By the close of 1882, the inhabitants of the American West had earned their reputation as untamed and dangerous. The line between heroes and villains is narrow and indistinct. The concept that a man may only kill if backed into a corner is antiquated. Lives are worth less than horses. Treasures are worth killing for. And the law is written in the blood of those who came before. The only men staving off total chaos are the few who take the letter of the law at its word and risk their lives to uphold it. But in the West, the rules aren't always played according to Hoyle.
U.S. Marshals Eli Flynn and William Henry Washington are escorting two prisoners to New Orleans for trial when they discover there’s more to the infamous shootist Dusty Rose and the enigmatic man known only as Cage than merely being outlaws. When forces beyond the marshals’ control converge on the paddlewheeler they have hired to take them downriver, they must choose between two dangers: playing by the rules at any cost or trusting the very men they are meant to bring to justice.
Reviewed By: J9
In a Nutshell: Excellent MM western with not one but two great romances and a stellar action plot. BUT, and it’s a big but, the sex scenes were beyond miserly. I ended up so disappointed I deducted half a frog for the smut-free romance.
The Set Up: U.S. Marshals Flynn and Wash have been best friends since the Civil War. Their latest assignment is to escort the infamous shootist, Gabriel Rose, and an enigmatic mute, Cage to federal prison. But the marshals don’t expect their relationship changes or the dangers en route.
Why I Read this Book: No surprise I’ve adored the Cut & Run series by this author so thought I’d give her historical western a try.
What I Liked: I love that I got two romances for the price of one. Flynn and Wash are stuck in their friendship but they know and are comfortable with each other. Theirs is a slower romance but the emotional payoff is delightful. Gabriel and Cage are just meeting each other and have a much quicker romance, in part because Gabriel is an out and proud man. Their romance is drama-free but just as emotionally satisfying.
If you regularly read my MM book reviews you know I like my MM romance to include adult manly men (after all, I am a girl!) This is exactly what I get in these four men. They’re full grown men who have survived and thrived in the America West with all the dangers and necessary skills required. I like that these men are men who just happen to be sexually attracted to other men.
What I Also Liked: As much as I like the romances, the banter between Gabriel and well, everyone, especially Flynn, is stellar. Anyone who has read the Cut & Run series and loved Ty will love Gabriel. His humor is captivating and had me laughing the entire novel. Cage is his perfect foil as he’s a mute but certainly gets his point across to everyone, Gabriel especially.
The plot of the marshals escorting the two “criminals” to prison for hanging is extremely well written and action packed. I loved the slight plot twist at the end as I didn’t see it coming but it made perfect sense.
What I Didn’t Like: I was cheated. The emotional build up for these two romances was so delicious and the men so stellar that I wanted payoff. Gabriel and Cage have at least one scene. But the marshals get five miserly sentences! I don’t mind the dirty girl label if it means I get more than five sentences in the novel’s last five pages! Before that, readers will enjoy meaningful PG kisses but that’s all. In my opinion good romance is a balance of emotional and sexual intimacy but this novel missed the latter totally. I was so disappointed I had to reduce the rating on what would otherwise have been a solid four frog novel.
IMO: Great romance, great story but stingy sexy-times.