Review by Erastes
From the blurb: The Double H cowboys are a tough bunch, and none of them are gay – exactly- but they have been out there on the prairie for several weeks, herding cattle, and new thoughts have begun to enter their minds. Enter Buck, a handsome young drifter with a silly grin, an unembarrassed penchant for being “rode hard,” and an instant hankering for Les
Well, howdy pardner, git yer six shooters, put on yer spurs, mount yer pinto, and meet me out on the plains because this here is classic and familiar manly territory, the land of the cowpuncher, the lassoo, the round-up and the stampede. Where men are men, a horse is a cowboy’s best friend, and cows are
nervous substitutes for da ladeez.
Except not. This is grand ole pulp and enjoyable as the rodeo ride is where the wind comes racing down the wossit – it doesn’t convince as accurate history.
Buck is a newcomer to Les’ round-up gang (yee hah) and is cheeky and sex-mad and determined to get laid by just about anyone. He forms a fuck-buddy relationship early on, but his eyes and soon his heart is taken by the seemingly straight as an arrow Les, so he pesters Les to have his wicked way with him.
Pesters sums it up, too – as I did find him a pest, to be frank. If I’d have been Les I’d have sacked him (however good he was on a horse) or beaten him up, sharpish. He does the latter later on, and I’m afraid I actually cheered.
It was unconvincing to me because I couldn’t get over the OKHomo. There’s this band of hard-ridin’, rootin’, tootin’ hombres in the prairie and they don’t bat an eyelid at this overtly queer cowboy who makes absolutely no secret about what he wants. Not only are they all OK with it, but most of them are at it too.
I don’t doubt that some did, but all of them? Banis lost an opportunity for conflict here, as I’d much have preferred a realistic situation where at least some of them were violently antagonistic instead of taking bets on when Buck and Les get together. I hate to bring bi-sexual shepherds into this, but even in the 60’s this was a serious problem. I don’t want unremitting homophobia in my books, or angst angst angst either, but I do think that ignoring the fact that it could be dangerous to admit you were gay denigrates the genre. Imagine what people would say if someone wrote a historical novel where everyone in, say, 18th century Alabama, married black people without even a second thought.
The anachronisms jarred me too – I know that a lot of people don’t care about this, but this is the blog relating to gay Historical fiction, and so I’m obliged to comment. Blowjob is an English Polari term not coined until the mid-20th century, boner is 20th century, Stetsons weren’t called that officially until the turn of the century, and so on and on.
However – putting all that aside, and if you treat this parallel to , say, an early John Ford movie – it’s as enjoyable as Stagecoach, and about as accurate. It’s a fun raunchy ride, but it didn’t do anything much for me, I’m afraid. I’m more an “Unforgiven” kind of reader, and less “Young Guns.”