This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Riptide
Released on August 23, 2016
Length: 7 hours 48 minutes
A Western suspense story that takes the reader into the world of lawmen, outlaws, secret government agents, mysterious treasure, raw and wild towns, riverboat showdown, and a trail of growing friendship and romance for four hard-bitten men.
This is not my first encounter with this book, but it is my first time getting the audio version. Mason Lloyd was a new to me narrator. He did a remarkable job with four main characters and a handful of minor characters, three perspectives. I thought he matched well for this style of story. He transitioned between thoughtful and descriptive times and equally well when big action scenes were taking place.
The story opens with a prologue of a meeting in Denver. Gabriel ‘Dusty’ Rose and Bat Stringer, gunmen are summoned by government agent, Baird. Baird wants them to steal a native artifact from the army for him. Rose is suspicious and wants no part. Stringer takes the job. Baird can’t have loose ends so tells Stringer to take Rose. Rose gets away.
Not long after that, US Marshall’s Flynn and Wash are sent for a prisoner pick-up. Flynn is none to pleased about the whole thing with Wash’s arm still hurt from his last assignment and one of the prisoners being the infamous gunman Dusty Rose. Rose is jailed with a pair of army prisoners who are being sent to St. Louis for trial. One of the men is a mute man named Cage. Not far along the trail, Rose and Cage grow friendly especially since Rose is kind to the man who cannot speak and seems to understand him without the words.
Rose’s wit rubs Flynn and the others raw and he is uncomfortable with Rose’s openness about preferring men. Flynn’s own mind is in conflict because of his feelings for his own trail partner. He and Wash went off to war together and then into the Marshalls. He struggles against the feelings that want Wash as more than a friend. He’ll be happy to get rid of the prisoners and get back to normal.
Unfortunately, first Wash and then Flynn grow more and more convinced that things aren’t as simple as they appear. Rose gives them glimpses into the broader situation and they are forced to figure out what to do with what they know. Before they can make up their mind, the issue blows up in their face and they are all left scrambling for their lives. Trust in each other is crucial and Flynn finally figures out his heart, but may have left things too long. Cage is confronted by his past and Rose must prove that he truly is the best if all of them are to make it out of the situation alive.
This has a great sense of setting and place. The tone is just right. A strong western story that feels like the real deal through and through. All four main characters are painted well and interact well as a group and in their partnerships. The author gave a fifth perspective with Stringer so the reader got many views at the situation since Flynn and Cage were the other narrators.
The suspense was a nice addition that kept me guessing. I had a good idea what was going on until a twist and reveal out of nowhere made me realize there was more to it. The ending was fantastic and left me breathless and glued to the story. I loved how it ended at a spot that can be seen as a complete story or the jumping board for more to come. Incidentally, if I get my wish, there will be more to come with these characters and an ongoing story.
To wrap it up, fantastic book experience that I would recommend to any m/m Western Romance lovers who don’t mind an action-suspense element.
My thanks to Riptide Publishing for the opportunity to listen to this story in exchange for an honest review.
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