When vegan, peace-loving, social do-gooder Park Williams stumbles across the half-dead cattle rancher who has been sabotaging the Willow Springs Ranch in the name of a homophobic militia group…there’s only one thing to do. Save his life, then share his tent. Waking to find the man’s dick pressed against his ass is just a bonus. Tanner Triplett is in trouble. Not the your-brother-is-a-sociopathic-murderer-and-you’re-his-next-victim sort of trouble. Not even the your-father-is-trying-to-overthrow-the-federal-government-and-you’re-going-to-jail-for-helping kind of trouble. No…this is the sort of trouble that comes when you wake up with stranger’s dick in your hand. Holy fuck. How is he going to get out of this? A sudden need to run for their lives ought to do it. Determined to make amends, Tanner leads Park to the relative safety of the WSR, where the biggest danger should be from gun-wielding cowboys seeking revenge. Tanner hadn’t counted on sharing a room with the exotically beautiful Park or the danger to his heart when the carefully erected walls protecting his secret come tumbling down.
I’ve said it before and I’m saying it again. Every series has that one book that just doesn’t hold up to the rest of the series. In the Willow Springs Ranch Series, that book is Park’s Lot. Without reservation or hesitation, I can lay the blame for this squarely at one character’s feet, Park Williams.
Park was introduced briefly in Hanging Chad as the social worker assigned to Chad’s case. Chad’s case was so corrupt and wrong on so many levels that it became the straw that broke the camel’s back. Along with all the other hurt and despair Park has seen as a social worker, he has decided to call it quits and move on to the next stage of his life. Park’s Lot opens with Park and his two dogs taking off into the wild blue yonder where, as it turns out is just a few miles from the Willow Springs Ranch. Park fully intends to spend two solid weeks living of the land (and protein bars) and being completely removed from all of civilization. The unfortunate presence of one badly beaten and near-death Tanner Triplett throws a huge monkey wrench into those plans.
Tanner Triplett has had a truly shitty life and it sure doesn’t seem to be getting any better. His father and brother are true believers in some pretty scary stuff and have spent their lives trying to convince Tanner of the rightness of their path. Tanner’s family is so convinced that Tanner has spent the bulk of his life hiding his true nature from his family. If his father and brother really knew about Tanner, they would kill him. In fact, Tanner is pretty sure his current near-death status is a direct result of his brother’s attack. What’s worse, if his body isn’t found, his brother is going to come after him again and this time, he’ll finish the job he started.
When Park and his dogs find Tanner alone and hurt in the middle of the desert there is no question about helping him. As circumstances play out, Park ends up taking Tanner to the WSR, the one place Tanner has been taught is an abomination and should be destroyed. In fact, Tanner has played a part in more than one act of destruction against the WSR and fully expects the men who live at the ranch to instantly turn him over to the authorities. What Tanner doesn’t expect is Park to vehemently come to his defense and for Cass and crew to not only take him in and help him but, be more than willing to listen to his story. In fact, for the first time in his life, Tanner feels accepted for who he is and wants nothing more than to live his life as he chooses, according to his beliefs, and to make amends for his actions.
As Tanner’s injuries heal his emotions also come into focus and he accepts his feelings for Park. Park is adamant in his belief in Tanner’s goodness but it is going to take more than a few sweet words to convince Tanner of the truth. The first step toward earning back his honor and self-respect is divulging everything he knows about his family’s plans for the WSR. Though Tanner doesn’t know every detail, he knows enough to go to the authorities which will, in turn bring down a huge network of evil-doers, plotters, and schemers.
The Bottom Line: Park’s Lot brings to a close one of the major plot lines that has spanned several books in the Willow Springs Ranch series. The resolution of this plot line is beyond satisfying and, along with Tanner, is the primary reason this read made it to 2½ stars for me. Tanner isn’t the guy you think you’re going to like but once his story comes out, he becomes a far more likeable character. His only flaw, for me, is his choice of partner. Park is just a truly terrible character though I may be one of the few who feels that way. There are just so many aspects to Park, his behavior, and manner that I never could get past. Believe me, I tried. I read the book twice and Park just never got better for me. Of all the WSR men, Park is the most effeminate and doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the WSR cast and crew. His most admirable quality is his devotion to Tanner and his dogs. Yeah, that’s all I’ve got there. As with most series, I won’t let one bad read turn me away from the rest of these reads and so, it is forward I shall go.