parts. As events unfold at the ranch, Ty learns to trust Cass, Cass becomes more willing to open up and the two realize they have something far beyond the physical.
In addition to Ty and Cass, Ty Hard is populated with other minor characters that contribute significantly to the plot line. Though Gibby has already died when Ty arrives at Willow Springs, flashbacks to the old fart offer great insight into his role in Ty’s life and how he, Gibby fit in at the ranch. There is also Roy, Gibby’s long-time partner. Though Roy doesn’t have a huge role in this read, his role is significant. It is Roy’s job to push Cass and Ty in the right direction and help them both to understand how much Gibby cared for them and how happy it would have made the man to see both of them happy. Finally, there is Holden Titus, quite literally the new sheriff in town who is called in when certain events begin to unfold around Ty and Cass. Holden is tough, no nonsense, and determined to do right by the men at Willow Springs Ranch. By read’s end, it is clear that Holden is in a world of hurt but his story is far, far from over and I’m pretty sure his story includes a handsome yet prickly veterinarian.
The Bottom Line: I am a total slut for good characters and Ty Hard really fit the bill for me. Ty and Cass are so easy to like which makes falling into their read supremely easy. With the addition of the minor characters, both good and bad, I found Willow Springs Ranch and the surrounding community just the place for me. Harner covers a lot of ground in this first read but nothing is overly complex or complicated so she is able to more than satisfactorily tie everything up by the end of the read. This isn’t high literature but a work of fiction that I found entertaining and quite enjoyable. The naughty bits are delicious, the romance is sweet, and the drama is just right for this type and length of read. Ty Hard is a fine introduction to the Willow Springs Ranch Series and will most certainly appeal to those who enjoy cowboys (who doesn’t?), M/M romance, and light action/mystery.