by TA Chase, contemporary (2008)
Liquid Silver Books, $5.95, ISBN 978-1-59578-427-8
TA Chase's Home Of His Own is more of an ensemble soap opera rather than a more conventional romance story because ranch hand Tony Romano's romance with Brody MacCafferty seems to take a backseat at times to the ongoing drama involving Tony's family members and other assorted secondary characters. Having not read the previous book in the series, I wonder whether I should have because the author plunges me straight into Tony's family drama that I feel rather lost from the start.
Tony's sister Maria asks him to come back to Austin to give her son Juan a helping hand. It turns out that Juan is gay and Tony could very well be the only person who can help the young man deal with the people around him who don't understand, much less accept, Juan for who he is. Before he plays the family shrink, Tony heads off to Hawaii for a vacation where he ends up having a fling with Brody. Brody shows up in Tony's life once again later in the story because it is a small world and Brody's brother Yancey turns out to be someone Tony knows quite well. Brody however is a rich fellow who runs a bodyguard provider business while Tony is a GLBT activist masquerading as a cowboy. Can they be in for the long haul?
As you can probably tell from the previous paragraph, I have a hard time buying Tony's depiction because this fellow seems more like an agenda in motion than a character in a story. The author seems to be using Tony as a soapbox because Tony comes off more like a sensitive emo shrink. I can't see him as a cowboy because this guy pretty much walks on air, disconnected from his surrounding because he's like this guru sent down from the clouds to instill self-esteem and confidence in troubled gay teenagers everywhere. He sprouts lines that are more at home in a talk show and... let's just say that I have a difficult time seeing him roughing it out there as a cowboy.
Then again, the other cowboys that work with Tony aren't too believable either as they go around calling each other too-sweet terms of endearment and acting as if they are graduates from charm school. They seem more like a bunch of enlightened gentleman who'd rather be discussing Oscar Wilde in a tea room rather than ranchers sweating and wrestling with cattle in the middle of the big wilderness out there.
Brody's personality and speech pattern fit him better but then again, he's the city guy rather than the cowboy.
Therefore, while I find nothing wrong with the author's polished prose, I have a hard time seeing Home Of His Own as anything more than a political affirmation action agenda in motion masquerading as a soap opera. Tony is either much too sage and too understanding, speaking like a walking motivation seminar, or he's being this lovelorn fellow wondering whether he will ever be loved. If this is a cartoon, he'll the character with the saucer-sized eyes glittering with stars.
There is a bonus very short story here, Where His Home Lies, which sees a family reunion moment involving even more sappy cowboys to make me shudder. It's like being trapped in a broken-down elevator with twenty million Carebears.
Ultimately, this one is too sweet, too sappy, and too unbelievable for me. The wise and sage folks here become the way they are with no credible explanation as to how they become that way. They just are. In other words, they come off as really contrived - means to promote agendas rather than characters.
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