Dutch’s Boy by Xavier Axelson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I picked this wild west story due to the publisher, Seventh Window Publications, but sadly it didn’t that well for me. The setting seems to blend historical and contemporary times while offering a lot of sex scenes between metaphors about finding yourself. The message isn’t bad but it’s also obvious with easy resolutions everywhere. The initial concepts are intriguing but the writing is basic and the characters aren’t given enough depth and interest to really make this sing for me.
Harry is the son of a well known rodeo personality, Dutch. Dutch doesn’t want his son out on the rodeo, he wants him at home taking care of the land and family that Dutch is too busy to take care of himself. Harry is intimidated by his semi-famous father but finally gathers his courage to run off to the rodeo on his own. At the same time Harry is discovering his sexuality and attraction to long time friend Reb but must first face the specter of his father to really attain his dream.
The plot is pretty basic and well known. A young man must break away from a controlling father to really live his dream in the rodeo. It’s not a bad thing that it’s a well used and known plot but unfortunately the story offers very little fresh or new perspectives. The added element of Harry exploring his sexuality should have added depth to the narrative but instead becomes an excuse for several sex scenes that add very little to the plot or character development. These scenes again aren’t necessarily bad but they don’t really add much to the story in general, other than the heat level which is likely to please readers. Harry doesn’t struggle with his sexuality but instead laconically accepts his desires and seeks outlets to explore.
The characters are decent but never stray from their predictable boxes. Harry’s father Dutch is the classic controlling father but his total reversal at the end of the story makes little to no sense. It’s a nice resolution but annoying in its predictability given that it doesn’t fit the characterization up until that point. It’s an easy solution to wrap up the problems but not really true to the story or characters. Likewise the magical moment with the horse makes for a nice metaphor about Harry finding himself and achieving his dream but it comes across as slightly corny and hokey for me. I wanted to really appreciate the point but the writing never offers the subtly and depth that would accomplish that.
The setting is a combination between historic and contemporary. I’m not sure why someone would be taking a train to the rodeo and worried about their guns so I thought it was a historical but it’s clearly a contemporary story so the blending of the setting gives a confused air. I’m not entirely sure what the point of this was other than to reinforce the western feel to the story. The descriptions of the rodeo, horses, and love of the land certainly come through and the romance between Reb and Harry, while easy, is a nice touch to the story. There’s no doubt their commitment is real and strong and together they’re likely to last. I wish the story would have expanded on their connection as it really makes reading this entertaining and more interesting than the plot about Harry and his father.
Overall I’d recommend this to horse/wild west readers that like a lot of sex to their western stories. The issues with the plot may not bother some readers who are looking for a light, easy, forgettable read heavy on the erotica. There’s potential here but the writing lets it down for me unfortunately. As always other readers’ opinions vary so decide for yourself.