Author: Dylan James
Publisher: Deep Hearts YA
Release Date: August 8, 2019
Genre(s): Young Adult M/M, Adventure
Page Count: 140
Reviewed by: CrabbyPatty
Heat Level: 1 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Grant Peters is sixteen and wants nothing more than to just compete in calf roping at rodeos and keep winning gold. But there are two obstacles in his path.
The first is Logan Summers, also sixteen, and also into calf roping. Logan is Grant’s only real competition and every time Logan wins, he gives Grant a smug little smirk that sets Grant’s blood boiling. Deep inside, though, Grant knows that his hostility toward Logan is about more than that smirk; it’s about feelings he’s not ready to acknowledge.
The second is Grant’s parents being close to selling the family ranch and moving to the city, away from rodeo, and away from his horse, Thunder.
So when Grant discovers evidence of a deadly cougar stalking the ranch, he decides to take it upon himself to hunt down what would undoubtedly kill the little business his family has left if word got out. Of course, as soon as he sets off into the woods, he runs into Logan, who is undertaking the same hunt to save his own family’s ranch.
Now, these two teenage rodeo nemeses have to overcome their hatred for each other and their uncertainty about themselves if they have any hope of coming together to save their families’ businesses.
I don’t read much YA, but I really enjoyed this novella about two young men who work together to solve the mystery of cougar attacks on their neighboring ranches, and discover they share something more than a love of rodeo.
Logan and Grant live on neighboring ranches and compete in calf roping, with Grant disliking Logan for his skill, while Logan really likes Grant and wants to become his friend. The author does a good job of putting us in that mindset of teenagers who cannot find the words to get past their fear, and in this case, it is coupled with Grant’s growing realization that he is not straight. His beloved horse Thunder is the only one who knows of Grant’s feelings:
Those stirrings I’d wanted so desparately to ignore just seemed to intensify. I squeezed my eyes shut and tried to will it all away. It was bad enough that I had those kind of feelings, but to have them for Logan? I just wanted it to all go away so I could just be normal. I wanted to go back to simply just hating Logan.
The author also really tunes into how denying true feelings creates so much self-hate and hatred for others: “I despised Logan and wanted to push him away and tell him to eff off … but part of me wanted to close the last of that gap between us. And that made me hate Logan even more, for triggering this …. this thing inside me that reacts to guys like him. This thing that wants to get closer to guys like him.”
The plot draws us into a crazy tale of corporate misdeeds and near death situations, but at the core is a story of two boys who quickly grow to trust one another, draw strength in their darkest hours and earn the chance for their fledging young love to grow and strengthen. 4 stars for “Thunder.”
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