Drawing the Devil by Jon Keys

Drawing the Devil by Jon Keys
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (145 pgs)
Other: M/M, anal sex
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Cactus

A heart can live a lifetime in eight seconds.

Ever since his father caught him with another boy and threw him out at the tender age of sixteen, Dustin Lewis has been fighting his way up the national bull-riding rankings. He’s on the brink of qualifying for the National Finals when he draws Diablo, a notoriously rank bull—and the ride goes bad.

When bullfighter Shane Rees frees Dustin from the rigging of the same bull that nearly destroyed his face, he comes dangerously close to dropping his guard. Shane knows the potential consequences of being gay in a sport loaded with testosterone-overdosed cowboys, and the resulting scars of mind and body have left him with little self-worth.

Their near-death-by-bull first meeting sparks an attraction that awakens every last one of their personal demons. Yet as the National Finals draws closer, so do they. But they’ll have to overcome emotional highs, near-tragic lows, and bone-crushing danger before love can bust out of the chute.

Dustin didn’t know that a few seconds on a hellish bull would change his life. Drawing the bull Diablo was not in Dustin’s plans but he tried to make the best of it for his last ride in the rodeo. He barely survived with the help of a bullfighter, Shane. Shane is scarred from his last run-in with Diablo but soon discovers that his chemistry with Dustin is even more dangerous. The two men immediately hit it off but each have their own demons in the past they have to get through before they can truly be together.

Drawing the Devil is a somewhat classic gay cowboy story; two men in the heavily testosterone atmosphere of the rodeo trying to get away from their own pasts and current flaws to find a way to be together. While it probably shouldn’t matter, I find that male authors write very differently than female authors, especially in the gay romance genre. This isn’t a criticism but the language, tone, and feel of the books are very different. I could tell a man wrote DtD with the almost crude language used during the sex scenes. Again it’s not off-putting per se but simply about personal preference. I didn’t like the sex scenes, they felt vulgar with a down and dirty, almost porn kind of vibe. Lots of spit and holes and shoving. Likewise I found the characters very flat. I couldn’t connect with either one of them and didn’t really feel the chemistry and connection between them.

What really worked for the story was the authentic feel of the rodeo and supporting characters offered. I could imagine the scenes with the bulls and cowboys and almost taste the dirt that swirled when the bulls sped through the gate. The author has a real flair for description when it came to these scenes and I quite enjoyed them. I liked that characters were given more depth with their various issues. Between Shane’s scar, which really affected his entire outlook on life, and Dustin’s family past mixed with his ADD, these characters weren’t stereotypical. I didn’t really connect with them but I could appreciate the attempt at adding more depth and complexity to the classic cowboy character.

Overall Drawing the Devil worked for me in some areas and not in others. I found the relationship and sex scenes fell very flat for me but the rodeo setting really drew me in whenever my attention was flagging. I think this would appeal to readers that want a bit of a classic cowboy story but also enjoy the very male style of writing, especially during the graphic scenes. For the right reader I think this could be a real hit.

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