Other Reviewers: Goodreads
This is an advance reader copy given to me by the author for an honest review. As with all of my review, these are my own opinions.
This is the first book of Rain Carrington that I have read, and I always enjoy the chance to find a new author. With this discovery, I now get to read all of the other books!
Ethan Kerr is on the run, from his past, as he hitch-hikes across the country to San Francisco to start a new life. Ethan is more of a lover than a fighter, moving from one night stand to another. He doesn’t believe in love or commitment. He finds himself in New Mexico and somehow gets a job at a bar called Honky Tonk. The owner, Hunter Westmore is silent, but intense, something that Ethan would love to conquer. But for some reason, Hunter eludes him. Can Ethan finally get his man, or will Hunter just keep their relationship “all business”?
When I started reading this book, I found Ethan annoying. The author spends the first 25% of the book letting get to know how “happy-go-lucky” he is when it comes to relationships and that is a self identified “slut”. What we learn as the book progresses is that there are reasons for his actions and Ethan has deeply held pain within that he hides with his “twinky” personality.
Frankly he didn’t see the difference as far as fidelity was concerned but who was he to judge? He’d had married, single, straight, and gay alike in his few years of being sexually active. One cock was a good as another as long as the bearer of it was decent to look at, had a fair bit of meat between his legs and knew how to use it.
So, Ethan is a bit of a kid. I like to think of him as in the “young and stupid” phase of life. I found his character obnoxious in the beginning, but really his character is the one that grows the most throughout the storyline.
Hunter is the “Hot Dark Male Dominant” that you see in most BDSM based romances. He is a successful businessman (he owns a ranch and the bar), who keeps his sexuality apart from his daily life. He has had no real relationships, mostly just using slaves from his club on occasion when he is out-of-town for work and pleasure. What we find in Hunter is similar in Ethan, he has never felt the need for monogamy in his life.
“He’s not regular people and I don’t care about gay or not, it’s your own business but what he is has no label.”
I found Hunter’s characterization lacking, in fact he does something around 75% of the book that I found difficult to forgive. I will talk about that later in this review.
For me, theme identification is the key to how I score a book. If I can not find a book that has a clear theme that drives the plot, then I tend to not like the book as much. In Honky Tonk, I found the theme easily:
There were tiny yellow wildflowers in small patches right next to small cactus plants. It was a contradiction to see them so close, a fine delicate thing living with something so rough and dangerous. He wondered if that is how Hunter saw the two of them. Some pretty boy next to his tough and hard self. Then he looked a little closer. One of the cactus plants had a beautiful maroon colored flower on it and the tiny yellow flowers had small but painful looking thorns. Maybe the two plants looked different but they were more alike than one could see at first glance.
This is actually some of the best writing in the novel. The problem with this type of theme however, is that it is about a couple as a relationship. Most of the plot then should revolve around internal conflict, rather than external. However, Honky Tonk also includes a plot-line for cattle mischief.
I have to say, that this novel has some of the most intense sex scenes that I read in a while. The added M/s dynamics enhances the scenes, giving us more than just a quick shag in the alleyway.
I also found the depiction of the BDSM lifestyle and Master/slave relationship dynamics accurate. There is a scene where Ethan and Hunter sit down and write out their contract, which is accurate and clearly done.
What could be better?
As you can tell, this book has a large BDSM and Master/slave component. However, in my mind, this novel is more of BDSM erotica, rather than a gay romance. While there is a side plot, it distracted me from the relationship. I think that the author should have either beefed up the cattle plot or focused more on the emotional relationship of Ethan and Hunter. Instead, we got a lot of sex scenes that tied together the cattle plot with the “mystery” solved in the last 10 % of the novel.
In the BDSM lifestyle, while a Master/slave can be a committed relationship like a vanilla might call Husband/wife, the relationship might never be a “true love” relationship. Honky Tonk provides the reader the latter relationship type. So, for someone who wants a “HEA” “true love” story, this is not for them. I found Ethan and Hunter’s relationship (despite the “I love you’s”) lacking emotional depth. What I would have preferred was not just hot kinky sex, but more depth on the power exchange aspect of the relationship. We could have seen some intensely emotional scenes where we see Ethan deal with his past and see how Hunter find Ethan to fulfill something that he has found lacking in his life before.
In fact, at about 75% Hunter did something that I found so out of place with the character we had seen up until that point that I was tempted to throw the book down. It being my iPad, I walked away instead.
After some time, I grudgingly accepted the fact that he acted along the contract they both signed, so technically he did not “cheat”. I just found the “conflict” the author put in the couple’s path either an excuse for “hot naughty sex” or Carrington wanted to reinforce the Master/slave dynamics for the reader.
However, what really drove the stars down for me was the confusing “suspense” aspect that came to a strange halt at the end (I am still not sure how Hunter “fixed” it at the end) and the editorial and typographical errors I found throughout the novel. The errors were not enough to ruin my enjoyment, but it did distract me.
Overall, I enjoyed reading the book. It provided me a look into how the Master/slave dynamic can work and it did it in a realistic manner. The sex scenes were very hot, especially if you like any type of BDSM actions. However, if you are looking for a soft, character driven gay romance, then perhaps look for another novel.
There is a second novel in this series, Honky Tonk: Coastal Cowboys, so perhaps some of the relationship issues will be explained then. If you like BDSM gay erotica, then I think this book is for you.