It’s been 10 years since Calvin Craig has been home to small town, Sweetwater. It’s the last place he thinks he wants to be, but the only place he can think to go. Bull riding was in his blood, and when he thought he couldn’t have the preacher’s son, Eli Jackson, forever, Cal left town for the rodeo circuit. While having had some success and becoming a local celebrity, Cal has returned with a number of injuries that should have him quitting bull riding for good. His physical injuries only rival the emotional damage he suffered for years being away from Eli.
Eli Jackson fell hard for Cal as a teen. They were inseparable for two years, but when it came time for Eli to go to college, he told Cal he wouldn’t choose between Cal and his preacher father. They never got to have another conversation about it as Cal took off without a word and while Eli has gone on to become the town sheriff, his heart never forgot Cal.
Not everyone is happy to see Cal back in town and Cal’s sister, as well as Eli, have unfinished business with him. The heat between Cal and Eli is still as hot as ever, but the men have to reconcile their past hurts. Cal knows he still loves Eli, but forgiveness comes at a price and while everyone tells Cal he was never good at sticking around anyway, he’s determined to stay right by Eli’s side.
Down Low starts a new series and if you are looking for a small town, second chance romance between a bull rider and a sheriff with a past, you may want to check this one out.
Cal left town when he thought Eli was breaking up with him. With Eli being two years older than him, he was ready for college and Cal wanted to go with him. Living with his uncle, Cal’s home life was abusive and the thought of being there without Eli broke him and he took off. Cal had some success on the bull riding circuit, but that’s not an easy life and Cal’s body has paid the price. However, he’s not telling anybody exactly what kind of damage he has sustained.
The men see each other almost immediately as Cal returns to town and the tension between them is suffocating. Cal and Eli were teens when they last saw each other and their story comes from what was going on around them at that time and their age. They couldn’t see past their own emotional pain and talking things through at that age wasn’t something they considered or stuck around to do. They both have their own version of what happened between them and then there is the truth that lies in the middle.
Eli can be seen as gruff at first and Cal can be seen as aloof, and their childhoods shaped them, but their pain at being apart is what really drives their behavior. There is still heat between them and there is still longing, but Cal has to find a new place for himself and Eli has to trust in Cal. Cal had a rough childhood and I did think that everyone expected Cal to forgive people who hurt him too easily simply because he was older, without any apologies or much conversation, and that didn’t sit as well with me.
I was able to get caught up in Cal and Eli’s story, the references to and glimpses of the rodeo, the small town they live in, and their struggle to find each other again. Cal’s rodeo friend, Lane, is next up and I will look forward to returning to this series again.