This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
…still trying to turn pages…It can’t be over!!!!
Yep, it was that kind of book for me. I want a sequel, yesterday. I settled into this story with its stunning characters, twisty plot, authentic western backdrop, and overall splendiferous storytelling. Secret agents, gunfighters, adventure on the plains and down the river, good-guy marshals, mysterious artifact, and people who may or may not be more than they seem in this hard, gritty, tale that made me a happy western romance fan.
So what is all the fuss about? Well…
The story opens with US Marshal Eli Flynn and his fellow marshal, William Henry ‘Wash’ Washington sent to pick up prisoners and transport them for their appointment with court and probably the noose. Flynn sees the world in black and white and Wash tends to be more open to other possibilities. Flynn’s views are tested almost from the moment he encounters the infamous and yet mysterious Dusty Rose, gentleman gunfighter and another prisoner. The prisoners make him uneasy because of their open attraction to each other, but also as the facts stop adding up about the pair. He will do his job regardless of how interesting he finds the prisoners, but they make him think hard about his own secret attraction for his riding buddy, Wash.
While Wash and Flynn along with their prisoners head toward New Orleans others seek out a powerful artifact and will do whatever it takes to possess it. And of course everyone’s paths intersect. When the dust clears, who will still be standing? And who will find themselves in possession of what he treasures most?
I gushed quite a bit in the opening paragraph, but that is because I got that quality of story this author is so good at in her earlier books particularly her contemporary romantic suspenses. The light humor, witty dialogue, tough situations, and startling twists along with the engaging slow developing romances (I say plural there b/c you get a twofer in this one) were perfect. The icing on the cake were the historic western settings.
There are four main protagonists and two antagonists with the possibility of a third. The characters are written in such a way that the reader thinks they know these guys and that would be true, but there are layers. Gah, the layers are the best part. Flynn shares narration with Cage and the two villains who get short scenes until near the end. Flynn is a cranky sort because he is struggling to accept his inclinations about men and trying to hide his attraction to his best friend, Wash, even while he is needled by the knowing Dusty Rose who sees the truth. Wash seems a good sort who is competent, but also gentle. Rose is a little something of everything and he couldn’t be nailed down which was quite fun. Now, Cage is a mute so I was really glad to get his narrative so I could know what he was thinking even though he couldn’t speak. He is patient, avoids conflict, and is used to being abused for his disability. He is surprised that Rose and then both marshals tended to treat him like a regular person.
I would love to see a sequel and there was just enough left open to give me reason to hope. The story left things in a good place for all the heroes.
All in all, I was thoroughly satisfied even as I could have kept reading and reading. I would definitely recommend this one and particularly to those who enjoy m/m westerns blended with romance and suspense.
My thanks to Riptide Publishing for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.