Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5
Wendell Blackowl has spent all his life in the working cow horse show ring where toiling with sweaty cowboys all day is the fodder for wet dreams. Though privately he’s come to terms with his sexuality, publicly Dell’s had to build a façade. When his beloved horse Buttermilk dies, Dell finds himself at loose ends so he decides to pick himself up by his boot straps and do what he’s always wanted to do… open an environmentally friendly organic vegetarian café.
Pace Avila, well known music critic, has been drawn to Austin by the live music scene. When friends invite him to check out a fresh new dinner experience, Pace reluctantly agrees to push the deadline on his national column. He isn’t interested in vegetarian food or a restaurant with the cheesy name of Buttermilk Ranch Café, but the moment Pace lays eyes on the stunning cowboy chef, things begin looking up.
When openly gay Pace walks into his cafe and his life, Dell realizes he’s tired of living a lie and tired of being alone. When Mother Nature throws an unprecedented storm at Austin, the muddy waters threaten to wipe out everything Dell’s worked so hard to build. He soon realizes that with a man like Pace by his side, love really can conquer all.
I love my gay cowboys and a gay cowboy turned chef? Well, that had all the makings of a book to rope in my heart! See? Got cute, combined cooking and rodeo analogies…oh never mind. Enough of the diversionary tactics. From that gorgeous cover which is finely detailed right down to the wooden spoon in the back pocket to the blurb, I was gleefully anticipating a new story to trumpet. I really need to stop getting ahead of myself.
The author’s narrative starts derailing from the beginning. Patricia Logan has her characters use what I like to call “countryspeak”, call it an author’s country answer to Spanglish. Its not really true to any regional location you can pin down, or to specific sayings or colloquialisms, its just that the author throws in a “ya” or “heya” here and there enough for their people to sound like the way the author thinks someone from that part of the country sounds like. Compounding the issues is the problem of continuity. The “ya” is then quickly followed by a “you” or “your” not “ya’ll” or what have you. Sometimes “countryspeak” rules, other times its completely forgotten, a disruption in character foundation and all around displacement the story’s setting that is echoed in other segments that work against the story as well.
The most basic of these elements is characterization. Patricia Logan’s Wendell Blackowl has a very detailed background, from his family history, life on his parents ranch to his long time with the rodeo, all closeted and with good reasons set down for that status. From the prologue on, Logan present’s Dell as a well defined man. I liked his Buttermilk Ranch/Restaurant, even thought Logan made the argument for Dell’s vegetarianism logical and appealing. However, none of that lasts very long. With the entrance of Pace, comes instant love (yet no charisma) and Blackowl’s characterization is forgotten as a new one is created along with the needs of the storyline. Dell is a virgin. Dell and Pace and going to go slow. And no they don’t. Dell loves and respects his mother. Then comes out to her at…no, its just too sad. Would you really take the chance of doing that to your beloved mother just before she gives an important speech at a Pride event? It makes no sense the way that it was written. Or given the way the relationship dynamics were laid out in the story.
Yes, there are some nice moments. Also some weird ones with a bdsm club. Perhaps, there is another series this book is temporarily connecting with, I’m just not sure because its not adequately explained. Maybe they will arrive in later books. Either way, the country-speak, the characterizations and continuity…all big Cs that went wrong in this story had already brought the rating down past the 3 stars.
For some of you, the sweet love story that exists, buried underneath the structural defects I see, will be enough for you to enjoy because its a quick story. For you, have fun reading. For all the others, there are other cowboys in love for you to discover, whose dialog and colloquialisms will drop you into their romance and location as though you are part of their lives and scenery. I wouldn’t settle for less than that.
Cover art by AJ Corza. This is one of my favorite covers. With the long hair in a braid that shouts Dell to the chef’s spoon in the back pocket. Its marvelous right down to the colors.
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