MLR Press, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-60820-594-3
Historical Fiction, 2012 (Reissue)
One day while working the roundup Les, a 40 year old trail boss of the Double H Ranch, and his friend Red watch a young drifter, Buck, ride up. The cowboys have no clue how much their lives are about to change.
They rode a ways in silence. Les wasn’t a talkative sort, but he was aware of the kid looking over at him often, and it made him feel a little uncomfortable, considering what he suspected might be on the boy’s mind. After a bit, thinking it would be safer, he stirred himself to make some conversation.
“Where’d you learn to ride the way you do?” he asked.
Buck shrugged. “Indian blood, I guess,” he said, and then added, “If I was to tell you the truth, it’s this here pony more than it is me. He is the smartest horse I ever did see.” He patted the pony’s long neck affectionately.
“He’s a good horse, I can see that,” Les said. One thing every cowboy respected was a man who knew his horses. For most cowboys, his horse was his best friend. “I reckon you know how to ride him well enough, though.”
Buck accepted the compliment with a nod and an embarrassed smile, but he was pleased by it. He did not figure Les was a man given to flattery. “That’s a handsome palomino you got there, too,” he said.
“Yep. He is a pretty good one, old Silver.” Les glanced over and saw the boy looking at him funny like. “What are you thinking?” he asked, suspicious.
“I was just thinking, as long as we are comparing what we got, how about if…?”
“Don’t even finish saying it, boy,” Les said, frowning. He ought to have known, he thought, aggravated again.
I always remember when reading Victor J Banis that he came from a generation earlier and has a more pulp style of writing from during those bad hair days of the 60’s. I pay him about the same respects I give say a Zane Grey for founding the type of gay erotic romance you read these days. Since his were some of the first books you could buy way back when. Now I myself don’t go that far back but I admit I was reading Victor’s books along with James Barr, Gordon Merrick, and Patricia Nell Warren when I was in high school searching for gay lit at the local library.
I was surprised to see this one sitting on the shelf over at A Different Light here in San Francisco. I thought maybe they had started re-publishing his older works, which they have, but to my surprise this was actually written fairly recently.
I love it! We are not talking Brokeback Mountain here, this is more along the lines of say Gunsmoke or Big Valley with the whole TV serialized Western feel. It’s got more the rough and tumble, stoic type cowboys with less “Chris Owen” soap opera going on and more sweat and blood and flying fists. Which is always a bit more of a realistic approach since I for one do not think cowboys saw a lot of soap or opera or spent much time pouting over their love lives for that matter.
So Buck is the young whipper snapper hot after some older ranch boss ass in this story and he makes his lewd highly suggestive intentions pretty dang clear to the old cowboy early on. The constant remarks and innuendos do not let up and more than one scene has them playing verbal tennis with each other over when and where Les will finally give in and give Buck the ride he is gunning for. I can see that this might get a bit tiresome for some readers but that constant banter is the whole point. Buck is wearing down our stoic Les and working on getting himself into the mans bed roll one way or another.
Now Les does not take kindly to all this unwanted attention and they do come to physical blows over it all eventually. But that’s just real, and no one ever said real cowboy love is pretty. It’s not like they have douche kits and handi-wipes out there.
Excuse me as I ramble here… this morning in my hungover “Oscar Night” state I was watching Jeff Bezos showing off his brand new Kindle 2 on The Today Show. It’s coming out today for all you non-techies. Funny how no one talks about or even cares about Sony. I don’t think Sony is gonna win this battle of hype and marketing. Especially when people realize that with the Stanza Desktop Program (yeah the same people who brought you that iPhone App) and a Mac you can instantly convert other non-DRM eBook formats and load them right on your Kindle to your hearts content natively from your Mac.
I noted Longhorns also just came out on the Amazon Kindle eBook Format ONLY and I just had to let you guys know about that one. Because I think we have a trend here. Small traditional indie trade pubs are going for the Kindle format and Whispernet to fulfill their eBook selling needs. Now there is something to keep an eye on.
I am not saying this is good or bad for eBooks or ePublishing, but for authors, I got to say it must be dang nice to have all your eBooks and your “traditionally published” paperbacks all listed and readily available in one nifty-neat sales list on the Kindle to be bought and downloaded in seconds. Convenience sales and a built in avid reading audience is dreamy.
Back to the book review at hand though… Longhorns is a cute story even if the sex scenes are not what I think of as perfect, much like Victor’s sex scenes he wrote in the 60’s. I do think in regards to the style of this being a Western it sort of works. Hey, you cannot always teach an old dog new tricks especially when they were more likely to put him in jail back then for getting too sexually descriptive and all that. I figure he might even loosen up a bit eventually.
But… this old dog sure knows how to write a big burly cowboy that just might give another cowboy a kiss and a whole lot more eventually in a heart warming yet very masculine way right after beating his brains out and leaving him there bleeding in the dirt, hell, he probably does not smell all that purty if you get too close either but that’s just real cowboy love again.
I’m giving Victor a solid B and hoping he writes another real quick like. Zane Grey spewed out something like 90 pulp Westerns in his lifetime, so I figure another 20 books about gay masculine cowboys of few words but deep passions and Victor will be golden and by then he might actually get the sex cooking at the right temperature.