Author: Lisa Henry
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Pages/Word Count: 240 Pages
Rating: 4 Stars
Blurb: Wyoming Territory, 1870.
Elijah Carter is afflicted. Most of the townsfolk of South Pass City treat him as a simpleton because he’s deaf, but that’s not his only problem. Something in Elijah runs contrary to nature and to God. Something that Elijah desperately tries to keep hidden.
Harlan Crane, owner of the Empire saloon, knows Elijah for what he is—and for all the ungodly things he wants. But Crane isn’t the only one. Grady Mullins desires Elijah too, but unlike Crane, he refuses to push the kid.
When violence shatters Elijah’s world, he is caught between two very different men and two devastating urges: revenge, and despair. In a boomtown teetering on the edge of a bust, Elijah must face what it means to be a man in control of his own destiny, and choose a course that might end his life . . . or truly begin it for the very first time.
Review: This is my first time reading Lisa Henry by herself. I’ve read many of the books she has co-authored, and enjoyed them immensely, so I was really looking forward to reading this one. I was not disappointed.
A story set in the late 1800’s is always a winner for me. I love history, so this was right up my alley. The author’s descriptions of the sights and sounds of this small town made me feel as though I was right there. I could smell and see everything going on around me as I was reading.
I loved Elijah from the start. He lost his entire family to scarlet fever when he was a small child. A fever that left him partially deaf. Known around town as the “idiot”, he’s anything but. I feel that although he is a sympathetic, innocent character, he’s a strong one too. At around 20 years of age, he’s still figuring out who he is and what he wants when the author puts Elijah in the hands of Crane, the most unsavory character in town. As unfortunate and painful as it was to read those scenes, I felt they were necessary. Necessary in the sense that although Elijah feels ashamed and guilty for what he’s being forced to do, he’s finding pleasure in it too. He feels what he’s doing isn’t right because of the upbringing and teachings of his adopted father. We see and feel his inner struggle with what he desires and what he feels is his moral obligation to the man who took him in and raised him. I felt the author got the emotions spot on and portrayed them well. He’s still trying to come to terms with his sexuality. He just needs to find something or someone to balance it all out.
Enter Grady. Elijah finds what he’s been missing and needing with Grady: kindness, comfort, gentleness. I really liked how we see Grady admiring Elijah from afar before they actually meet. The story is told mostly through Elijah’s POV, but there are a few bits from Grady’s POV. Although it’s minimal and placed strategically within the story, I liked how the author gave us some insight on Grady’s thoughts without it being disruptive. And we see Elijah for the first time through someone else’s eyes, which made him that much more lovable.
I wouldn’t call this your typical love story. Yes, we see the beginnings of a relationship building between Elijah and Grady, and it’s beautiful. But the author gives us this wonderful, untamed world filled with danger. A tightly woven, character driven story that was a delight to read.
The secondary characters were colorful and added their personalities to the story. From the doctor who took him in as his own and had his own sad tale to tell, to the sheriff who looked after Elijah and made sure he was safe, to the bad guys who were really bad and self serving. They all added flair and mystique to an already interesting read.
Overall, I really enjoyed this story. I look forward to the sequel the author is planning and can’t wait to revisit Elijah and Grady. I would recommend this to everyone.
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