by Sarah Black, contemporary (2007)
Liquid Silver Books, $5.25, ISBN 978-1-59578-401-8
The cover art has me thinking that Sarah Black's short story Fearless is a gay historical romance but it turns out that this one is a contemporary romance. A quick check reveals that this short story was previously published in an anthology of the same name by MLR Press just three months or so ago. Check out the really ugly and badly Photoshopped cover of the MLR Press anthology if you have the chance. The "artist" has merely sloppily pasted the faces of some recognizable Hollywood actors over the bodies of some fellows without even checking to see if the proportions match. The artist must have taken classes from Trace Edward Zaber.
Our heroes Lt Colton Wheeler and Dr Diego Del Rio are already involved at the start of this story. Well, it's a good way as any to justify the first chapter being all about putting the lube to good use. If you can't already tell by the names of the heroes, we are in Tucson where Colton owns a ranch. His uncle is the Sheriff and had said some homophobic things in the past to cause Colton to feel that he shouldn't come out to his uncle. Still, he has his sickeningly sweet romance with Diego until a dramatic event strikes, leaving behind a dead body, Diego going MIA, and Colton injured. Next thing Colton knows, there is a warrant for Diego's arrest. Something is wrong with this scenario, and Colton is going to find Diego to figure things out and rebuild his happy home.
Fearless is a most enjoyable story. I can guess pretty early who the bad guy in this story is because it's... really obvious, let's just say, but I find the story nonetheless fast-paced and engaging enough to make up for the lack of suspense on my part. This is a short story, so there isn't much depth to the characters, especially Diego who is MIA during the more important moments in the story. Diego, therefore, comes off as this nice fellow but not much else. Colton, being the guy on a mission, is a little more better-developed character than Diego. I really like how he gets violent on the bad guy's behind in the name of love. There's nothing like hard bruises and bloody wounds inflicted with rage arising from a desire to avenge a loved one to make me swoon, I tell you.
The happy moments between Diego and Colton are generally too sweet for me. I actually shudder when they call each other "dear" and "honey" because I get Full House vibes from these moments. There is also some editing boo-boo here and there, such as this one:
Chan came very late one night, told him they’d been given a pile of BS cases and the sheriff was watching them real close. There was a warrant out for Diego's arrest, attempted murder, assault and battery, kidnapping, sodomy.
That last sentence has me thinking for a moment that Diego was arrested, murdered, assaulted, battered, kidnapped, and sodomized all at once.
Still, on the whole, even if I like the two guys better when they are getting all angsty instead of making those sickening puckering with their lips, Fearless is, I find, an entertaining story. It has the added bonus of being a little different from a more formulaic boy-meets-boy-and-angsts romance and really, Colton is quite charming when he's hurting and threatening to beat people up.
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