Sometimes, the desperation and sheer grit of the era of the Western Frontier truly grabs me. I used to watch old westerns with my uncle. I was engrossed by stories like the Alamo, Wyatt Earp and Jessie James. I got into TV shows and movies like Deadwood, The Missing, and even the Hallmark channel's Love Comes Softly series (Is it oo corny or inappropriate to add I loved Little House on the Prairie, at one point?(The dad in that show was hawt! I don't mean to offend:).
Anywhoot! There's got to be an honorable mention of the era that lends it's credence to the Gold Rush, railroad expansion and lawlessness, while also the age that brought about a melting pot, very unlike the cities the the Midwest and the East, but no less significant. Native Americans, newly freed Negroes, Mexicans and Chinese, as well as European immigrants and Whites from the East, looking for adventure and new beginnings in the West, lived together, though among extreme prejudice, and worked together to further meld what is the United States.
So if you can appreciate all that plus the addition of erotica and romance, then Caine's Reckoning is a good enough read. The history of what is “Hell's Eight” and the depiction of this group of men as Texas rangers, who are hawt as hell and ridiculously alpha, is a treat. The men are of a few ethnicities as well.
Caine, the hero of this one, is unapologetic and reminds me of Wyatt Earp or the Seth Bullock of Deadwood. He doesn't give up and makes the right call when needed, a trait that initially made him the leader of this bunch. His love is Desdemona, or “Desi.” She survives a terrible ordeal wrought by a virulent business of prostitution and greed, which, in this novel, harshly outlines the brutality and disregard handed to women who lived in this era, in this part of the country. Caine is not as gentle with Desi as some readers may want, but he does protect her with a fierceness that shines through in this author's writing. The ferocity of his “ownership” and eventual love of Desi is extended in his brothers, not menage style but with a strong sense of family and belonging.
In all, this first book is a great enticement to read on in the series. Sometimes, the plot is too muddled with half-bake notions of the enemy and unfinished conversations. The heroine's awakening is awkward and not exactly smoothly written. Yet, the emotions of the characters are given some relevance that read, at times, poignantly.
Though I liked the second book in book in this series because the chemistry of the couple was more infectious, the setting, meeting and epic-ness of Caine and Desi's story is as memorable.