Dealing Straight
by Emily Veinglory, historical (2005)
Loose Id, $3.99, ISBN 1-59632-149-0

Dealing Straight delivers what those old cowboy movies featuring oh-so rugged men in tight jeans vowing brotherhood forever and how no women can tear them apart only hint at: hot consummation of the love that cannot be spoken aloud.

Richard is a townie, the son of a Bostonian banker, but currently he's playing marked cards in seedy salons, hanging out with hunky sheriffs, and dodging bullets like the best of them. Our US Marshall hero Wayne Sneddon clearly has a thing for Richard but Richard is afraid to let their relationship move past platonic point because Richard has what seems like tuberculosis and he is wasting away as each day passes.

Richard can be a bit too self-pitying for me at times, but then again, he thinks he's dying and I suppose we are all allowed our indulgences when we believe we are living on borrowed time. He's still a brat at times though. Don't worry, people, he won't die in this story. This story is no Brokeback Mountain in that manner. Wayne is a straight-up good guy, probably too straight-up to the point of being a one-dimensional Captain America kind of character at times, but at the same time he's a good foil for Richard, and a likable character at that.

Dealing Straight has a hammy dime novel feel to the plot, which depends on the bad guys behaving stupidly as much as it relies on the heroes' skills to save the day. It may lack sophistication but the end result is nonetheless an enjoyable fast-paced and action-packed story. The characters are fine and so is their romance, and the plot is fine too. I just feel that the story lack that special something to make it more memorable. The characters often fall short of being memorable and the story likewise lacks that edge to make it one to remember. Still, this story is plenty of fun while it lasts and gay cowboys are always hot if you go for that kind of thing.

Rating: 82

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