Caine's Reckoning

***This is a review of Advanced Reader's Copy***

Caine Allen is a hardened Texas Ranger, definitely not the marrying kind. But when he rescued 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.

I love series. There's something about them, like a continuing soap opera, each book telling the next episode, an addiction that doesn't end when the first book closes. Greedy me was more than happy to review the first edition of Hell's Eight by Sarah McCarty, especially when I began reading and happily learned the three main males are not stereotypical heroes.

The plot starts with a bang of action, introducing each character better than mere dialogue could. A mini mystery soon follows, and once it's solved, it ultimately leads heroine Desi (unwillingly) into the arms of Caine Allen, hardened Texas Ranger. Having suffered horrid sexual episodes with men of her past, Desi is jaded toward men and would like nothing better than to be left alone. She's sided and married with a man determined to protect and change all that, whether she initially likes the thought or not. It may be hard for some women to read a few scenes of what she went through, as the detail is intense and the scenarios violently grim, but the note of hope accompanying the rough ride leaves an appreciative turn-out.

I'd rate Caine's Reckoning as more of an erotic novel than romance, for sex continually sprints along the pages - hot and heavy - blended with romance and a few sub-plots that are exciting to follow. One is, of course, Desi escaping from the men who still want her, another being the harrowing tale of her twin sister (clearly leading up to a sequel - yeah!) Just be warned in advance that there's plenty of sex here, and if that's not to your liking I doubt you'd find this book suiting your fancy.

Character driven, Caine is a great hero. He's protective and strong, if not slightly overbearing and too domineering. He's erotic and gentle, yet at times fierce and rough, hardened by life but softened by the woman at his side. Gee, if I continue with this sort of phrasing, maybe I should write soap operas some day?? :) Desi is sweet but understanbly afraid of life, and it's interesting to see how she slowly relaxes enough to overcome the obstacle life tossed her way. Among the more interesting of the bunch were Caine's two sidekicks, the scarred Indian Tracker and the womanizer Sam. Tracker especially intrigued me, and I hope beyond hope that the second book delves into his budding romance with someone (perhaps Desi's sister?) I'd like to read Sam's story as well, but it's not as enticing yet.

On the negative side, sometimes a few scenes were played over and over again with Caine and Desi, proving mildly irritating. A small shortening of the novel could have fixed that problem. At times Caine's smugness wanted to make me slap him as much as I'm sure Desi did, but fortunately his good side outweighed the bad.

In short, this is one loaded book, fraught with emotional torment, strong emotional, gripping action, and a refreshingly beautiful relationship. Heady in the erotic department and surprisingly funny at certain times, this ones worth seeking out for sure.