Hell For Leather
by Beth Williamson, historical (2008)
Samhain Publishing, $4.50, ISBN 978-1-60504-046-2

Cade Brody has come to Eustace, New Mexico, to start life anew after he has had enough of being a gunslinger. He just wants to be left alone to brood and grow a permanent artful stubble or whatever it is that men of his kind do when they want to pull a woobie act, but alas, it seems like everyone in town is taking turns to intrude into his privacy. From the mysterious squatter in his cottage to the beautiful widow Sabrina Edmonds who runs the local post office-cum-general store, his new neighbors are not, deliberately or inadvertently, giving him any peace of mind.

Hell For Leather is a spin-off from the author's The Malloy series but this one can be read as a standalone story although doing so will mean that you will not be privy to details in Cade's past that are merely alluded here. Both Cade and Sabrina are rather superficial characters with just enough depths to make them two-dimensional, but they are likable types with unhappy pasts who work hard instead of staying in the past and throw pity parties. The story has a pretty large cast, as if the author is planning to create a series featuring these characters in the near future, and if I'm honest, a part of me wonders whether it is necessary to have so many characters showing up here. The romance and the main characters aren't the most detailed here, so the presence of the large secondary cast does feel like an unnecessary distraction that takes away precious space from the main characters and their relationship.

Still, this is a very readable story and the romance is wrapped up nicely with a heartwarming message about Cade finally finding a family of his own at long last. For a long time, I'm not sure where the author is going with all her secondary characters taking up space in this story, but when I'm finally there, it's a pretty good place to be, all things considered. I've read better, I've read worse.

Rating: 74

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