Sunday, April 19, 2015


Publisher:    Berkley
Published:   April 7, 2015
ISBN:     978-0425277430
Genre:   Historical Western romance
Format:  Print
Obtained via:  Publisher  
Reviewed by name and email address:  Gina


On his way back to Stonechurch, a mining town more or less owned by Ramsey Stonechurch, Quill McKenna stopped off for a little food, a little drink and a little female companionship.  What he finds at Mrs. Fry’s house of ill-repute is a woman who he simply cannot stop thinking about.  Turns out that woman is the rather well-known and somewhat feared bounty hunter, Calico Nash.  Calico is at Mrs. Fry’s to do a job—and it’s not necessarily one that has her tumbling into bed with the gentlemen who come to call.  She’s there as the bounty hunter she is.  But she also raises Quill’s protective instincts.  So much so that he almost comes between her and her bounty. 

A few months later, in addition to protecting his employer, Ramsey Stonechurch, the mine owner’s daughter, Ann, is threatened.  Deciding that he needs help protecting the Stonechurches, Quill sets his sights on hiring Calico.  Calico agrees to help—and for more reasons than the money protecting Ann. 

While a few more attempts or threats are directed at Ramsey, all begins to see quiet around the Stonechurch home.  During the lull in protecting the family Quill and Calico begin to probe beneath the surface of what is going on around them—Ramsey’s attraction to Calico and Ann’s to Quill.  But that dims in the light of Calico and Quill’s attraction to each other. 

But that lull is not meant to last.  Another attempt is made on Ramsey’s life—one much closer to home that any could have anticipated.  And while things at the mine have taken a downturn, evidence of something deeper surfaces.  Can Quill and Calico find the killer before he finds them?

It has been way too long since I read a Jo Goodman book.  She’s one of the authors I’ve historically turned to when looking for a good western romance and she does not disappoint.  In her latest, THIS GUN FOR HIRE she delivers not only a sweet romance, but an absorbing mystery.  At first I thought there was going to be the standard “pampered daughter falls for hired gun” story that would have some good romance and a little adventure.  It was a treat to meet Calico Nash in the first few pages.  The character has a great personality and some wonderful depth.  Even though she struggles a bit with the constraints of a woman of her time, she also has a marvellously depicted independent spirit.  She’s very likeable. Something else I liked was that her role as a bounty hunter is simply another facet of her character.  It’s not an over the top depiction with a swagger, cigar and other forced traits – it’s just who she is and for the most part she is comfortable with the elements of that role.

Quill is also wonderfully multi-layered.  A combination of a minister’s son and a fast gun could have turned into a caricature.  It did not.  Instead Goodman reveals the many layers to this character making him more and more likeable.  He draws on his family’s way of being, but is also his own man.

What I struggled with in the book was the dialogue.  Every character spoke perfect English.  Nary a contraction was to be found and I just can’t believe every person in 1888 spoke with such perfect grammar.  There were points where if I wasn’t tracking every character I would have lost who was speaking because they all spoke the same in the same perfect manner. 

While I figured out who was trying to kill Ramsey and how pretty early on, it didn’t take away from how Quill and Calico would solve the mystery and while the ending was somewhat predictable, it was well done.  

This is an objective review and an endorsement of this book.


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