Review: Cowboys Don't Come Out by Tara Lain

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.

So this one didn’t work for me.

I am usually a sucker for the closeted MC and when you have two, well color this ginger happy because it’s double the swoon… but it wasn’t.

For me, when a character is so deep in the closet as both Rand and Kai are, I need to know why. I need to know so I can be on the journey with them to coming out. But I never got the depth of need for either of them to hide in this and with that, never came the chance for me to feel any emotion for either of the men.

Rand, doesn’t make sense. Like, ever to me. When someone has as much internal dialogue as he does, I expect to get to know him but I don’t ever think Rand got to know himself. I will never understand why he even went on this forced family holiday with his parents when he is a grown man who runs his own business. The vacation felt like one a teen would be forced to take and beg his parents for a private room so he could feel more adult but Rand, seems to have regressed to a child when he is around his parents. It’s bizarre and then there is his leading so many women on by dating them or pretending to like them because he needs to. Um, dude. I get you are gay and closeted but being a total dick to women and using them to make you feel better about not telling your parents you like men, is unacceptable.

But then there is Kai whose POV randomly shows up at 30% and… I dunno. I lived on Maui (Upcountry in Pukalani, just across the highway from Makawao and where the ranches/cowboys are) and knew a lot of gay men out there and there wasn’t a big deal about it even way back when I lived there. Not gay men or women so the fact that Kai is so closeted, again, made zero sense. Yes, I know every situation is different but that just confused me.


The whole repetitious “Cowboy’s Don’t Come Out” deal and the comparison to Brokeback Mountain that kept coming up, just rubbed me the wrong way. The men acted juvenile to me with how they approached one another. That first “I know he is gay!” moment with the flashlights was on the side of ridiculous. Good lord. The sex was really bizarre and not sexy to me at all and that end… really? They are in the closet for how long and when they come out it’s just ‘oh, cool! You wanna sandwich?” deal. No drama, no hate no… nothing so WHY were they so in the closet.

The drama with Kai’s siblings at the end was way OTT and I won’t even go into it. I mean you ask but don’t say anything and then you are all “Oh yeah. Totes dude.” I just… I’m done.

Me and this book, we did not get along. Not even island nostalgia could save this one.

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