Eight Seconds by Barrie Abalard
Publisher: eXcessica Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance, M/M, GLBT, Western/Cowboys
Length: 52 pages
Ex-bareback rider and part-time songwriter Cam “The Professor” Chester rides pick-up for Philadelphia area rodeos—and rides the men he picks up in Philly’s gay bars. Hated by other rodeo folks, he’s alone in the showers one night when someone knocks him out.
Barebacker, bisexual Wyatt Knott has never met anyone like Cam and is instantly drawn to him. After Wyatt finds Cam unconscious on the shower floor, he goes home with the man to tend to his wound. Before you can say, “Ride ‘em, cowboy,” the two have sweaty, grasping sex in Cam’s recliner.
When Cam reports his attack in the showers to the rodeo’s owner, Shep Walton, Walton tells him nothing can be done because Cam doesn’t have any idea who hit him, and there were no witnesses. But by reporting the assault to Walton, Cam sets in motion a chain of events that will leave him drugged and bound in a chair, Wyatt standing next to him, with someone holding a revolver on them both.
EIGHT SECONDS, the length of time a barebacker must stay on his bronco, weaves the story of two men who’ve never been in love, yet find themselves unable to dismiss their passionate sex as a casual thing.
Eight Seconds – it's a long time when there's a bucking bronco underneath you. Barrie Abalard's cowboys are tough enough to stay in rodeo, even with a substantial anti-gay sentiment among their competition. Cam's been in rodeo long enough to "retire" to pick-up riding, and ornery enough to stay in the bigger circuits.
Cam's out enough that the more closeted Wyatt feels confident in approaching someone of near-legendary status for a night's pleasure. Whatever troubles he's had as a gay man in a tough sport, Cam doesn't plan to share with someone who's not committed to being out. There's some fine character aspects to both men, and the rodeo scenes are brightly alive and gritty.
There are some internal inconsistencies and character flaws that get in the way of enjoying this story. Thirty-six year old Cam's been bashed over the head hard enough to make him pass out and get a 3 Vicodin headache, but he can get off twice in quick succession. Cam goes from being completely unwilling to sleep in the same bed with his one night stand to such insta-love that he begs Wyatt to join him on another rodeo circuit, expenses paid, twenty four hours later. There just isn't any development to support this. Wyatt has his pride about accepting support, but a quick mention of a "Mr. Randy" sounds like it's a very flexible pride. The ugly = bad trope is alive and well in this story. The mystery isn't particularly mysterious and its resolution is lackluster; the writing doesn't sustain the excitement of the action.
What does shine is Wyatt's way of dealing with Cam – he calls bullshit as needed. This, the sex scenes, and the rodeo scenes are the reasons to read. The mystery could well be skipped over, and the internal logic best ignored. The story is uneven, but it does have some excellent moments. 2.5 marbles