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Book CoverSandy M’s review of Caine’s Reckoning (Hell’s Eight, Book 1) by Sarah McCarty
Historical Romance released by Harlequin Spice 1 Nov 07

I loved this book. I absolutely loved everything about it. The characters are very true to life, good or bad.

Caine Allen is a Texas Ranger and head of Hell’s Eight, a spread nearly the size of Texas where he and other men who have lost loved ones in Indian massacres have found a home and a family of sorts. Caine is a hard man because of the hard life he’s led living in a hard land during hard times. He’s also a good and honest man, a man who looks out for those under his protection and for those who have a place in his heart. He and two of his men, Sam and Tracker, have been hired to rescue a town’s kidnapped women. When they come upon the kidnappers and their victims, only one woman is fighting back and what a job she is doing on not one, but two of the evil cowards and she wins Caine’s admiration and respect right off the bat.

Desi is a feisty hellcat when she has to be. Most of the time, however, she’s afraid of every sound and movement and doesn’t trust a soul. She’s been held captive since her family was killed by Indians. And it’s not the Indians who have kept her in chains and used her for their own twisted ways. The town’s gambler is Desi’s guardian and that’s the first thing, besides her fear, that bugs Caine about the entire situation when he returns the women to the townsfolk. As determined as he is not to leave her with such lowlifes, Desi herself is more determined to remain free and she even fights Caine for that freedom. But at the end of it all, they end up married so he has the right to take her away from the hell she’s been living in for years.

From this point on this story becomes an emotional ride for Caine, Desi, and the reader. Caine does his best to hold himself in check when he tries to love Desi. He doesn’t know the whole story yet and every time she jumps at his touch or she expects anger from him when she does something “wrong,” he vows to get his hands on the men who abused his wife as horribly as they did. Caine is soft and sensitive to her every need, her every want, her every desire. It’s fascinating the way he comes across on the page being the hard man he is but knowing he has to gently love this injured, scarred, and scared woman.

Desi’s issue is trust. She hasn’t had any for anyone in a lot of years and with every flinch at Caine’s touch, it seems as though her trust is gone forever. What she doesn’t know is that Caine is not about to give up because this woman, his wife, although she deserves better than the likes of him, she is only one for him. Seeing Desi’s trust grow in each and every scene between these two characters is wonderfully done. And when Desi finally truly opens herself to Caine, it’s a scene not to be missed.

The secondary characters are all simply terrific. The other Hell’s Eight men have their own demons to fight and they’re going to be great but hellacious reads as they come along in the series. I’m especially taken with Tracker and Shadow, who are brothers, and look forward to their stories. The villains are also written quite well and are characters who you love to hate. James, the aforementioned gambler, is a complete but terrifying asshole, along with his cronies, and it’s so nice when their time comes due.

There’s not one thing I didn’t like about this book. I’m just sorry I waited so long to read it after everything I heard about it when it was first released. I won’t be doing that with the newest edition in the series, Sam’s Creed, which was released just last month. I will be reading it very, very soon.

SandyMGrade: A

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Caine Allen is a hardened Texas Ranger, definitely not the marrying kind. But when he rescues a kidnapped woman and returns her to town, the preacher calls in a favor. One Caine’s honor won’t let him refuse.

From the moment he beds Desi, Caine knows turmoil will follow. Desi might have the face of a temptress, but she also has a will of iron and while she needs his protection, she’s determined that no man will control her again. They establish an uneasy bond, but it still isn’t enough for Caine. He wants all Desi has to offer. He wants her screams, her moans, her demands…everything. Yet there’s still a bounty on Desi’s head and keeping her satisfied is proving easier than keeping her alive.

Read an excerpt.

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