A guest review by Sirius
Summary: Low key well-written historical, but I was not sold on the HEA for the guys.
On a scorching summer’s day in 1903 the sheriff of Creek County, Eugene Grey, unexpectedly finds himself partnered with feisty young Federal Marshal Forest O’Rourke. The marshal is hell-bent on capturing a wanted man—a man Eugene knows as nothing but an amiable old geezer living quietly in the hills.
But, of course, all is not as it seems. As the manhunt progresses, Eugene slowly works out the true nature of the marshal’s relationship to the old man. And something Eugene has long kept hidden begins to stir inside him. He finds it impossible to deny the desire he feels toward the determined young marshal.
Death and fiery destruction follow, but also passion and stolen moments of joy. Eugene’s journey takes him from his small town of Canyon Creek, Colorado, to the stately homes of Atlanta and Philadelphia. But it also pits him against the very laws he has sworn to uphold. He finds himself risking prison or even death—all in the name of love.
I know I said it before, but it bears repeating – my knowledge of American history is very fragmentary and for many periods is still non existent. No matter how much I try to fill in the “cultural gaps”, I always feel that I do not know much more than I do, and the setting in this book is definitely the one I know nothing about. The book starts in Canyon Creek, Colorado in year 1903 and as the blurb tells you our heroes get to visit a couple other places – like Atlanta and Philadelphia. When I know nothing about the period, I usually at least try to google some basic facts, check Wikipedia, to see if the basics are intact. I thought that the settings were very believable and well done, but of course those of you who know it better, may find some mistakes which I would not know to be mistakes.
One thing I did wonder about – I learned about the Colorado labor wars while googling (I apologize if this is a famous events which Americans learn in school about, but I never heard about it before writing this review) and supposedly the pique of the bloody and violent fighting took place in 1903-1904. I wonder whether the author made a deliberate choice not to talk about that, because that may have been too much to cover and may have put additional strain on the main characters to deal with, since they are both in essence law enforcement officers.
I mostly liked this book quite a lot, and I really liked the understated, restrained chemistry between Eugene (Gene) and Forrest. I thought that their behavior was very believable for men in the beginning of the 19th century. I even could buy their fast connection – probably because they were not saying I love you and lets be together forever right away. I also think that I can buy a faster connection in historicals a bit easier, because I can buy that if the person does not have a dating pool around them so to speak, they may be attracted to the first person who comes along their way. In any event, no matter the reason, I bought their attraction.
Here is what I did not buy though. You know how 99% of romances have a mandatory separation between the characters? It could be well done, it could be contrived, and I thought it made sense in this book. However because that separation happens pretty late in the book I kind of did not buy their happy ending. I just did not feel that one of the characters was strong enough not to leave again when he had another one of his doubts and really thought that the other guy deserved better. I wonder of course whether the writer even meant to do a HEA here, since the book probably ends on a HFN note and it all left me with “here we are, what is next?” thought. If we were meant to feel uncertain at the end, then the goal was achieved at least for this reader.