Rating: 3.75 stars
Buy Link: Amazon | All Romance
Dan Wheeler was the happiest he had ever been. After a troubled childhood and moving from place to place, he had found exactly what he was looking for in Kentucky with Justin Archer. Working with Justin on the Archer family farm training horses, Dan had stability and the love of a lifetime until tragedy struck. Still working on the family farm, Dan tries every day to come to terms with his new life alone.
When billionaire Evan Kaminski and his lover Jeff Stevens come from California to the farm to buy a horse, Dan finds himself attracted to both men for different reasons, and both men let Dan know they are attracted to him as well. Dan still feels that any feelings for another man are a betrayal of Justin, however, and everything is a struggle.
A job opportunity has Dan moving to the west coast and both Evan and Jeff continue to make their feelings for Dan known. Evan and Jeff have a somewhat open relationship and are looking to include Dan in whatever way Dan wants to be included.
On his own again and missing Justin fiercely, Dan struggles to move forward in a different world, with different men, while staying true to his beliefs.
Dark Horse is a book that throws back to 2006 and for the most part stands the test of time well. First off, I did like the overall story this book was telling and for the most part I did like Dan who is the central character and narrator. I wanted to point that out first, because the style of writing in this book left it difficult for me to fully connect to the characters. I have never had a problem reading from any point of view or any tense; if it is a good story, I can read it. This book is written in third person present tense and the POV is only Dan’s. Which means the book reads, “Dan does this, Dan does that,” and Dan is talking about himself. It made me feel quite far removed from Dan.
When we first meet Dan he is really struggling and he has many struggles continually throughout the book. The book is long (perhaps too long for the story it is telling), emotional, and moves at a slow pace. There is a lot of information about the horses, their training, and their care. While a good portion is interesting and provided great background for the story, at times I would have preferred more focus on the humans. The first portion deals with the aftermath of Justin’s accident and Dan’s emotional state. Just the memory of Justin is in the book, yet he remained a stronger character than some that were present in the story. This is because we see these feelings through Dan and the depth of the feelings that Dan has for Justin comes across quite clearly.
Everyone is attracted to Dan, both men and women, but Dan has self esteem issues and doesn’t really understand why. Dan fully admits that he has a hard time reading people and following their intentions. So if Dan doesn’t see it or understand it, neither do we as the reader. We have no idea what is really going on with Evan and Jeff’s relationship because we are not invited in. When they back off from any contact with Dan at one point, the lack of information given as to what was going on was frustrating and stalled the story. We know that Evan and Jeff both want Dan but we only know what they directly tell Dan and many times they fumble along with their communication. Dan’s struggle to move on to another relationship is clear and his pain comes right through. Granted it is in Dan’s nature, but time and time again when he doesn’t understand something or is not sure of something, he does not ask questions or he runs off. Due to the entire story being only shown through Dan’s eyes, it was somewhat difficult to understand what it was about him (besides the fact they thought he was hot) that was making Evan and Jeff want to completely rework their relationship to include him.
The scenes that are in the moment are some of the best in the book as they offered a lot more connection to the characters. In particular, the intimate scenes with Dan and Jeff and/or Evan directly allowed more of the feelings of the other characters to emerge from the page.
It is hard not to want the best for Dan as he had a rough childhood and then struggles with the loss of Justin and moving forward. It did just take a long time to get there. The guys finally get together at the very end of the book and it was a long lead up to be over so quickly as the book ends with a happy for the moment.
Dark Horse has been around for a while now and it can continue to be one of your favorite books if that is the case. If you have not read it and the style of the story is to your liking, it would be a good choice for an emotional story with the backdrop of horse farms.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.