Alex’s passion for riding, and dressage, is almost an obsession; and if you read between the lines of his childhood, you will understand that is also an escape from reality. His mother divorced not only her husband, but also her children; Alex is alone in raising two little sister, since not his aunt or his father are of much help, his father even moved in a roulotte in the front garden, probably to not have to live in an house without the woman he loved. But Alex’s father is not a bad man, nor when he is sober or drunk, he is only extremely sad; he is really not able to take care of his children but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t love them, and so, when he gets a chance, he brings home an horse, a real horse, for Alex (see living in a country small town? You can have a barn in the backgarden instead of a shed for a dog…).
Problem is that, a) the horse is not a dressage horse and b) even if the horse was, there is no one around there that can teach Alex dressage. And so Alex becomes a little champion of western riding, with cowboy hats and boots, all the while dreaming of tight breeches and top hats. If an external viewer can see that, other than being an escape from reality, Alex’s obsession for dressage is also a proof that he has a sensibility that is completely different, and greater, than a normal boy, it’s not until he hits puberty that Alex realizes that he is gay. But there is no “gay” in the small town, no one he knows who is, no one he can relate, same as it was for dressage: dressage and gay are “stranger” things, not “normal”, and if you like them you are not normal as well.
Alex’s luck changes when Ivan and Fergus move in town: both former dressage champion, they have a beautiful house with attached horse riding and they are willing to teach Alex. To an adult reader, it’s clear that Ivan and Fergus are a couple, but there is no hint of sex, no kiss, nothing: Ivan and Fergus are two horse lovers who are eager to share their love with the others. They are not an example for Alex of how being gay is, but maybe they are giving him an idea of what being gay and having a career related to horses can be. Alex will discover his sexuality (but only for what concerns kisses) with another teenager, finding out that he is not so strange after all, and that even in the small town where he lives there are other like him, and more than what you will expect.
Another Kind of Cowboy is a really sweet and tender story, a romance between teenagers that remains on a teenager level, not adult feelings or issues to ruin the discovery of first love; and even if you read it from an adult perspective, the sweetness is so nice that is good to lose yourself in an innocent world.
Amazon: Another Kind of Cowboy
Amazon Kindle: Another Kind of Cowboy
Susan Juby's In the Spotlight post: http://elisa-rolle.livejournal.com/1067756.html