Life as a prostitute has been far from easy for Nash Gallo and a recent beating has left him wondering about his profession. He isn’t naive and has managed to make a life for himself despite the risks associated with sex work, but he can’t help wanting something more. When Nash’s long-time online friend, Luke Meyers, invites him to Oklahoma for a visit, Nash jumps at the chance to escape the realities of his world for a while.
Luke has lived most of his life within the confines of a tiny town in eastern Oklahoma. He has learned to deal with the small minds and backwards prejudices of a few and ranches the property that belonged to his grandparents. He doesn’t hide who he is and he doesn’t flaunt it. But he’s done being another man’s dirty secret. When Nash arrives, their friendship heats up quickly. And despite Luke’s insecurities, Nash’s confidence and affection are enough to bring the lonely cowboy out of his shell. But Nash has been hiding the truth of his profession from Luke and that is only the first trial they will have to face in order to find a measure of happiness.
Camouflage was a rather flat and forced romance between two men looking for happiness. Set in Oklahoma, one of the convincing points of this book was its strong sense of time and place. The author does a good job of creating the sprawl and vastness of the Sooner State. But the plot and lifeless characters too quickly distracted me. From the start, there is a stiff awkwardness about the author’s writing style and this feeds into a rather concrete plot that never achieves much emotion. The story fails to gain traction and the events that take place read as too neat and lacking in real purpose.
The characters feel dreary and whatever romance exists between Nash and Luke comes off as rote and formulaic. The one positive in this relationship is Nash’s absolute support of Luke in light of his self-esteem and body issues. I found this to be ultimately redeeming, even if the characters didn’t fully progress. The only thing these two men seem to care about is eating. Every other page was a description of some meal they were having, rather than developing any meaningful personal connection. It’s boring and draws out already tepid action far longer than needed. I never connected with either Luke or Nash and neither of them read as anything more than stand-ins –an insert action here with character B sort of thing. Which is a shame because the overall arc of the story did have potential. It was simply never realized.
I really hate giving bad reviews. I know how hard authors work on their books and how much effort they pour into their creations. But at the end of the day, I have to be honest and Camouflage just didn’t work. The characters lack dimension and the plot never manages to evolve past its very basic shell. As a result the entire story lacked complexity and realism and read more as a cardboard fantasy than a well-developed book. I’d have to recommend giving this one a pass.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.