The Mule Man hit all—and I do mean *all*—of my bullet points for a proper short story: compelling characters, tight knit plot, character growth and development, a balance of description and dialog that provides page turner narrative flow and most important…
…a doggone rousing story filled with authentic details, location-location-location, and two leads—Orr the mule man and Jase his client looking for an adventure—both of whom captured my heart and had me rooting for them from the get go.
Using carefully crafted scenes, the author introduces and fleshes out each character in near perfect show-not-tell fashion. Having known a few mules in my time, and being privy to some outrageous tales of adventure and misadventure packing into wilderness areas, I really appreciated the attention to detail and the true sense of what makes mules tick. That alone made the pack string vibrant characters in their own right.
Since it’s a short story and to wax too specific would lessen the impact, I’d rather just rave about the intelligent writing, the authentic details, the sense of place, the respect for wilderness areas, and a fine appreciation for how the author managed to forge believable romantic elements with economy and true story telling ability.
If you like westerns in a contemporary setting, if you love city and country going head-to-head, if you love anything of the long-eared persuasion, you are going to adore this novella. The ending is realistic and definitely upbeat. I know my heart did a wee flip at the end.
I’m giving The Mule Man two enthusiastic thumbs up, five stars and a recommended read.
Orr Loveless is exactly where he knows he belongs, rescuing and training mules. Despite their reputation, which he feels is undeserved, he knows they are smart, sure footed, and great mounts for trail riding and outdoor adventures. The only thing he lacks is a human partner to share the work and the fun, but he knows his lifestyle is not likely to attract one.
Jase Keller has returned to New Mexico, where his forgotten roots remain. With his high finance job destroying him, he desperately needs a big change for this vacation. Only Orr Loveless doesn’t seem to want to take him on a wilderness trip. When they go, it’s the opposite of the farm boy seeing the city for the first time. Jase discovers another life and it’s the one he wants to live … with Orr by his side.
Can Jase persuade a stubborn mule man like Orr that he doesn’t need to be “loveless” any longer?