This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I had read the author’s trilogy, Cuvier Widows, and loved them so I was happy to pick up another book set in the past. This time the excitement happens west of the Mississippi and involves three strong, feisty and determined sisters who have turned bounty hunter to help save the family farm and earn them a livelihood. Light kitchy western dialogue and world building with scorching hot passion and a terrible hard choice sum up this story.
This is the first book in the series and of course the reader can start here, but I felt like I was stepping into an already established story. I was curious so I checked and indeed, there is a prequel novella that gets things started for the sisters that name their bounty hunting enterprise, Lipsticks and Lead.
The story opens with oldest sister, Meg and her sister, Ruby, getting set to bag their latest bounty, a man wanted for murder dead or alive. They’re doing fine until Sheriff Zach Gillespie shows up and takes their prisoner while also exacting a bit of revenge on Meg for her stunt of dragging him out of the bath, tying him up and leaving him naked in the center of Main Street. Meg lost her temper over Zach’s hurtful comment about a woman who would wear pants and now she is fuming again. Ruby begs her to be cautious, but Meg is now determined to thwart Zach and get her bounty money. Zach’s actions make her wonder if there is more to this than just petty revenge against her especially when he and that prisoner aren’t on their way to the closest jail cell.
Zach is risking everything including his reputation and job to fulfill a promise. He takes Simon from the McKenzie sisters and heads out to leave Simon in a safe place while he investigates the truth. If Simon is guilty then he will face the law, but Zach is entrusted to prove his innocence. Meanwhile he must play cat and mouse with the wild fury that is Meg. He was all set to marry her and he loves her still, but she can’t stand him after he made that comment about preferring his women in dresses. Her involvement complicates things as does the real possibility that he won’t be able to prove Simon innocent. Zach knows he has a tough decision to make and it will have to be soon.
From the beginning, this one struck me as a story that one couldn’t take too seriously if it was to be enjoyed. This was just zany and fun. Not one that the reader should pick up it they are looking for a serious western romance that gives attention to the details of setting and culture. There is a western cheesiness to it and Meg is over the top wildcat. The antics of her and Zach run like a romantic comedy in a western setting. The three sisters are all vastly different in personality, abilities and outlook, but they are loyal and strong when working together. It was a nice twist to see lady bounty hunters. The serious part of the story was Zach’s moral dilemma over what he will do if the prisoner Simon is innocent or guilty. Will he honor the law or obligation to a family member?
Zach and Meg are a crack up the way they went about their romance. A night of truth or dare with the whiskey bottle leading to mean hangovers in the morning. Later, they teased and tormented their way into the bedroom for a hot smexy night only to be awoken in the morning at the point of her sisters’ guns. I swear if there were gift registries back then theirs would have tons of rope on the list. They were always leaving each other tied-up to make an escape.
Meg is stubborn and lets her temper get the better of her. She grudges on the fact that Zach criticized her choice to put on pants and take a very non-feminine job. I’m okay with feeling hurt that he publicly put her down especially since she felt she didn’t have any choice. However, she made the comment more than once that the reason she didn’t have a dress was because she couldn’t afford one. They only had enough money for her two sisters to have them so she sacrificed. Um, the gals were close to paying off a mortgage and making hundreds and thousands of dollars on their bounties which totaled ten at this point, surely they can afford a few yards of cotton that was cents on the dollar? There were a few things like this that made me raise my brow, but I set it aside and went with it.
All in all, it was mildly entertaining with lots of sass to make one chuckle a few times. I would recommend it to those who want something lightly engaging with a few people who put the ‘wild’ in Wild West.
My thanks to the author for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.