Review: Showstring by Jon Keys

Beef and beefcake, tight Wranglers and a lifetime of anguish, cattle and competition. Can Jayden and Ben mesh their wildly different backgrounds?

Jayden Laine has spent his life in the city, dreaming of cowboys and cattle ranches. He looks forward to each fall when his real life is exchanged for his dreams when the state fair opens.

This year when he steps into the barns he’s greeted by the sights he’s come to see, and one additional sight of Ben Ramos fighting to move a two-thousand pound bull that’s decided he doesn’t want to move. What happens next starts a juggernaut of emotions in Jayden that turn his world upside down. Now all he has to do is reevaluate his entire life and decide who to believe. And he has only a few days to do it.

Showstring is a short little novella high on sweet and low on angst. And, considering the set up for Jayden, it really could have been pretty heavy. Jayden has been hiding his sexuality as best he can from his family but his preacher father knows and he’s been through conversion therapy and survives by toeing the line. He depends on church folk for his home and job, so he indulges rarely, and really rather innocently by visiting the annual livestock competitions to ogle the cowboys and dream of what can never be.

The competition is only in town for a few days and the novella is set during that time. There really could have been a legitimate barnload of angst in Showstring, but being a novella and being told from only Jayden’s perspective it reads more like a Lifetime/After School Special version of a heartbreaking story with a guaranteed HEA. And that is not a dig by any means, the author did a good job of keeping the balance throughout so it wasn’t like anything was missing during the short time I had with Jayden and Ben. The light touch the author used worked for Showstring.

Ben is the perfect cowboy for Jayden and the way the two meet and continue meet and get to know one another is so hopeful you can’t help but root for them from the beginning. Even though it was pretty much insta-love, Ben is such a sincere character I didn’t mind one bit. He’s pretty fully fleshed out for only being introduced through Jayden’s perspective, but the conversations he had about family and future made me really like the guy throughout.

Jayden’s wishes are simple and heartfelt and I believed that Ben had his best interests at heart from the moment they met. Sure, it was a rushed HEA, it’s a shorty story and I wanted it to happen, so all fine by me. Showstring would be a great lunchtime/bedtime read when you want some warm and fuzzy feels and two characters who deserve their happily ever after.

**a copy of this story was provided for an honest review**

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