Friday, March 3, 2017

Camouflage by Jon Keys

Nash Gallo and Luke Meyers seem like complete opposites on the surface. Nash is a city boy from Atlanta, while Luke is a rancher from rural Oklahoma. Nash is covered in tattoos and piercings, while Luke is self-conscious about his muscular, hairy body. Luke doesn’t have much sexual experience with other men, while Nash has plenty to go around.

But both men are lonely, and neither of them has ever been in love.

They also both have secrets. For Luke, it’s his shame over an affair with a local closeted and married man, something Nash accepts. Will Luke be as tolerant of what Nash is hiding—his job as a prostitute back in Georgia?

A week-long vacation on Luke’s ranch and the idyllic landscapes surrounding it gives both men the chance to relax and explore the attraction growing between them. But can the budding relationship survive secrets and small-town prejudices? As they search for the place where their lives might intersect, Nash and Luke risk far worse than broken hearts.

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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

3.5 stars

As hinted in the first chapter, this is a contemporary twist on the Pretty Woman story. Nash, a homeless rent boy working in inner city Atlanta, takes a break from his life when he visits an online friend on his Oklahoma ranch. Luke, an isolated cowboy, welcomes his online friend, Nash, to his ranch for a vacation. The two men find more in common than either anticipated and their friendship quickly turns to romance.

I liked both Nash and Luke. Their back stories are complex and difficult and I enjoyed the electric connection between two very different men. Nash adjusts to life on a ranch quickly and he seems to fit seamlessly into Luke’s life. I was hoping to see more of Nash’s world at the end, but this story is firmly set in Oklahoma. The slow pace of life on Luke’s ranch made this story drag slightly in parts – but the sex between these two is steamy and inventive – there might be enough sex in this story to push it into erotica territory.

Conflict between Nash and Luke centres around Nash keeping his job and his past secret from Luke. There didn’t seem to be any need for the secret and the fallout seemed overblown. I also struggled with the ending. After a relatively slow and gentle romance, two action storylines are thrown into the mix at about 80%. It all felt a bit odd to me.

As a European reader, the open homophobia in Luke’s town feels incredibly dated – but the current American politics on the news also feel backwards in the 21st century so I’m not too sure how much of the homophobic conflict is realistic and how much has been conjured for effect. The characters in this story are black and white and the baddies are immediately recognisable and instantly unsympathetic, which makes for a simple and slightly underdeveloped plot.

So, this is a slow and gentle romance that is also pretty steamy. The conflict didn’t quite work for me, but I enjoyed the two leading men.

JON KEYS’s earliest memories revolve around books. Either read to him or making up stories based on the illustrations, these were places his active mind occupied. As he got older, the selection expanded beyond Mother Goose and Dr. Seuss to the world of westerns, science fiction, and fantasy. His world filled with dragon riders, mind-speaking horses, and comic book heroes in hot uniforms.

A voracious reader for half a century, Jon recently began creating his own fiction. The first writing was his attempt at showing rural characters in a more sympathetic light. Now he has moved into some of the writing he lost himself in for so many years—fantasy. Jon has worked as a ranch hand, teacher, computer tech, roughneck, designer, retail clerk, welder, artist, and, yes, pool boy; with interests ranging from kayaking and hunting to drawing and cooking, he uses this range of life experiences to create written works that draw the reader in and wrap them in a good story.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Camouflage by Jon Keys to read and review.

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