Saturday, October 12, 2013

Book Spotlight for Ride-Off by Mickie B. Ashling (Review)

Mickie B. Ashling is making a return visit to my site today with the second installment in her Polo series, Ride-Off.  Keep reading to get my impressions of this intensely emotional m/m read........

Finally reunited, Preston Fawkes and Konrad Schnell put family and obligations aside, preferring to remain in seclusion on Ned’s estate to get reacquainted. Unfortunately, reality can only be held off for so long, and they return to Texas to reclaim the life they put on pause. Trying to strike the right balance between business, family, and romance requires ongoing effort, and the challenges begin shortly after they arrive.
At the top of the list is Bandi, Konrad’s son, and his desire to play polo. A close second is Conrad “Sasha” Fawkes, Preston’s actor son who’s struggling to succeed on Broadway. And last, but certainly not least, is Paloma, the fiery Argentinean beauty Preston sired after a passionate tango.
Blending the interests and needs of three grown children is difficult at best and almost impossible when agendas collide and old secrets are unearthed. The situation comes to a head when the family gathers in San Antonio for Thanksgiving, throwing Preston and Konrad into a maelstrom they must weather as best they can, or they’ll face a major ride-off that could throw the game before it even starts.


When Monica had first broached the subject of their son’s orientation eight years ago, he’d been surprised. Preston hadn’t been around enough to see Con heading in that direction, so he’d assumed, like everyone else, that he was straight. He was certain his own father, John Fawkes, had blamed him for somehow influencing the boy, which was the furthest thing from the truth. Preston wouldn’t wish his lifestyle on anyone, let alone his son, but fate had other plans for the boy. Being a long distance dad hadn’t let him off the hook though, and Monica Dearest had insisted they have “The Talk.” It would go down in the annals of history as one of the worst moments of his life, and considering the kind of life he’d led up to that point, it was momentous, to say the least.
“Mom thinks you and I should have a conversation,” he’d started, stepping into Conrad’s lair when he was barely thirteen. Looking around the untidy room, he noticed the posters of Queer As Folk covering one wall. One character in particular, some brunet with water dripping down his naked chest, looked particularly fuckable and Preston had to admire his son’s taste. He’d do that guy in a minute.
Con looked at him innocently. “What about, Dad?”
Preston pointed at the poster. “You think about him when you jerk off?”
Preston chuckled. “Sorry… that didn’t come out right, did it?”
If Conrad’s eyes had gotten any larger, they’d have fallen out of their sockets. “This is so gay, Dad.”
“Nothing like getting right down to the subject at hand,” he’d replied. “Let’s talk gay, son. How far have you gotten in terms of exploration?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Con replied primly.
“Alright,” Preston said. “If you want to play stupid, I’ll go along. Do you like boys or girls?”
“None of your business!”
“Unfortunately, it is,” Pres sighed. “My job is to make sure you’re playing it safe at all times. Answer me, Con. Boys or girls?”
“Boys,” he’d confessed reluctantly. “But I know everything, Dad. There’s nothing you can say that I don’t already know.”
“Is that right?” Preston said, dismissing the preposterous claim. He stared at the computer on Conrad’s desk and wondered if he’d ventured into the gay websites yet. Hell, he, personally, hadn’t even known they’d existed until recently. The Internet was just starting to change the world, and he knew it would be a while before the connections were up to speed on the ranch, so perhaps the boy was still in the dark. Then again, he might know it all, just as he claimed. So long as one had a credit card, which Conrad did, he had access. Gay sex, or any sex for that matter, was readily available with the click of a mouse. Nonetheless, he’d signed on as his dad, and had sworn to keep him safe, no matter how ridiculous or redundant it might seem. He knew that Konrad would have demanded that he sit the boy down and list in graphic detail every goddamn disease known to man. It was what he’d done when Pres was a young and precocious kid, so he’d closed his eyes and pretended he was Konrad Schnell for the next half hour. By the time he’d finished his dissertation on the perils of bed-hopping, young Conrad looked like he was going to puke.
“Info dump?” he’d asked, feeling rather sick himself. It was always a mystery how he’d managed to stay healthy considering his checkered past.
Con shook his head. “I guess I didn’t know it all,” he admitted. “Thank you for telling me.”
Preston stood to go and kissed his boy on the head. “I may not win the award for Father of the Year, but I know about sex. You come to me anytime you have a question. I don’t care how fucked up or outrageous it might seem to you,” he said. “And don’t worry about Mom finding out. I’d rather have my tongue ripped out then discuss dildos with that woman. Got it?”
Conrad smiled. “’Kay.”
Back in the present, he felt a prickly beard tickling his ear and turned toward Kon, who asked, “What’s troubling you?”
“Parenting,” Preston said derisively. “It’s a bitch, isn’t it?”
“Tell me about it.”
“We should have stuck to Andalusians.”
“We’ll do better next time,” Kon replied, meshing fingers.
They had matching wedding rings made of Spanish sterling silver and the sight of them always reminded Preston that they had been given a second chance and for that he was grateful. “We’re doing much better this time around,” he said softly.
“I know,” Kon replied, lifting Preston’s hand for a kiss. “I wish Sasha had a better role in this play.”
“That makes two of us.”
“Isn’t there anyone you know who could give him the break he needs?”
“Not in this field.”
“Too bad.”
“I think it’s time to issue an ultimatum.”
“Because he’s going nowhere fast.”
“These things take time, Flea. Some people aren’t as lucky as others.”
“That’s bullshit and you know it. He needs to be more aggressive and not expect the plum roles to fall into his lap like magic.”
“What are you going to do?”
“I’m cutting him off after Christmas. He’s got three months to prove he can do this or he comes back home and starts to earn his keep.”
“Doing what?”
“That’ll go over really well.”
“It’s time, Kon.”
“Let me know when you’re planning to talk to him. I want to be as far away as possible.”
Preston smirked. “Ya think he’ll pitch a fit?”
“He’s your son, isn’t he?”
“He’ll split a gut,” Pres concluded.
“Like I said,” Kon rumbled, “count me out of that conversation.”
“I’ll wait until we’re ’bout ready to board the plane.”
Kon shook his head. “You’re too much, Flea.”

BUY here.


The melodrama continues in Mickie B. Ashling's book Ride-Off where its large cast of characters continue to be put through the emotional wringer following the events in Firehorse.  It's the younger generation that's focused on in this story fighting for happiness along with their namesakes amidst jealousy and secrets.  Just when long-lost lovers Konrad and Preston seem to have their relationship on track, the guilt they feel for not being there enough for their kids rears its ugly head when PTSD symptoms again creep into their relationship.  To truly heal they both have to learn they can't go back and that they can only go forward and embrace the love they can now express openly.  I ached for their anger over lost time but the rage and jealousy they've been expressing is ruining the relationships they can now build on and make them appear immature.

Older man Ned and young hot-shot polo player Bandi's relationship is also still going strong despite other's judgements regarding their age gap.  Bandi wants to be independent though as Ned has taken care of him and given him everything since they met.  In the vein of if you love something set it free, Bandi goes on the road by himself to improve his polo playing and is introduced to temptation from an unexpected source and slowly realizes that home is where the heart is and makes a decision that will forever change his future.

The final couple to go through heartache is Sasha née Conrad and his friend Jeremy.  A traumatic incident in his teen years has traumatized Sasha and kept him from fully committing to a relationship.  He's scared of having his power taken away and kept himself separate for fear of being vulnerable.  The flamboyant Jeremy has been the supportive friend but has always been drawn to Sasha and slowly ingratiated himself into his life and protected him when Sasha's past comes back to haunt him.  Sasha has issues of jealousy in regards to his father's attention.  After being ignored as a child he's desperate for attention now and has a tantrum when he doesn't get it.  I found him incredibly annoying early on but Jeremy made him a better more understanding man.  He's allowed past hurts to color his life but with the colorful, and surprisingly strong-willed, Jeremy by his side he's growing up to be a more forgiving and happy man.

The final ingredient to this story is another unknown child of Preston's who's been kept hidden away and is now anxious to live life.  Paloma is another flamboyant character who longs to be a polo player.  She's manipulative and willing to sleep with whoever to get ahead.  She's loyal to her family though but I never warmed up to her careless attitude and tendency to guilt others into doing what she wants.  Her future was left hanging and it's unclear where she fits in by the end of the story, and considering my frustration with her I'm not sure I cared.

This story has numerous characters which makes the story hard to follow at the start.  With its nicely flowing narrative though I quickly got immersed into the story and was finally able to understand the genealogy of the characters.  I found the story a bit too melodramatic at times with its over-the-top scenes and characters which made this a story hard to love but definitely entertaining and memorable.  The sexual interludes were hot and varied considering the unique m/m couplings and were nicely spaced throughout the story so as to not overwhelm the storyline.  On a whole I found myself drawn to this story even as it was frustrating me and it kept me turning the pages.  Reading the first book in this series is a necessity though to help in understanding these character's motivations and romantic entanglements.  Fans of the m/m genre will find themselves drawn to this series and Mickie B. Ashling's writing.

My rating for this is a C+

*I received this book from the author for review in exchange for my honest opinion.


Mickie B. Ashling is the alter-ego of a multifaceted woman raised by a single mother who preferred reading over other forms of entertainment. She found a kindred spirit in her oldest child and encouraged her with a steady supply of dog-eared paperbacks. Romance was the preferred genre, and historical romances topped her favorites list.
By the time Mickie discovered her own talent for writing, real life had intruded, and the business of earning a living and raising four sons took priority. With the advent of e-publishing and the inevitable emptying nest, dreams were resurrected, and the storyteller was reborn.
She stumbled into the world of men who love men in 2002 and continues to draw inspiration from their ongoing struggle to find equality and happiness in this oftentimes skewed and intolerant world. Her award-winning novels have been called "gut wrenching, daring, and thought provoking." She admits to being an angst queen and making her men work damn hard for their happy endings.
Mickie loves to travel and has lived in the Philippines, Spain, and the Middle East but currently resides in a suburb outside Chicago.
You can contact her at or leave a comment on her website at or her blog at

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