Calico - Dorien Grey
This is a very good Western, written in the true spirit of the West. Whether I would class it as a gay novel is another matter. Sure the two lead characters, 27 year old cowboy Calico and 17 year old city boy Josh fall in love, but their love is more spiritual that physical in any sense. They kiss once in the whole novel, and then itís more a quick kiss of reassurance than anything sexual. I donít need sex in a novel to enjoy it, but I do need to be convinced that these are adult emotions, affecting what the characters do. I didnít get this with this novel. Iíd be happy for even my youngest children to read this, which is an indication of just how detatched I was with it.
Calico is a ranch hand, adopted by ďUncle DanĒ, a man who finds him the only sole survivor of a massacred wagon train. Years later, Uncle Dan discovers that he is has been left the twin grandchildren of his brotherís daughter, 17 year old Josh and Sarah. Before Dan can bring them to the ranch, he is murdered, and Calico decides to meet them off the train and take them to their auntís in Colorado.
There are sinister forces surrounding the twins. Their parents died in a mysterious fire. Who is this menacing aunt figure? Calicoís life is threatened many times before he can solve the mystery. Along the way, he acknowledges his feelings for Josh, which are returned.
In a very minor way, this book reminded me of the Dakota series (well, itís a Western, so thatís kind of a given). Interestingly, Josh the city boy is more aware of his homosexuality than Calico the cowboy. I almost expected him to actually use the word, just like Bennie does with Dakota. In all major ways, however, it didnít match the Dakota series at all. It was just too virginal and sweet for me, too much cowboy action (which I might have enjoyed many, many years ago) and not enough gay action (well, none, really). Of course, this absence may be particularly noticeable because Iím also reading Danny. Iím on the four-hundredth sex scene and countingÖ.
Sweet, great cowboy detail, some minor gay interest, but didnít rock my world.
I stumbled across this e-book I was excited.† There arenít many gay Westerns
and itís been a while.† Well, the Western-themed mystery story is more
appropriate for Young Adults or a gentle introduction to the genre for
the slash virgin.† Definitely not up to the standard of Bareback
and not just because thereís no sex.
The story opens with a dramatic shoot-out in town.† Calico saves the lives of twins Josh & Sarah, then the narrative flashes back to tell us how they got there, eventually coming full circle, before the mystery plot is finally resolved.† Someone wants either Calico or the twins dead, but the cowboy has no idea why.† He thinks it has something to do with the deaths of their wealthy parents in Chicago.
Calico & Josh have an instant attraction.† Itís the youth who makes all the moves, confident he knows what he's doing,.† Calico, who admits heís always had these feelings around men, and has no interest in women, has never done anything about it.† Thrown together, in danger of their lives, they share a bed on nights they spend in a hotel and Josh makes sure heís bedded down close-by under the stars.† But Calico resolutely refuses to do more than kiss the boy.† Though he wants to.† Itís not just that Josh is only 17 till the storyís almost done.† Calico canít allow desire to distract from the business of keeping them all alive.† So a love story, yes, but a very chaste and frustrating one.
Calico is an interesting character.† Rescued from a burnt out wagon train, left behind by Indians terrified of his different coloured eyes, he grows up on a ranch surrounded by men yet never does anything about his attraction.† Quite a contrast to Dakota!† Josh & Sarah quickly suss out where his inclinations lie, and another man they meet who helps them out takes Calico aside for a heart-to-heart, reassuring him that his relationship with Josh is no more wrong than him wanting Sarah.†
Itís an okay read, but rather lightweight.† Plenty of action but not a lot more.†† Particularly disappointing is the abrupt ending, just when you think, finally, our reward for all those times Calico says they canít act on their desire, promising lots of fun ahead.† So, unrealised potential and no pay-off.† Disappointing.†
Calico is an e-book available on the author's site. Click on www.doriengrey.net; click on the link to books by the author, then scroll down to Calico and click on "read chapter one". That page will then give you order details.