Reviewed by Helyce
Jasper Randolph has had a tough life for a few years. After his brother’s accident and his father’s death, he had to put his dreams on hold to take care of his mother and brother by taking a job at his uncle’s brokerage firm. While he is successful at it and the money allowed him to afford the care necessary to keep his paralyzed brother comfortable, he pretty much hates every minute of it. If that wasn’t enough, after his brother’s death, his mother succumbed to Alzheimer’s and required supervised care herself. With his mother settled in a home, he finally allows himself to take a long overdue vacation and decides to go to a dude ranch of sorts in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He’s determined to let loose, get dirty and shake some of the demons of his past, including getting back on a horse.
Jasper didn’t count on meeting Calum, the ranch owner’s son. From the minute they meet, their chemistry is undeniable. Unfortunately, these two are faced with many obstacles, namely Calum’s dad’s who refuses to accept his son’s sexuality. In a town where being different is frowned upon, Jasper and Calum try really hard to keep their attraction for each other to themselves-not an easy task. In fact, it becomes obvious that someone knows about them and is trying their best to break them up when Jasper is seriously injured. Jasper and Calum seem perfect for each other, but family obligations and the miles of ocean between London and Wyoming threaten to keep them apart.
I really liked this story with its opposites attract theme. When Jasper arrives in Wyoming he just oozes uptight and snotty, but that could not be father from the truth. He’s really just a product of his life, forced to choose his family over his dreams, not really being free to explore his life and just be himself. His determination to overcome his fear of riding a horse is heartbreaking. His brother became paralyzed after being thrown and if that wasn’t enough, both his parents seemed to wish that he’d been the one that was injured and not his brother. A horrible thing to live with in and of itself, but he did not ignore the need to support his family after his father’s death. He sacrificed a lot, even though it was never appreciated.
Calum is your typical hot cowboy: jeans, flannel shirts, cowboy hat, boots and killer body. The economy forced the family to turn the ranch into a resort of sorts, catering to city people who want the ranch experience with all the comforts of home. Not Calum’s first choice, but it keeps the ranch in the black while still allowing him to do what he loves. But being gay in Wyoming is not an easy thing and has hurt his relationship with his father who refuses to accept Calum’s sexuality. When Calum and Jasper meet, their attraction is obvious to everyone and while they know they need to be careful, it doesn’t stop them from getting to know each other. They realize quickly that their attraction is not just physical and their hearts get involved pretty quickly.
I really enjoyed the relationship part of this story. Getting to know Calum and Jasper and getting their back story is done really well and their falling in love feels good and right even with all the odds against them. While we learn a lot about Jasper right away, Calum also has something huge to overcome as well, making him just as tortured as Jasper but in a much darker way. When the conflict is introduced initially, Jasper being the subject of someone’s hate where he is hurt numerous times in what appear to be accidents, I suspected someone else was involved, but I was so wrong. When Jasper is beaten and left for dead, I understood why and where the author was going, but it was still a really difficult part of the story for me. It was a true hate crime, even though the reasons behind it really had less to do with Jasper or Calum being gay.
My favorite part of the story is toward the end, and while I’d love to share it, it would be much too spoilerish. I will say that it takes place in London, once Jasper goes home and takes a really hard look at his life as he contemplates some life changing decisions. I adored one of the secondary characters, Fintan Dorian, an art gallery owner in London and a friend of Jasper’s. He provided a small bit of humor which was really needed after some of the dark content and I loved how the author showed another side of Calum in the use of his sculptures here.
Cowboys Down is a really nice love story between two men who meet by chance, suffer through so much, while at the same time getting to know their true selves, maybe for the first time in the process.
I had a hard time with the fact that Jasper, as a guest of the ranch, suffered numerous attacks and was so obviously the subject of someone’s wrath and that it was not taken seriously and kind of brushed under the rug. This was a bit unrealistic to me and did not sit well. Calum and Jasper were fun to get to know and I did enjoy their story.