Quick Note: I'm flat out stealing (with slight modification) Rosario's format in an effort to return to regular review posts. The blank page, trying to find overall message, an angle, etc. Too much work given the limited time I now have. Hopefully this template will automate the process for me a bit.
The Hell's Eight is the only family he's ever needed, until he meets the only woman he's ever wanted . . . 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 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 sexually satisfied is proving easier than keeping her alive.
Why: Sarah McCarty became an auto-buy author for me after one title—Promises Linger.
Power To Distract: In spades.
Let me explain this ‘measure’ briefly. For nearly two years now, my family and I have been mired in major life change stuff—the kind you either face once in a lifetime or at the very least every few years. Still in the thick of it, I’m weary and more than a little restless. I no longer enjoy my leisure time online or my time reading for pleasure. At least not as much as I did before. As a result, I find myself categorizing books by their power to distract me from my own reality. Tough to do right now. The few that succeed do so either through emotion or voice. Ms. McCarty’s Caine’s Reckoning scored with emotion.
Not surprising since McCarty’s characterization has always demanded emotional involvement. These are not mere acquaintances constructed to entertain. Rather, they are individuals with enough presence to step from the pages and accompany readers through their daily chores.
Heroine: Desi is spitfire and spunk wrapped in heart-wrenching vulnerability. Perfect for the time period, perfect given her experiences. I’ll admit however, that I harbored some doubt at first about Caine’s—or anyone else’s for that matter—ability to draw her out of defense mode and into the business of living. She felt that broken to me.
Thankfully, she is safely entrusted to Caine—under marriage—early on. I’m a sucker for this in historicals. I feel utter relief when the heroine is willingly or even unwillingly ensconced in a marriage to the hero and can settle back to enjoy the sparks guaranteed to follow. McCarty did not disappoint. There were sparks aplenty.
Hero: I’ll echo everyone else’s comments here. Caine IS the McCarty hero. The alpha defined not by his abs (although this fabulous cover suggests otherwise), but rather by his charm and humor. And patience. McCarty captures the romance of the alpha hero like no other. There is nothing more romantic than a hero who’s every expression; every mannerism demonstrates his desire to cherish the heroine.
Like Desi, Caine has endured hardship and suffered cruelty. And like Desi, he refuses to be rendered powerless by it. Instead, he chooses perseverance. It is an apt depiction of his strength and an added benefit for Desi as he has enough to spare for her. Despite the emotional turmoil in this story, readers can hold to Caine’s strength, clutching it as the promise of their HEA.
Defying circumstance, Caine also chooses family—albeit a makeshift one. It is here, through his and Desi’s interaction with these secondary characters, that readers find the side-splitting humor in this book. Some laugh-out-loud moments to assuage the emotional demands made elsewhere.
Story: Much of Caine’s Reckoning is in the development of Caine and Desi’s relationship. I’ve come to expect such a focus on character from McCarty that I hardly notice the presence or lack of external forces. Hers is a story about emotional growth. For me, it was the beginning, middle and end. Beautifully executed.
There are external threats, a villain and promise of more to come in the Hell’s Eight series. None so overpowering though, that they overshadow or detract from Caine and Desi’s journey to self and mutual trust.
Loved it. Was grateful for the emotional provocation. Happy for the satisfying read.