Bareback by Chris Owen

Posted by Teddypig on May 7, 2019 in 1 Oogie, Book Reviews, Genre: Contemporary

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Bareback by Chris Owen
Bareback by Chris Owen

Torquere Press, $6.95, ISBN 0-9748202-6-1
Contemporary Romance, 2003

Warning! Major spoilers are revealed in this review!

Ranch manager Jake Taggart, after two years of working together, against his better judgment of fucking around with someone who works for him, starts a relationship with cowboy Mark Flynn (aka Tornado or Tor).

What can I say about a book that for 26 chapters gives you a sweet gentle gay cowboy romance… and then keeps going despite the fact the arc is complete and the characters are getting their HEA and by Chapter 35 knifes you in the stomach with a scene that anyone with half a brain would walk away from silently and never, ever, want to talk to the guy who betrayed him so thoroughly, so personally, so tragically? How would you have the guts to ever label the damn book a gay romance after destroying the romance?

I don’t have that nerve to do that to anyone. I have absolutely no problems in saying that the first 26 chapters I was reading a decent gay romance with a few problems. Love scenes that were slammed into the story in single sentence rapid fire sequences like:

“Fuck. Tor, please. Need you. Need to feel.”

These are not only awkward to read, but it was the only way that Chris Owen could write a man on man sex scene, and let’s face the fact that after a while it just gets bland and boring because it all comes out like BA Tortuga cut-and-paste sex.

But I found enough meat between these sex scenes to see a love growing between two hard headed manly man characters that were interested in having something more meaningful.

After Chapter 26 the romance dies. The chapters get spliced and diced with silly things like headings of Winter, Spring, Fall, Summer and short little nonsense scenes that do nothing to forward the growth of the relationship, and simply seem to be there to provide fluff and filler to show they had done something for two years.

Then Chris Owen suddenly wants the ongoing relationship to get REAL dramatic so she has Tor fuck around on Jake. Now this would not have been a problem in a certain sense because early in the relationship in Chapter 4 she has this foursome sex scene where Jake watches Tor getting fucked by some other guys. So there was groundwork there for implying Tor likes to mess around with a little strange, every now and then, and Jake did not seem to mind at the time.

Unfortunately the author has a scene much later at an auction where Jake sees Tor flirting with another cowboy and he clearly put his foot down and sets down some “limits” and “boundaries” in regards to how he wants a relationship with Tor.

Jake then tells Tor, with good reason, not to fuck around with the help on the ranch because they have to ALL work together and he implies that his relationship with Tor was a total exception to this rule.

The biggest problem I had was that these were some of the few scenes that actually stand out among the ongoing sex and show them defining their relationship, so they were very clear in my mind when Tor did what he did.

So this final scene – for me it was the final scene for the whole book – is the ultimate betrayal a gay guy can do to another in any relationship. It is not a mistake, like the author wants to write it, that Tor made, as she never shows us any deep personal conversations that imply clearly the relationship is in trouble bad enough to justify Tor’s drastic actions. Tor’s point of view is never fully represented enough to not see him as a immoral flaming asshole that took Jake’s heart and purposefully ripped it all into little pieces for no good reason.

I personally felt she slammed this tragedy into place and barely did anything to couch it in any way to make it work in a romance story.

This is only on Chapter 37 and this books goes on and on and on till Chapter 50. I am so done by this point. It is all over for me.

I feel sorry for Jake that things got this bad but I HATE Tor so much I cannot ever want them together again. Tor BETRAYED Jake’s TRUST. Professionally, because Jake told him not to fuck around with the help. Personally, because Tor never came to Jake complaining about whatever it was that was failing in their relationship that he might be unhappy or unsatisfied or felt unloved. Then Tor goes further than that and betrays Jake sexually; because he was fucking around for two months and there was no mention of condom use and there was no scene that showed what the hell Tor was saying to Travis (Since a one time suck or fuck, sure, but what would be said to make a guy think he would not get fired for keeping it going with Tor like that? Who else got BETRAYED?) and Tor let Travis fuck him. An explicit sexual boundary that Jake stated clearly, DO NOT DO THAT. For a relationship, that in this book consisted mostly of sex scenes, I do not know how much more Tor could have said “fuck you” to Jake or Travis for that matter. USER!

Chris Owen tries to save all this crap by showing this totally uncharacteristic , for this book, deeply personal conversation between the most stoic cowboy in the story Jake and a mutual friend of theirs called Hound. Hound accuses Jake of letting Tor go because of pride? Wow, that’s a big old “no” Chris Owen, no no no you do not seem to understand what you or Tor did to Jake.

There simply was nothing left between them that Tor could possibly BETRAY. No emotional blow that could cut Jake deeper. The relationship and the love was over because there could never again be TRUST. The fact Chris throws this surprisingly uncharacteristic private conversation in the book after all the fluff and filler we had to read through representing two years of their actual relationship shows to me she knows she did something that cannot be fixed by any amount of bad sex scenes.

Tor knew what he was doing and he knew Jake would figure it out, he knew that he and Travis would get fired, he knew what he did would destroy their relationship and probably even knew it would make Jake start drinking and put Jake in serious mental and emotional jeopardy. This is so OVER!

The fact you kept writing this story after destroying Jake’s trust with so much unspoken hate, it totally blows my mind.

F is for going way too far. F is for carelessly throwing infidelity into a story you want to sell as a romance no matter how tragic and painful it is to the characters but also to the readers who trusted you. F is for blatantly attempting to rip off Brokeback Mountain in spirit and totally missing the part where no matter how over they said they were with each other they never betrayed their love. F is for just not getting what Romance is about.

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