Series: Cowboys Don't #3
Author: Tara Lain
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Publication Date: May 14, 2019
Length: 229 pages
Reviewed by Sammy
Maury Garcia’s one of the greatest bull riders in the world—and one of the biggest liars. Can he turn forbidden love with a rodeo rookie into a lasting romance?
Ever since his brother was killed because he was gay, Maury’s worked to take his brother’s place as the bull rider, the provider, and the ideal of his family’s macho expectations. The only thing Maury’s ever done for himself is buy a secret ranch so he can get away from the responsibilities he’s chained himself to. Then he meets Tristão Silva, the younger brother of the one man who could rob Maury of his bull riding championship.
Tristão may be a world-class bull rider in his own right, but his kind, gentle nature and sexy samba hips make Maury long for something beyond his selfless, sexless life. The two men’s lives are worlds apart, even if they’re both buckling under family expectations. Will their future last beyond an eight-second ride?
Maury has been hiding all his life—mostly from himself. Not only does his family responsibilities keep him tied to a career he’s certain to have only a few more good years at but fear of how his family will react keeps him from admitting even to himself that he is gay. Then there’s the fact that there are very few gay bull riders on the circuit and the rare man, like his friend Danny, who does come out are the lucky ones. No, Maury will just have to continue the lonely life he has had since forever—at least that is his decision until he meets Tristao Silva, younger brother of his closest rival and a gorgeous man who immediately gets under Maury’s defenses. But even though Tristao has feelings for Maury as well, he knows he has little choice but to return home and marry the woman his grandfather and mother have chosen for him and take his place in his mother’s business empire. That means no more bull riding, no more Maury and no more dreaming of a life with the cowboy he loves. Maury and Tris are trapped and that means losing each other and the love they know is growing between them. Can two men give up everything, including the family they love, in order to be together?
Cowboys Don’t Samba is the third installment in Tara Lain’s Cowboys Don’t series and I think it is the best one to date. Although it is not without a few flaws, this story is a real page turner—keeping you on the edge of your seat to see just how far Maury is finally poised to go in order to put his own happiness first. Admitting he is gay is only the first step in a journey that could really end his career in the arena and lose him the family he has fought hard to support for so long. For poor Tristao, his life is virtually over before it’s begun. Bound by a family arranged marriage and a grandfather who enjoys manipulating the lives of his grandsons, it will take a miracle for him to ever be free to live the life he wants. These two men desperately want to be with each other but life and their families have other ideas.
The romance here was incredibly well done—the story was a slow burn with doubt and fear on both men’s parts surfacing more than anything else in the first half of the novel. But as frustrating as it was to watch Maury hold back or Tris be so uncertain, it was just as satisfying when they finally let go and let each other into their lives and hearts. While I appreciated the consistency of the religious lense through which most of the homophobic moments in this novel was filtered, I also felt that on occasion it might have been taken a bit too far. That idea coupled with the highly unbelievable 360 that Tristao’s grandfather does at the end of the novel made the story feel a bit forced at times. It was as if the author knew she needed to insert another stumbling block for Maury or Tris and so offered up more blatant homophobia as a catalyst. As far as the ending goes, I get wanting to create the best version of a happy ever after but there is a believable way to do that and I felt that could have been achieved without the grandfather acting so out of character.
Despite these few niggles, I still really enjoyed this book. The action was fast-paced and intense as was the development of the love between Tris and Maury. Cowboys Don’t Samba delivers a wonderful age gap romance that does not disappoint.
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