Ride the Whirlwind (Love Across Time #4)

Title: Ride the Whirlwind: A Love Across Time Story
Author: Jackie North
Publisher: Blue Rain Press
Release Date: September 17 2019
Genre(s): M/M Historical Romance, Time Travel
Page Count: 374
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Blurb:  Read book blurb here

FYI -- "Ride the Whirlwind" builds on the previous books in the Love Across Time series ("Wild as the West Texas Wind" and "Honey from the Lion") and while this could be read as a standalone, you'll definitely want to read the first two books in the series to get a better feel of the relationship between the three time traveling friends, Laurie, Zach and Maxton.

With Laurie and John working (with the help of Zach and Layton) to open their hotel in 1892 Trinidad, Colorado, Maxton is not doing well alone in the present. He loses the apartment he and Laurie shared, and runs afoul of both a local motorcycle gang as well the police and FBI who wonder what he knows about the mysterious disappearances of his two friends, Laurie and Zach. Driving through a whirlwind throws him into the past and he ends up in a nearby jail being abused by the deputies. Sheriff Trent Harrington is asked by Laurie to retrieve Maxton and bring him to Trinidad.

The plot beautifully brings together these two lonely men. Maxton protects his frightened heart with a tough asshat-ish shell while Trent hides behind his respectable job and reputation, but each so desperately need love and support.
In their journey through the desert, Trent finally (briefly) gets past "too many years of holding back, most likely, or pure cowardice, he didn't know which" and has an incredibly sexy and moving experience with Maxton:
He could not believe that there could be laughter amidst the passion, kindness, acknowledgment without judgment. Trent flung his forearm across his eyes to hide the tears that streaked from the outer corners of his eyes.
Trent works to teach Maxton that gentleness and kindness have a place in a relationship, but when Trent returns to Trinidad with Maxton ... the pace of the story grinds to a frustrating crawl as Trent hides back in his shell and returns to his lonely little yellow house on the hill overlooking town. The remainder of the book focuses almost solely on Trent denying himself, Maxton feeling he isn't worthy of love and John mediating between Zach and Maxton's petty squabbles. But we finally get an ending that is almost worth the wait:
This, above all things, had been woven into his dreams in the night, his waking thoughts in the day. To be in bed with another man, where they would just hold each other and talk about their day until their voices grew drowsy and they fell asleep in each other's arms. He'd not quite realized it till this moment, how much that dream had meant to him. And now it was about to come true.
The author really does a nice job of picking up on the nuances of the era, lovingly describing the scenery of the desert and exploring the mindset of people of the era. Where "Ride the Whirlwind" really works for me is Trent's emotional growth and acceptance of his sexuality. However the pacing is sooooo slow and honestly I kept waiting for Tom Ketchum to show up to mix things up! But overall, another enjoyable time travel read from Jackie North and 4 stars for "Ride the Whirlwind."

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