Title: The CEO and the Cowboy
Author: Starla Kaye
Pages: 34 pages
Characters: Daniel (the CEO) and Cordell (the Cowboy)
SubGenre: GLBT: contemporary, first gay experience, minor dom/sub
Publisher: Decadent Publishing
Rating: 2.5 kisses
The whole thing about relationships and feelings confuses the heck out of Calhoun. He’s a simple cowboy and he’d been planning to marry a long-time friend for a while. When he finally realizes it doesn’t feel right, he lets her go. He probably shouldn’t have gone to her wedding to another man, but she wanted him there. But that’s when he really gets confused. His eye is drawn to a seriously hot businessman…and that sure does unnerve him…and yet….
Emotionally burned by the last man he thought he’d loved, Daniel isn’t anxious to replace him. But there is something about the proud, bedroom-eyed cowboy who shows up at his friend’s wedding. The CEO isn’t even sure if the cowboy’s gay, although the heat firing between them makes him wonder….
What he does know is that he plans to find out.
The CEO and the Cowboy by Starla Kaye is about two men cut from the same fabric in some senses and from different planets in other ways. Daniel is a CEO, lives in an upscale home, runs a company, has plenty of money, and ended a relationship recently. Calhoun was engaged to be married, lives on a ranch, and has never been with a man before. Add to the mix that both men are dominant A-Type personalities, and you have the makings for a very interesting pairing.
In the first few pages, Ms. Kaye paints a vivid picture of Cordell Calhoun, the man who’d been engaged to Kathleen. We meet him at Kathleen’s wedding to another man and see how difficult it is for him to be there. Despite the fact he loves his ex-fiancé, he knows he can’t love her in the way she deserves. In those opening moments, Calhoun was firmly established as honorable and brave. I was curious why he couldn’t be with Kathleen, but given the genre of the story, I had my suspicions.
The initial set up of the story gripped me. Once the two main characters met, the story lost the emotional punch and the authenticity built up in the first few pages. There were a few things which distracted me from focusing on the development of Calhoun and Daniel’s relationship.
Daniel fell hard and fast, going right to the L-word. On the other hand, Cordell was internally resistant, surprised by his intrigue in being with another man sexually. I’d suspected the reason he couldn’t be with Kathleen was because he realized he was gay, but his surprise at his feelings for Daniel suggests he wasn’t concretely aware of his sexuality at the time of cancelling the wedding plans. I wanted an explanation, some internal dialogue or a conversation with Daniel to help me understand him better, but that explanation never came.
At one point, Calhoun freaks out and breaks things off with Daniel, and although Daniel is heart-broken, his reaction and the events which follow as the couple reunite occurred in the absence of a strong initial foundation between the two men. While I enjoyed the sexual chemistry and actions between the men, I did not feel emotionally invested in their successful union.
Toward the end of the story, a new dom/sub twist is introduced which was handled in an interesting manner. Both Daniel and Calhoun are dominant personalities, so when Calhoun has to take the submissive role in order to make amends for running away, Ms. Kaye does a wonderful job of getting inside his head, showing the reader his internal struggle as he attempts to strike a balance between his instinct to dominate and his choice to submit.
Overall, I believe this story had a great deal of unrealized potential. There were opportunities for emotions to become highly strained and transparent and for the sex to sizzle as experienced for the first time through the mind of a man discovering his sexuality and the pain and pleasure that is man-on-man sex.
Reviewed by Doug