Samhain Publishing, $3.50, ISBN 1-60504-259-5
Contemporary Romance, 2008
Bound by Love has gay cowboys, the most literate types who speak as if they are guests on Oprah’s talk show, in a plot that is pretty much a dead horse by now. Tyler Newsome picks his father over his twin brother – eeuw, not in that manner, people! – and opts to return to the family ranch of Lazy N to pick up the pieces with his father and discover himself. He’s gay, but he hasn’t come out to his father yet when this story begins. Of course, we all know by now how every two in three cowboys are yearning to make it with another cowboy, so there is a gay hunk waiting in the wings – Ren Alston.
Poor Tyler has issues in that for some reason he has been content to be his twin brother JT’s doormat until he decides to return to the ranch. Poor Tyler knows that Ren had slept with Tyler’s twin brother (both the Newsome siblings are gay) so he is now feeling most insecure. What man would want him after he’s had JT? Meanwhile, Ren has his own issues too. A former soldier, Ren has that shaky-shaky-sweat-sweat thing after his stint in Bosnia. He and his brothers, all ex-soldiers, have different types of PTSD reactions, kinda like how the X-Men have different powers. Given that everyone speaks in the same way and come off like the same person in this story, such distinctions are very much needed to help me tell them apart.
The characters in this story are disappointingly one-dimensional. JT is a selfish fellow, Tyler is a doormat who knows what he is getting into but goes ahead and lie down on the floor anyway, and Ren is the Big Daddy Boyfriend archetype. The characters could have been developed a little bit more, especially when it comes to Tyler whose motivations when it comes to dealing with his twin brother are all over the place. Tyler knows that JT is a selfish bastard, but he allows himself to be manipulated by JT anyway. Why? Is this because Tyler for some reason believes that he can’t compare to JT? But why would he believe this way if he is aware of JT’s flaws? Does he believe that men in general enjoy being with a selfish turd? Tyler is a confusing character – the only thing certain about him is that he enjoys being the passive victim in this story. It’s obvious to me that the only true obstacle to his happily ever after is his own victim complex, which makes Tyler a frustrating character to follow.
But if you enjoy reading about characters who speak in the same heavy-handed manner with a tendency to give overblown speeches about their emotions and epiphanies, this one has plenty of that, maybe enough to compensate for the story’s utter flatness.