Title: Thunder
Author: Dylan James
Publisher: Deep Hearts YA
Release Date: August 8, 2019
Genre(s): Young Adult M/M, Adventure
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 

Read book blurb here

I don't read much YA, but I really enjoyed this novella about two young men who work together to solve the mystery of cougar attacks on their neighboring ranches, and discover they share something more than a love of rodeo.

Logan and Grant live on neighboring ranches and compete in calf roping, with Grant disliking Logan for his skill, while Logan really likes Grant and wants to become his friend. The author does a good job of putting us in that mindset of teenagers who cannot find the words to get past their fear, and in this case, it is coupled with Grant's growing realization that he is not straight. His beloved horse Thunder is the only one who knows of Grant's feelings:
Those stirrings I'd wanted so desparately to ignore just seemed to intensify. I squeezed my eyes shut and tried to will it all away. It was bad enough that I had those kind of feelings, but to have them for Logan? I just wanted it to all go away so I could just be normal. I wanted to go back to simply just hating Logan.

The author also really tunes into how denying true feelings creates so much self-hate and hatred for others: "I despised Logan and wanted to push him away and tell him to eff off ... but part of me wanted to close the last of that gap between us. And that made me hate Logan even more, for triggering this .... this thing inside me that reacts to guys like him. This thing that wants to get closer to guys like him."

The plot draws us into a crazy tale of corporate misdeeds and near death situations, but at the core is a story of two boys who quickly grow to trust one another, draw strength in their darkest hours and earn the chance for their fledging young love to grow and strengthen. 4 stars for "Thunder."

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