Rachel and the Hired Gun by Elaine Levine
Why this one: As was apparent, I didn’t read nearly enough Westerns in 2008 so I was determined to rectify this in 2009, the book wasn’t too expensive, I like the cover and when I was in SF, I got a fridge magnet for this book and it’s been on my fridge since August - reminding me daily to get this one when it came out. So I did!
Steam Level: I’d say warm – like a coffee that’s been sitting for about 10 or 15 minutes
Amazon Blurb: When Rachel Douglas left her aunt's house in
My Thoughts: One thing I love doing and don't do nearly enough, is try debut authors.
I love a good Western so when I read one – I’m going in with a stacked deck in the ‘I’m going to like it’ category. And like this one I did.
I loved Rachel. She has grown up as a real Cinderalla type character, the poor relation of her aunt, uncles and cousins. She was a servant rather than a member of the family. Finally her father, who owns a ranch out west sends for her. And meeting her part way is Sager, a hired gun of her fathers. They travel with the wagon train until someone spies how close they seem and then Rachel is shunned. Sager decides to head out; just the two of them, for his bosses ranch. But Sager has other plans for Rachel and these plans are not to her benefit.
Rachel is a intriguing mix of bravery, such as when she faces down a rabid wolf, confronts and stands up to her father whom she is meeting for the first time and fearfulness due to her wretched upbringing.
And Sager is a good tortured hero. Stolen even before he was born from his white family, he was raised by an Indian tribe until the age of 14, when he was stolen back again from everything he knew growing up. Due to his background, he too has a lot of baggage and a lot of anger. He’s the one to shy away in this relationship, thinking he isn’t good enough.
The scenes between Sager and Rachel were very well done and I could really feel the connection between these two lost souls.
But I did have a few issues. First of all there is some unusual head hopping. This is something I don’t normally notice, but when we jumped into the head of the housekeeper late in the story for just a moment, it did pull me out for a bit.
The villain of the book was just a tad too over-the-top evil. If this person had had a mustache – which would have been near impossible – they would have been a-twirling it.
We never really got a description of what the hero/heroine looked like except for hair and eye colour. I know this doesn’t bother a lot of readers, but for me it would have been better if I could have grabbed an image – even if I do have a tendency to put in whoever I want anyway.
There were a couple of story lines that were brought up and then kind of left dangling without any resolution.
But the biggest issue I had, it was it was never explained or if it was, I missed it, on what exactly was Sager’s plan for revenge. He had a plan, and the author covered it to a certain extent, but if his plans had come to fruition, I would have been thinking ‘yes……. and then what?’
I don’t mean to sound to negative because overall, I did quite enjoy the book. It only took me a couple of days to read - and that's a sign I'm enjoying it. Using baseball as an analogy – because baseball in winter sounds good and it helps ever so much – with a new author, sometimes they strike out. I’ll try one book and never want to read another one. Sometimes they hit a homer! Authors such as Elizabeth Hoyt, Meredith Duran, Judith James and Joanna Bourne have hit a home run with their first book. And some authors are in between. I would say that the author, Elaine Levine hit a double - possible a triple with this one. And as Wendy our Superlibrarian would confirm, there is nothing wrong with a double/triple. Ms. Levine has at least two more books in this series and they are already on my TBB list. Without too much effort I think she could get a definite home run. And man, did it feel good to read a Western again!!
And in the vernacular – dang folks, that's one mighty fine cover!!
Grade: 4 out of 5