January is in Denver on business and enjoying a drink at the bar when a group of cowboys comes strolling in and catches his attention. One, in particular, is sent to fetch the drinks and when their eyes meet, January detects a spark of interest. Not wanting to get a beating if he happens to be wrong, January offers to buy the man a drink and from there his life shifts into fast forward as he and the rodeo champ, Hawk Destry, come together like two firecrackers going off simultaneously. Sexy times with a hot cowboy is just fun, right? So why can’t January get the man out of his mind after their hot weekend together?
Hawk is all about the ride, whether on the bull or otherwise, but the guy that picks him up in Denver has gotten under his skin somehow and boy does he ever want to continue seeing him. But life on the road is not an easy thing and having a boyfriend when corporate sponsors frown upon being gay is something Hawk is very mindful of all the time. Between that and his other secret, Hawk figures he has little to offer someone like January other than some fun times in the sack, but golly he wishes the man could somehow be his.
Perhaps the best way to begin this review about Jodi Payne and B.A. Tortuga’s novel, Flying Blind, is to state unequivocally that I thoroughly enjoyed the pairing of Hawk and January. Given that Hawk is, in actuality, living and working with a disability and hiding it from the world, his championship status riding bulls is impressive. Better yet, his choice of career is very believable and that’s all down to how this writing duo crafted his story in such a way as to make it realistic. The fact that he is surrounded with friends, a very few of whom know about his secret, who are ready to help him at a moment’s notice helps the novel feel like a true story.
Beyond their chemistry, I really enjoy the idea that both January and Hawk are at a similar crossroads in their lives, both wanting to find stability and someone to love, someone who believed in them. Their constant inner dialogue that cues the reader into how they are feeling and what doubts they are having is sometimes carried a bit far to the point of being overdone, in my opinion, but it doesn’t take away from the idea that it is also a great vehicle to learn more about what it is that makes each man tick. In many ways, this story is a great character-driven novel and there is no doubt left as to how January and Hawk think and feel about each other.
However, this story felt like it needed some editing. Often the same theme, emotion, or idea is repeated. I understand that this is used in order to show how deeply the men are worried about something or unsure of their future together, but at well over three hundred pages, I think it is safe to say that by mid-book, I got the idea. I kept feeling like something should happen sooner, things should get settled faster and the hesitancy that both guys were experiencing should fade. Unfortunately, the plot kept circling back to the same themes over and over and that got a little boring for me.
The other element that set my teeth on edge a bit is Hawk’s mother and the way she spoke her mind about what she felt is Hawk’s inability to take care of himself. The fact that no one stood up to her, including her husband, until January took the matter in hand seemed rather strange to me and I really struggled to like her character. It was all passed off as her strong will and her motherly love, but honestly, the way she spoke to Hawk and rather effectively put him and his ideas down seemed very unloving to me.
While I really like January and Hawk and admire how their story is one of triumph and love, the overly long plot featuring their doubts and insecurity that seemed to stall the pacing, at times, and the overbearing mother figure are a no go for me. I so enjoy the pairing of these two authors and feel they create really good stories, but Flying Blind is not my favorite of theirs.