Review: Hell for Leather by Beth WilliamsonWednesday, July 9, 2008 22:00
I understand that Beth Williamson is a popular author over at Samhain, and that she has written a lot of westerns. This book was my first exposure to her books, and while I found it a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours, I’m not sure I’m a convert yet.
My problem with this book was largely compounded by the fact that I’ve been having the same problem with the last few westerns I’ve tried. Namely, I find former gunslingers angsting about their pasts extremely *unsexy*, and in this case, the whining also included a fair bit of petulance which irritated me.
Cade Brody has moved to New Mexico to bury his past. (Literally, as it turns out.) Unfortunately, solitude isn’t as easy as he’d like it to be. He seems to have an unwelcome visitor leaving him surprises outside his cabin, the townsfolk seem to regard him with suspicion, and he’s way too attracted to Sabrina, the local storekeeper. Sabrina, who tends the store and also lives with her painfully shy sister, is drawn immediately to Cade, and is driven to uncover the secrets of his past–secrets he doesn’t want to share with her.
I’ll start with Sabrina. I liked her. She was a widow, and so she knew what she wanted from Cade. She could have been a martyr, but I just never got that vibe from her. Also, it’s Sabrina who does a lot of the pursuing of Cade, which I really enjoyed.
Cade… Oh, Cade. I suspect he would not have bothered me nearly as much as he did were it not for the fact that he makes the third whiny gunslinger I’ve run across in my reading lately. He needed a good shaking, and while, of the three gunslingers I’ve read about, he’s got the far more convincingly rough past, I thought he stomped around and acted more like a [pouty teenager than a grown adult one too many times]. Thankfully, a few of the characters call him on this, which makes me feel better.
The secondary characters worked well. I really like Bernice, a young woman Cade befriends, and Antonio, the saloon keeper, was also fun. Some of the rest of the town seem destined to being sequel baits, but the characters whose stories I would read were all female, so I wasn’t really as bothered by that.
The plot was good, with action that kept me reading. I had a few questions about some things that didn’t seem entirely historically plausible, and there’s a random paranormal element that seems kind of jarring, but the romance was pleasant. Also, I kept wondering what was up with this title as it seems like a cliche from the book of western phrases just inserted there randomly. (That’s a nitpick, I know, but still… I did wonder why nobody was actually riding hell for leather anywhere.)
Overall, this was a fun read. Probably not one I’d recommend going out of your way to acquire, but definitely a quick, amusing read.
Exile…or love. Life…or death. His demons will force him to choose.
Gunslinger Kincaid has traded his black clothes and pistols for a homespun shirt and trousers. Now he’s Cade Brody, a man with dark hair, dark eyes and an even darker past. The blood money he’s earned bought him a small piece of property in New Mexico territory, at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. But it can’t buy him peace.
Sabrina Edmonds, a tough, no-nonsense widow, runs the post office and store in the small town of Eustace. She’s made her way in life with an independent streak a mile wide. Sabrina doesn’t want to get involved with Cade, but she finds herself drawn to the dark stranger who hides in his mountain retreat.
Cade wants nothing more than to be left alone, but an elusive wild child who delights in tormenting him, and a town full of people determined to befriend him, conspire to intrude upon his self-imposed exile. Then there’s Sabrina, who should be afraid of him—but isn’t.
Not even when the deadly demons of his past catch up with him.
Warning: This title contains lots of smart-ass remarks, a kick-ass heroine, a dark hero and some kickin’ hot sex.
You can read an excerpt here