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Book CoverWilla’s review of Beauty and the Bounty Hunter (Once Upon a Time in the West, Book 3) by Lori Austin
Historical Western Romance published by Signet 2 Oct 12

I love a good historical western. The open range, the ranches, the stretching of my mind to a time when there were no cars, computers, and life may have been simpler but very hard. Throw in a good romance and I am there. Beauty and the Bounty Hunter starts out really well – look at that gorgeous cover . . the back blurb is enticing and different and I promptly dived in. After a few short chapters, however, I was looking for a lifebelt.

Cat O’Banyon is a bounty hunter. Her husband William was murdered, and she has since devoted her life to finding his killer so that she can put a bullet between his eyes. To this end, she agreed to a pact with Alexi Romanov, con artist extraordinaire, to teach her everything he knows about his cons, trickery, disguises, and languages. She also agrees to become his lover during this time, and then after a year or so Alexi awakes one morning, Cat is gone.

Cat, in disguise as a whore, is halfway through tying up a bounty in her bedroom when out of the shadows of the room appears a man. She challenges him with her gun and he just applauds her, then he knocks out her bounty and forces her against the wall. Who is this man whose face she can’t see, (the brim of his hat is low), whose voice she doesn’t recognise, is she in danger? Is he about to accost her . .  why no! It is Alexi . . her former lover who has come to tell her that the man who killed her husband has now put a bounty on her and that these hunters are close by. I find it really hard to believe that Cat would be unable to recognise Alexi with him so close to her after their previous relationship. Alexi tells Cat that although he doesn’t know who placed the bounty, he knows where this man is and they should go there and see if they can’t get him. So Cat and Alexi escape the hunters, meet up out of town, gather supplies for their trip, rest up to ready for the start, Alexi beds two women in his tent, and Cat is completely unperturbed about finding Alexi naked with aforementioned women. No emotional reaction at all. And that is how it continued for me through the rest of the book.

Then we have the road trip section complete with every western cliché ever invented and then some, and after reading only as much as I could take, I was reduced to skimming for my mental health. For your mental health I shall just mention a few. We had gunfights, heroine shot, visions of bright lights and deceased hubby saying “It’s not your time,” Indian encampments, huddling together skin to skin to keep warm, dressing up as a gypsy, and the heroine flashing her breasts at every opportunity to distract men. I searched ‘breasts’ on my reader and got 54 mentions. Cat O’Banyon doesn’t need a Derringer – her boobs are her best weapon . . as the men go slack jawed and she makes her escape. Oh and don’t let me forget:

As she’d told Alexi the single time he’s asked, she’s barren.  And nothing since has proved her wrong.

And then there is this curious piece – something I have never seen before in a Western:

Alexi is once again glad he’d stopped to shave his beard, apply make-up, as well as his breasts, not to mention pad his ass as the boy groped him everywhere. He could dress like Cat, walk and talk like her, too.

Apparently he had done this to try to infiltrate the enemy camp and was being searched. I could not read anymore and skipped to the epilogue. . .

“I was wrong” she began.
“What were you wrong about this time?”
“Remember when I said I was barren?” Cat asked
Alexi’s eyes went wary. “Yes”
Cat lowered his hand from her face to her stomach.
“I was wrong.”

I was just hoping that I had been wrong too.

Guest ReviewGrade: DNF:


Cathleen Chase is no killer—but as Cat O’Banyon, she is a ruthless bounty hunter who always gets her man. Catching one lowlife after another, she continues her search for the only man she really cares to locate: the one whose voice she will never forget; the man who murdered her husband. She’ll stop at nothing to find him.

Con artist Alexi Romanov taught Cat every trick she knows.  He is a master of deceit, of disguise and of desire. He’s difficult to trust, and even more difficult to resist, but he has news she can’t ignore. The man she’s after has placed a bounty on her head. To get him before he gets her, she’ll have to team up with Alexi again…  And just like before, the two of them together are nothing but trouble.

Read an excerpt.

Other books in this series:

Book Cover


The Lone Warrior – January 2014