Shadow’s Stand – Hell’s Eight, Sarah McCarty
Hell’s Eight is a historical Old West romance series set in the Texas territory and follows the lives of a group of Texas Rangers. This series is based on a group of eight boys that years ago all found themselves orphaned after a Mexican invasion to their childhood town. They could have easily become outlaws but thanks to an elderly woman taking them in they were given a home and taught love by her stern hand. Now they live their lives by the same stern code of honor and with a fierce devotion to each other and their home.
The series begins, in case you haven’t been following it, with the leader of Hell’s Eight, Caine. Caine through rather unusual circumstances finds himself married to a women he just met named Desi. Upon bringing her home to his ranch, which they call “Hell’s Eight”, he quickly learns that all is not as it seems and he, along with his family, has married her troubles along with her. Of the five books I found Caine’s the hardest to get through mainly because I’m not a huge fan of period pieces in which the woman has to conform to the archaic times and therefore submit to her husbands wishes. However, looking past that this book sets the stage for all to come and is a must read. In the end it becomes known that Desi has a twin sister who is also in trouble and so the rest of the Hell’s Eight men set out to find her, which sets up the rest of the series. Sam, Tucker, and Tracker’s books are all about the search for Desi’s sister, Ari. With Sam and Tucker finding their mates along the way and Tracker finding his mate to be Ari herself. All four of these books are action filled and just what you would expect in a historical western piece…beautiful sunsets, campfires, fun in the saddle, etc. After Desi’s sister, Ari, is recued it becomes apparent that their trouble has not ended and the man behind it all is still after them so once again the men set out to make things right. Tracker’s twin, Shadow, feel’s that it is his place since he is not married to rid them of the threat once and for all but in doing so he becomes an outlaw himself. And so set’s the stage for his book.
Shadow’s book picks up more than a year later. He has been on the run, lying low in Kansas and is growing tired of the hiding game. There is a bounty on his head and he misses home but refuses to return because his love for his family and need to keep them safe is more important than his own homesickness. Fei is a woman in need of a man to keep her safe. In a time when women have no rights and can’t protect what is hers she is desperate for help. So when Shadow finds himself about to be hung, unjustly convicted of horse thieving, he has no choice but to except Fei’s marriage proposal. He soon learns just how much help Fei really needs but unfortunately they have a hard time admitting to their feelings for each other. The sparks between them and the passion is undeniable. But Shadow is half Indian, half Caucasian. And Fei is half Asian, half Caucasian. With both of them feeling unworthy of the other one due to their mixed heritage and not understanding each other’s cultures the misunderstandings between them keep them apart until it is almost too late. Thankfully Fei is as strong as the dynamite that is her weapon of choice and the Hell’s Eight men finally catch up to Shadow and force him to see that running to protect those he loves doesn’t protect them but hurts both them and himself.
This piece is masterfully written. McCarty really out does herself and the amount of time and thought she put into each scene is clear in the flow and well thought out plot. Both of these characters are memorable and pull you in from the first page. This was a joy to read, or listen to since I have this one on audible. The narrator, Savannah Richards, does a wonderful job and really brings the story to life.
If you haven’t tried this series I highly suggest you do. Again, although I enjoyed Caine’s book as a whole if you aren’t a historical piece fan then tough it out and don’t give up on the series. Sam’s book (2nd in series) is a close second to Shadow’s book and will have you hooked. The series as a whole is really well written with a great overall plot and strong, proud honorable men that make you wish you were in a Texas valley curled up with one around a campfire!