Reviewed by Donna
TITLE: The Rodeo Mate
SERIES: Sam’s Cafe Romances #3
AUTHOR: Ashavan Doyon
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
LENGTH: 117 Pages
RELEASE DATE: November 30, 2016
Struck by amnesia after a car crash, Brian Stouten has been living a life laid out by his family, a heterosexual life that just doesn’t fit. When he learns it was all a lie, he returns to the small college town that’s his only clue to his past. But the town is still unfamiliar, and the man he’d hoped would make all his memories return is on a honeymoon with another man. To add insult to injury, everyone thinks Brian died in the crash. It’s only when an out-of-place cowboy asks to bum a smoke that Brian realizes this trip was meant to be.
Sylvester Thomas has always fought a secret desire, and done it successfully. But when geeky Brian offers him a smoke and a light, a simple brush of hands has Sylvester’s hidden passions burning deep. Did he make a mistake letting Brian walk away?
As soon as I read the blurb for this book I just had to rush to Facebook and send the author a message. Brian was still alive?? WTF? How was that possible? Why was he missing for so long? What would this mean for Russ and Justin (previous books)? There was only one course of action I could see to take. I needed to get the review copy of that book so I didn’t have to wait until the release date.
For readers of this series, the name Brian is instantly recognizable. Brian was the deceased husband of Russell, one of the main characters of the first two books, who was struggling to overcome his grief while simultaneously falling in love with Justin. So I was kind of torn over the return of Brian. Justin and Russell fought hard for their happy ending and I was rather attached to both of those characters. Now Brian’s resurrection was sure to throw a spanner in those works. But at the same time, Russell spoke about Brian with such love that the thought that Brian could also be happy again was a tempting thought. Plus, how interesting must his story be, to explain the fact that he’s been missing for years!?
Well, I went through a whole gamut of emotions while reading Brian’s story. Firstly, there was anger. What the hell was wrong with his family! Faking your amnesiac gay son’s death and setting him up with a fake wife? It made for a fabulous story line, but the scariest thing is that you could imagine some homophobic parents actually giving it a shot. I hated those people with a fiery passion from the first page, for all that they were only actually given page time during flashback thoughts.
There was also a lot of wariness on my part. I did not feel comfortable with the scenes including Justin and Russ. Justin is probably my favourite character from all three of these books and the emotional conflict that this caused for him wasn’t easy to read. And while I understood that Brian pushed Russ away mainly for Justin’s sake, Brian’s apparently callous treatment of the man who was once his husband was also a little hard to take. Having said that, I don’t see either of those things as negatives but rather facets of the story that got a definite reaction from me. I believe I’ve mentioned in a previous review that this author is brilliant at writing about grief, and although nobody actually dies in this book, the emotion is surely present.
I also enjoyed reading about the new relationship that developed between Brian and Sylvester. Sylvester, for all of his own issues, somehow lightened up the heaviness of this story for me.
Can it be read as a standalone? Yes, I would say definitely. In fact I wonder if I would have enjoyed it even more if I hadn’t had my own preconceived ideas about how I’d like a reunion between Russ and Brian to play out. However, if you intend to read this whole series I would recommend that the first novella be read before the second book.