Review: My Cowboy Promises, by Z.A. Maxfield (Rating: 3.5/5)

My Cowboy Promises, by Z.A. Maxfield (Part of The Cowboys series)
Publisher: Penguin Random House/InterMix (June 16, 2015)
Page Count: approx. 275 pages
Genre: Gay (M/M) Romance

Cover Artist: Unknown

Cover Artist: Unknown

Short & Sweet: When they were both young, Ryder and his friend Andi thought they’d found the perfect solution to their problems: she was single and pregnant, and he was secretly gay, so they got married and raised Jonas together. But then Ryder meets Dr. Declan Winters, and the connection between them is undeniable. Now Ryder and Andi’s arrangement is threatening to come apart at the seams.

* I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair & honest review. *

My Thoughts: The cowboy trope in romance fiction is one that’s been done a hundred times, but I was pleased to find something new in Maxfield’s “My Cowboy Promises”. Ryder is not your typical cowboy; he knows that he’s gay, but has made the decision to stay in the closet and give up college and his own life so he can support his best friend Andi and her son. He’s raised Jonas as his own for the last five years, and wouldn’t give up this life for anything, but meeting the new doctor in town changes everything.

Ryder felt like a very real character to me, dealing with very real issues. He hates keeping secrets, but does so because it’s the only way he can keep Jonas as his own. He wants to be in a relationship with Declan, and has Andi’s support, but feels guilty for having to keep their attraction hidden. And when he finally can’t take the lies and the secrets anymore, it sets his life in a tail-spin.

Maxfield did an amazing job with the characters. They’re all flawed and realistic, and I loved watching them struggle to come to terms with their own wants and needs. That said, Andi was difficult to relate to at times, because she seemed almost a caricature– drinking a bit too much, partying a bit too hard, emotionally over-reacting a bit too much. Still, her character evolved, and by the end I was just as in love with Andi as I was with Ryder and Declan!

One issue I did have was the strange metaphors and similes throughout the novel. Some of them were so outrageous that they actually jarred me out of the plot (for example, “my skin sizzled, rippling like bacon in a hot pan”).

I also thought the ending was rushed. After so much build-up throughout the novel, and the climatic revelations of Jonas’ parentage and Ryder’s sexuality, I really would have liked to see Andi and Ryder confronting her father, or Ryder’s father coming to terms with his son being gay. The epilogue was nice, but not a fulfilling conclusion.

I would absolutely recommend this book to others. It was a fun read, the characters were interesting, and I love that it didn’t follow the stereotypes in most other gay cowboy romances!

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