This Gun for Hire by Jo Goodman #Review

Posted May 5, 2015 by Sophia Rose in Reviews / 26 Comments

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This Gun for Hire by Jo Goodman #Review
This Gun for Hire

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

Series: #1 The McKenna Brothers
Genres: Historical Romance, Western Romance
Published by Berkley
Released on April 7, 2015
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher

Get it at: add to goodreads

A rousing good time is had by all when a saucy lady bounty hunter and a man with more charm than any male should be blessed with partner up on this western suspenseful adventure romp. I eagerly grabbed this one up, set spurs to it and finished with a delighted grin on my face. My second book by this author and I do believe I’ve established that I love her stuff. She hits a good balance between wild, harsh west and sassy-fun western spirit.

This is a standalone story that starts with a madcap opening scene. Quill McKenna stops by Madame Fry’s establishment to relax, enjoy the liquor and an armful of curvy woman when his plans are derailed by the most captivating female he has ever seen. She’s nothing like his ideal woman, but who cares. His protective instincts are aroused when he senses something off about her new customer. This lands him into an adventure with the infamous female bounty hunter, Calico Nash and it is her skill in bringing down her criminal target that later has him recommending her for the task of guarding his boss’ daughter. Not that he would admit that he has some personal interest in the exciting, witty woman that stirs him out of his complacency.

Calico had an unusual childhood that made her more fit for a man’s world and lacking in refined feminine skills, but it uniquely qualifies her to bodyguard the daughter of wealthy mine owner, Ramsay Stonechurch even as Quill works to keep his headstrong boss from getting nailed by whoever is making the deadly attempts on his life. Quill McKenna got under her skin and close proximity with the truly handsome, enigmatic man leaves her off-balance. For the first time, she thinks about something permanent though the idea of putting down roots with a man terrifies her. Still, Calico is no coward and let’s the chips fall where they may. Meanwhile, she and Quill work to figure out who is threatening Ramsay and Ann with no obvious suspects and a vengeful enemy from their past draws closer and closer.

The story covered some truly fun western territory from a cathouse to a mine. Western cliches are where its at with me, but the author doesn’t write tired plots even if there is very familiar stuff that can be noted in most Western Historical Romance. Nope, this was exciting, dangerous and fun. I loved the feeling of anticipation the author built so that I knew it was going to be an adventure on many levels including the romance between Quill and Calico. There is a gritty quality overlayed with humor and passion. The bad guys are scary and are worthy of their roles and the secondary storylines added good layers to the plot.

The plot was strong with a variety in pacing. There are the scenes with the Stonechurches establishing their situation and filling in their stories around Quill and Calico’s story. There were nicely drawn details about the mine town and mine setting during that period in history. And also there was a slow to tease out suspense plot that gained momentum near the end. Not sure how it happened, but I cottoned to things and why it was happening from pretty much the beginning with that so I wasn’t surprised at the crisis point or at the reveal. It was still pretty exciting to see how things filled in between point A and point B.

My only niggle was the dialogue takes some adjustment. The main characters are very precise and formal in their speech. I was expecting it to be more relaxed and casual, but as I said, small niggle.

As to characters, I’ll start with the heroine. I am so hard on the gals in stories, but seriously this one was a treasure and a treat. Calico is a reversal role for gender as a female bounty hunter, but she isn’t over-played so that she’s a caricature of herself. I loved how she was written as a woman who happens to have a certain skill set and a brain. She is shrewd, observant and doesn’t play around. Oh, she has her weaknesses. She doesn’t know what to make of having feelings for Quill and fears that he won’t accept her as she is. That doesn’t mean that she got coy about stuff. Oh no, Calico embraced her fears. She threw a loop over that bronco and rode him hard.

Then there is Quill. The author let Quill start the narration on this one long before it switched to Calico. Usually when that happens, I get to know that person so much better, but nada. Quill was a mystery even though he narrated half the book. Oh, who he is as a person shines through with his thoughts and dialogue, but his background is teased out slowly. There are clues, but even I wasn’t ready for the final reveal to his story. Poor Calico didn’t stand a chance. She wasn’t used to having a guy around that could see right through her and think circles around her. He was her match just as she was his. Quill’s the renaissance man of the west. He’s assertive, but he also can be persuaded. He is as taken by Calico as she is by him and he doesn’t want to change her even though she challenges him at every turn.

The romance was paced well developing over time long after the original spark of attraction. It is sassy, witty and oh so caliente hot. Calico might not have had a lot of experience before being with Quill, but she sure wasn’t shy once they got going. These two had a good time exploring their sensual connection. Their sexy times were steamy, but they were humor-filled and fun too. They could argue like an old married couple, but there was respect and humor involved so it didn’t get ugly. Some people match up so well and I honestly could have kept reading beyond the point of the story because I liked them so well.

I loved the way the secondary characters had strong roles too. Sometimes they even got to narrate a scene or two. Ramsay cracked me up particularly when he and Quill are together. He’s got a mischievous quality even though he has a diabolic intellect just like his daughter. Quill has to keep the man in line. I felt sorry for Ramsay in the end and I would love to see him get his own Autumn romance. Ann is a chip off the old block and has many of Ramsay’s qualities which makes her keep Calico on her toes.

Okay, now I’m going to point out something silly and trivial, but the hat on the cover is driving me nuts. I really want to push it back even just a little to see his eyes. I know this is common if you ever look at enough pictures of sexy cowboy models- you know where they stand with head crooked down so all you see is the top of the cowboy hat and not the face, but it bugs me. I want faces. Haha!

So, to wrap it up, this was a fantastic read that carried me back to the Old Wild West giving me a spicy romance, strong plot, and sparkling characters. Lovers of western historical romance should definitely give this a try.

My thanks to Penguin Group for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Romance Roundabout #152 HR

Historical Romance #39

Cliché Klatch #75 ‘baited with promises and kept them hooked’

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.

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  • Great review!! I do want to get back to this author soon and I love a good western so I will have to go get this

    • Oh you really must, Renee! I think you’ll love it.

  • I can feel your excitement for the story (and the gorgeous cowboy) through my phone. (I’m commenting on my phone btw) oh and I hate it to that we can never see the characters on the front covers but tis a romance book. Sooo…Yeaahh. But we don’t have to accept it Sophia. Nope. Nope. Nope. Hehe Calico seems like my type of heroine. Smart, independent, and strong. We would def get along. 🙂

    • Calico is a hoot!
      Haha, nope I do not have to like a no-face cover even if the other parts are smokin’ hot. 😉

  • LOL you and Mary with wanting to see the faces. That totally makes me smile. I’m with you on so much of this one and loving her books. She really is great. I did have that niggle as well but we talked about that before. Would have been just a wee bit more perfect if the dialogue had flowed a little better. By the end though I was hardly noticing it I was so into the story 😀

    • I no, I no, ugh. I guess I don’t have enough imagination to fill in the blank when the head is missing. Haha!

      Yeah, I got used to the the dialogue style after a bit and only had trouble when I had to set down and pick up the book again.

      Love it and want to read more of her books.

      • I’m still working through book one of her last series. We read it for book club but I had to put it down to read review books. Made it about half way and it was pretty dang good. Gotta get back to that.

        LOL sometimes the missing head is a good thing. I’ve seen a few of the original pictures and,yeah, good calls. lol

        • I think I have that one on my list- the hero’s the sheriff, right?

          • He wasn’t by the time I had to stop reading but I think yeah he ends up taking that role 😀

            • Okay, so its the one that comes before In Want of a Wife. Good, that’s the one I have on the last.

  • I’ve got a theory of why we never see their faces, and it’s basically this: They’re bodies are way hotter than their faces. LOL. I know its a shotty theory but my other theory is that the model is trying not to laugh when he’s posing as a sexy cowboy with a gun. He’s gotta focus and get into character.

    • Hehe! I can get behind those theories, Lanie!

      It’s not just the guys either. I’ve come across covers where the woman’s face is obscured by a big hat or bonnet.

  • I get what you are saying about the hat…I had the same notion as you, lols. I love that she is a female bounty hunter, haven’t come across that yet so a very good find Sophia! I like this 😉

    • It was a fun story and I loved that she was a tough gal, but still a gal. I want to go back and read her backlist after the last two have been so good.

      Oh man, the urge is there just to reach out and tug that hat up. 😉

  • You know, I have Jo Goodman’s Let Me Be the One (audiobook) and I haven’t listened to it (bought it along time ago). Sounds likes she’s a great author, I’ll be moving that one up the list, and I already checked ,this one is on audio too.
    LOL about the hat. BTW, on the audio cover we only see his mouth…lol The things that bothers us I do notice, her covers are unique, if that’s a good word to

    • Just the mouth? Well, guess at least I got half a face.

      I wonder what this one would sound like on audio. I think I’d love it. They banter a lot and I laughed a few times. I want to read her back list so I’ll have to check out Let Me Be the One.

  • Great review! The cover looks so “High Plains Drifter.” I am not a big cowboy person though.

    • Thanks, Stephanie!

      I think they did a good job of matching the cover to Quill.

  • I’ve only read one of her books and it was mid-series so i felt a little lost..but this sounds wonderful, so I will try again!

    • Yes, this is a good one to try again. It’s a standalone.

  • This sounds great. It’s been a while since I read a book like this one.

    • It’s been a while since I read a good Western Historical too.

  • Lindy Gomez

    A female bounty hunter?!! Sign me up!!! Adventure, Passion, and Suspense all sound like they added to making this story so enjoyable. The formal speech between the characters would bother me a little bit too.

    Lindy@ A Bookish Escape

    • That was me too when I saw that in the blurb- female bounty hunter? I’m there!

      I got used to the way she had them talking after a while, but each time I set the book down and picked it up again I had to adjust all over again.

  • Oh wow, I’ve never read a Historical/Western. Sounds good. And oh yeah, I agree with the hat issue. LOL

    • I don’t read too many, Angela. I’ve just started checking out the writers in this niche of Historical Romance and I love this one.

      Haha! That hat! I’m still frustrated that I can’t tip it back a little.