Author: Tara Lain
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Narrator: K.C. Kelly
Rand McIntyre settles for good enough. He loves his small California ranch, raising horses, and teaching riding to the kids he adores—but having kids of his own and someone to love means coming out, and that would jeopardize everything he’s built. Then, despite his terror of flying, he goes on a holiday to Hana, Hawaii, with his parents and meets the dark and mysterious Kai Kealoha, a genuine Hawaiian cowboy. Rand takes to Kai’s kid brother and sister as much as he drools over Kai, but the guy sports more prickles than a horned toad and more secrets than the exotic land he comes from.
Kai’s earned his privacy and lives to protect his “kids.” He ought to stay away from the big, handsome cowboy for everyone’s sake—but since the guy’s just a haole on a short vacation, how much damage can he do? When all of Kai’s worst fears and Rand’s darkest nightmares come true at once, there’s not much chance for two cowboys who can’t—or won’t—come out.
This is a very sweet story of a closeted cowboy—the son of working professionals who want to see him wed and happy—no matter what order that happens in. He agrees to accompany them on a holiday vacation to Hana on Maui and there he sees a Hawaiian cowboy, who works part time leading trail rides for the hotel. Looking as if he were born in the saddle, Rand sees Kai as the man of his dreams. And when he spots him again when he goes out dancing, the two shoot sparks between each other as they two-step their partners around the room, giving Rand hope the young Hawaiian might be gay.
Kai is even more closeted than Rand, however, as he’s been raising his orphaned sister and brother and hiding that fact from the authorities, to keep the kids out of the foster system, ever since he was sixteen. He passes himself off as twenty-three now, but in reality, he’s only twenty and those kids depend on him for everything. Their mother was a drug addict who left them alone years ago and it wasn’t until time had passed that Kai finally found out she had died. Determined to give them a good life, Kai does everything for them while working two jobs, so he has no time for the gorgeous Haole who makes his heart beat faster.
The story is definitely based on a well-used trope and even with a blindfold on, I’d know it was Tara Lain’s writing style, but it was a delightful and entertaining story as Rand struggles to find the courage to come out, and even greater courage to fly back to Hawaii to help his man when trouble with the authorities puts the family in jeopardy. The kids are sweet and like little adults, and the supporting characters, including a little old lady Rand meets on the plane, are all great.
KC Kelly did a very good job with the narration and I especially enjoyed the voice he gave to Kai. It sounded genuinely Hawaiian to me, based on my limited exposure to island natives.
A very nice way to spend six hours and fifty minutes, I’d recommend the audiobook to those who might be interested in this story.