Author: Abigail Roux
Cover Artist: Simoné
Rating: 3.25 of 5 Stars
By the close of 1882 in the American West, the line between heroes and villains is narrow. Total chaos is staved off only by the few who take the law at its word and risk their lives to uphold it. But in the West, the rules aren’t always played according to Hoyle.
US Marshals Eli Flynn and William Henry Washington—longtime friends and colleagues—are escorting two prisoners to New Orleans for trial when they discover there’s more than outlawry to the infamous shootist Dusty Rose and the enigmatic man known as Cage. As the two prisoners form an unlikely partnership, the marshals can’t help but look closer at their own.
When forces beyond the marshals’ control converge on the paddle wheeler they’ve hired to take them downriver, they must choose between two dangers: playing by the rules at any cost, or trusting the very men they are meant to bring to justice.
(This title is a revised and edited second edition, with minor new additions, of According to Hoyle, originally published elsewhere.)
This was a slow starter for me in all aspects, with a lot of set up, multiple locations and several different sets of characters in each. This isn’t all that unusual in some stories and I’m always willing to go along for the ride, to see what happens and why they’re all important. It held my interest thanks to the excellent physical descriptions of both place and people. It was very easy for me to see everything in my imagination. I felt like I was sitting on the edge of the dock on a sunny day, swinging my legs back and forth, waiting for something to happen.
About a quarter of the way through and not much had or was happening. I most wonderful story was developing though between two of what could be called supporting characters, Gabriel and Cage. Gabriel the Englishman with his adventurous past, great sense of self-preservation and ability to read any person or situation, and Cage, the Army scout with a great deal of intelligence and history, both ignored because of his being mute. These two greatly interested me despite them having inhabited maybe a dozen pages up to this point.
I hadn’t yet bought into Flynn, Wash and John. Well, maybe John a little. These are the main characters arguably.
So back to Gabriel and Cage, the two most interesting people in this story. Why is that? They’re the two treated to true character development. They get a slow and steady climb of discovery between them, as well as by me about them.
As for the main characters, the few things revealed about them were continually repeated, leaving their storylines and supposedly changing relationships to remain rather flat. In the moments and scenes with an opportunity to achieve progress in building these characters, they’re left alone, not taken advantage of, and instead we get the repetition about their history, thoughts and goals. That’s half of this book.
On to the second half…
Unfortunately, not much has changed. It’s not even the plot that keeps things from getting exciting, though not much happens in that arena until close to the end. It’s that lack of progress in the interactions between these people. Flynn tells Rose to shut up. Rose teases and calls Flynn on his BS – this is one of the bright spots, but it too is repeated without much variation. Wash is all heart and strength but never really given meaningful opportunities to show them beyond asking pointed questions or showing kindness in removing hardware. The brightest part of all is that of Cage, as well as the connection he and Rose find impossible to ignore.
My curiosity was never fully engaged. I wasn’t provided enough of a foothold to deeply invest in the characters except in fleeting moments, that potential left underutilized.
Bucking this trend are the few action scenes. They’re well-choreographed and exciting, but once they were over, not much had been learned or changed as a result. The repetition and flat landscape returned.
It’s not that this is a badly written book, it’s not. The prose flows with an easy cadence, nothing sloppy or unnatural. But the personality and style of it are so evenhanded, there’s no chance for changes in rhythm or pace, except for those couple of scenes. There’s a difference between palpable restraint as displayed by the characters and the untapped energy of a story itself feeling restrained.
I love historicals, love this time period, love westerns, and love a diverse cast of characters, which this is in some ways. In this case, all of these ingredients didn’t result in much of a reading experience for me.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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