oracne - Victoria Janssen (oracne) wrote,
oracne - Victoria Janssen


Sarah McCarty's Caine's Reckoning is my favorite of the three or four Harlequin Spice books I've read so far. A major reason is that it's a Western, therefore genre and historical, both of which I like more than contemporary settings. Also, it's a good story.

This book, for me, was essentially a romance, that just happened to have more sex and a grittier level of realism. The heroes are the Hell's Eight, a bunch of gorgeous Texas Rangers who all survived a massacre in childhood, and are now carving out their own place. They're rough but heroic and good hearted towards women and animals; both classic and soothing in their familiarity.

I liked that the heroine, Desi, asks the hero Caine if Indians live on the land the Eight are claiming; the hero says yes, but "there's plenty of room for all," which I believe is one of the rationalizations put forth at the time historically. When she presses, Caine admits that there are sometimes fights. You don't see the local Indians, but at least their presence is acknowledged. A couple of the Hell's Eight, brothers, are Mexican and Indian, so I'll be interested to see if the issue is addressed more in their individual stories.

Desi's backstory is gritty. Her wealthy family traveled from the East to make their fortune; subsequently, her parents and brother were killed and she and her twin sister repeatedly raped by bandits. Desi is then bought and held captive for more rape by evil townsmen. After her rescue by and marriage to Caine, she has a difficult time adapting to her new life, which lends most of the plot and characterization tension. Desi's post-traumatic reactions were realistic and harrowing. I liked that Caine does not solve all of her problems instantly, and in fact takes time to decipher her behavior and understand her reasons. Though inclined to be domineering, he gradually learns that isn't the only way to interact with her. The two of them work together, each giving a little at a time, to make their abrupt marriage work.

The major difference I saw in the sex scenes was more anal play than you'd get in a romance (I think there was some in one of Emma Holly's historicals, and in Pam Rosenthal's ALMOST A GENTLEMAN if I remember correctly, but I don't recall much more in the romances I've read). The language might have been more frank than a "regular" romance, but that varies widely even among romances not considered erotic, and I don't think it was even as explicit as some of the Black Lace novels. McCarty was sparing with the f-word. There was a slightly higher quantity of sex scenes than in a regular romance, but all of those scenes doubled as character and plot advancement. Overall, I liked it a lot and thought it was a good example of an erotic romance.

Tags: erotica, reviews

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