Tag Archives: queer westerns

Takedown: Taming John Wesley Hardin – Dale Chase (Lethe Press)

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Lethe Press has recently queered Dracula, Edgar Allan Poe, and Sherlock Holmes, but this technique is nothing new to Western writer Dale Chase. She’s been queering legends of the Old West since her first full-length novel, Wyatt: Doc Holliday’s Account of an Intimate Friendship for Bold Strokes Books. For her second, she turns to the less well-known gunfighter John Wesley Hardin and his stay at the Huntsville Prison in Texas.

The year 1878 sees Hardin’s arrest and incarceration in Huntsville for a twenty-five year stint. Convict Garland Quick is easily smitten with the killer. When they are both assigned to work the wheelwright shop, they begin an affair–regardless of Hardin’s married status and Quick’s present relationship with his cellmate lifer Jim Scanlon. Quick is, of course, drawn into Hardin’s failed escape scheme, but this is only the beginning for the two men as they endure torture, beatings, love, anguish, hope, celebrations, and despair.

Historical accuracy aside–and Chase mentions her disregard of the facts when they get in the way of the story–this is a damn fine yarn. It has everything you need for a terrific prison tale: an evil warden, floggings, bad food, a slipshod prison doctor, and prison sex. Lots of prison sex. And Chase writes sex scenes with a refreshing frankness and clarity, using all senses to achieve her ends. More important are the reasons Chase uses for Hardin and Quick having sex. Sex is used for love, celebration, punishment, vengeance, need, boredom, reassurance, and as a mood barometer. And in many of these encounters, the why is almost as telling as the act itself.

But the sex would be meaningless without wonderful characters. Chase’s Hardin is a confident, able man given to fits of morose depression and intense guilt for having sex with Quick outside his marriage. Not encumbered by matrimony, Quick has fewer obstacles to overcome. However, his relationship with Scanlon makes for some delicious dramatic tension as it breaks up while his affair with Hardin blossoms. Quick also has some great moments as Hardin is poised to win his pardon and leave prison life behind him.

Chase’s Western settings are perfect, with a fine sense of place that gives just enough detail but doesn’t belabor the point. She paints the picture, puts the characters in their places, then gets the hell out of the way as they play their parts. Her material is never overwritten or overwrought, which is most welcome in erotica. So if you’re feeling the chill of winter, you should get a copy of this and bask in the hot, dry dust. And the sweaty sex.

You’ll never want to leave your cell.

©  2014  Jerry L. Wheeler

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Disturbing the Peace – Dale Chase (Bold Strokes Books)

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It’s no big secret that I’m a fan of Dale Chase’s work. Whether it’s her Victorian erotica, ghost stories, or modern erotica, it’s always impeccably researched, flawlessly written, and lovingly rendered. But her Westerns are absolute delights, and you can tell it’s a period she loves to be in. Nowhere is this more in evidence than her latest e-book release for Bold Strokes, Disturbing the Peace, containing four of her very best lawman-themed cowpoke tales so dusty you’ll have to wipe the Kindle off to see the screen.

The first story, “Solace,” finds Marshal Frank Sutcher accidentally shooting and killing Ted Mickle during a gunfight in Contention, Arizona. Mickle, an innocent bystander, was the marshal’s bedmate as well as his best friend. He cannot find an antidote to his sorrow, but he can find some sexual solace with his deputy as temporary relief. One of the things I find so enjoyable about Chase’s work is that her Western characters are iconically laconic. Their emotions are not stuffed away but neither do they appear on the surface, and so it is with Sutcher’s grief.

“Up For It,” the second piece, centers on a robber who contrives to escape from jail by seducing Deputy Dean. The robber’s actions are at once bold and brilliant as he struts his stuff with the deputy, even working a rifle barrel into the act before he finally catches the law with its pants down around its ankles.

Next up is “Shotgun,” which sees maybe the most direct opening line Chase has ever written: “I am looking to become a deputy in Tombstone, and to that end I suck the marshal’s dick.” Now, there’s a man who knows what he wants and how to get it. And get it he does. After orally embarking on his career path, he further ingratiates himself by foiling a robbery. He later hooks up with one of the robbers who gets away, only doesn’t realize it until after they’re finished.

The final, and longest, story, “Disturbing the Peace,” takes Chase into some territory whose borders she usually doesn’t broach, but neither does it stray too far from the archetypical Western themes of revenge and justice. Jack Timm is marshal of Globe, Arizona and works hard to keep the peace. He also plays hard with Pat, one of the local bartenders, but he’s always on top. Never bottoms. Never will. And he’s got a mean temper and a handy fist to keep his bottoms in place. One of those boys is Drew Culver, who Timm knew when they both drove cattle before Timm became marshal. Culver had been in love with Timm, but all Timm cared for was the sex. Spurned and forgotten, Culver robs the express office in Globe, luring Timm into a trap. He gets the drop on the marshal, ties him up, and gives him some of his own heavy-handed medicine, prompting swift and sure revenge from Timm.

Chase’s Westerns are classics of male erotica. The sex is incredibly hot, but that’s not the only reason to read her. I’ve said it before and I don’t mind saying again that everything about her cowboy stories rings true. From the dialogue to the sex to the attitude, there’s a level of truthfulness and veracity not many authors hit in period pieces, no matter what period. All I can do is read in awe.

And look forward to the next one.

©  2013  Jerry L. Wheeler

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