Dark Horse

Dark Horse - Kate Sherwood

Dan is a drifter who finally stopped drifting when he found love in the horse trainer Justin. They've been living and working together on the Kentucky horse ranch owned by Justin's parents for several years when Justin had an accident which left him in a coma. For a year after the accident Dan has existed in kind of a limbo. He was hoping Justin is going to wake up, but at the same time, deep down he knew the doctors are right and Justin is already gone.

Dan makes sure he doesn’t inhale when his face is near Justin. There’s no smell, but rather than making Justin seem clean, it just makes him seem… empty.

So when Justin's parents sign a Do Not Resuscitate form, Dan is at first furious at them but then  he agrees that it's for the best.

Jeff and his lover Evan and Evan's younger sister Tatiana came from California to Kentucky to buy a horse for Tat. A very specific horse she's fallen in love with while watching him perform. But the horse is too much for inexperienced Tat, and when Dan points that out in spite of Justin's parents wanting to make a sale, he gains a bit of Jeff's and Evan's respect and trust.
Evan wants to buy the whole horse operation including Dan's services as a horse trainer. Dan doesn't want to leave while Justin is still alive, but when Justin has a heart attack and dies, he decides to try and move on with his life. He has nothing really keeping him in Kentucky except maybe his friend Chris, so he follows Justin's horses to California.

Through the whole story Dan is working thorough his grief and guilt. He has some trust issues and he doesn't feel like he deserves anything good happening to him. And when something good does happen he's always on edge, waiting for the other shoe to drop. He feels guilty for starting to date again only a month after Justin's death (even though Justin's been in a coma for a year before that) and the waiter / musician Ryan helps him a great deal with his understanding and his non-judgemental, zen attitude.

Jeff and Evan have an open relationship. Before the move, Dan felt a connection with Jeff (and it was mutual), but he was pretty annoyed with Evan's come-ons. He eventually mellows towards Evan too, and when the two offered him a threesome (in more than a physical way) Dan is flabbergasted and more than a little scared. He feels like he belongs with Jeff and Evan, and even Tat, but he can't convince himself it will last. What scares him the most, I think, is the idea that Evan and Jeff will eventually get tired of him and leave him behind... and Dan can't deal with being left behind anymore.

“Maybe anything could happen, I guess. But, really… what are the chances? Seems a lot more likely that you’ll decide that it was a fun little experiment but it’s time to get back to real life. And then I’m left standing there, all… attached… to two guys who are moving on.”

The three of them get together in the last 4-5% of the book (and what a hot getting-together it is!), but mostly this book deals with Dan's grief and how he allowed himself to start living again.
Dan is not secure in his place in the relationship dynamics at first, but that's only to be expected when joining an already established couple.

Overall, I liked the book. The writing flowed and gripped me right from the start, and I felt for Dan and his inner drama wasn't too tiresome. I was hoping for a bit more of the three of them as a whole, but I guess I'll be seeing that in the sequel. I would really love if we could get a perspective other than Dan's though.