This was one of the TBR vote books for May that didn’t win, but I was in the mood for it and squeezed it into my reading schedule anyway.
I’ve enjoyed this author’s western paranormal dystopian Demon Outlaw series and was tickled to see this western sci-fi romance. Blending elements is a gift for this author as well as her tough characters that have the true western spirit. The book had some creative elements, an intrigue, and strong characters. The plotting was solid if slow developing and lagging in the middle, but things got pretty exciting toward the end and made up for it.
The story opens with US Marshal and Special Division member, Sam Kyote, discovering that he has been experimented on to make him capable of going up against possible ‘out of this world’ enemies and the humans that would partner with them. His enhanced abilities are to be kept secret particularly from a traitor in his own government organization so he is sent to practice with his new abilities and keep a low profile in the backwater frontier town of Coyote Bluff.
The locals including the town sheriff are all interested in their new resident, but Libby Mayden’s curiosity runs to suspicion when intruders on Sam’s land lead to a gun battle and the intruders act odd as does Sam. She has seen this oddness before and has hidden her secrets well. She has a past as the daughter of an infamous outlaw trying to live down her past. She never wanted all the things that most women desire- husband, home, and family, but her attraction to Sam is confusing her. He seems to accept her as she is and isn’t intimidated by her ability with a gun and desire to do lawwork, but he does challenge her to reconsider the no relationship policy.
While Sam and Libby are figuring out the attraction between them, Sam sees that she is keeping secrets, but then so is he. The intruders and watchers at his ranch aren’t human and he possesses non-human abilities no thanks to someone forcing alien blood and matter into him. He must thwart the alien threat and figure out if Libby’s secrets are part of his latest mission. And he must really figure out how to get the hard, stubborn woman to accept they can be together.
Alright, so I really loved the world building the author set up and the intrigue going on as two different groups are plotting around Sam and Libby and seem to be working to influence their actions. The passion and playful back and forth between the romance pair was good as well even if they are only moderately developed. But, the middle of this book seemed to lag for me. I got distracted and put it down a few times. Then it picked up again and I was right back into it.
This small town with its quirky characters was a hoot. I laughed at some of their antics particularly the hellion who terrified all the men and was dangerous when wielding her frying pan, the town gossip in Libby’s deputy and the storeowner’s wife, the pastor who used to be a prize fighter, and more.
The alien element was interesting because it was paired with a western. They crash landed and try to blend as they work toward their own goals. They aren’t as prominent as I thought they’d be since the real challenge for Sam and Libby is a human enemy working with the aliens.
There is also another figure orchestrating affairs that is a mystery. He might be a good guy or he might be a villain. All the way through, he is one big puzzle. I was glad to figure him out early since I love it when I can work out a mystery. It was a neat surprise element in the story.
All in all, this was a fun and exciting read even with the lag in the middle. The blend of elements was well done. I hope the author writes more of these. I would recommend this one for those who can enjoy tough yet passionate characters situated in a fun blend of sci-fi and western romance.
I got this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.
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