Tag: Hell’s Eight Series

Guest Review: Caden’s Vow by Sarah McCarty

Posted November 16, 2012 by Judith in Reviews | 0 Comments

Judith’s review of Caden’s Vow (Hell’s Eight #6) by Sarah McCarty

His past has haunted him for a lifetime…but one woman could be his salvation.

Gunslinger Caden Miller’s compadres are becoming a bit too domesticated for his liking. So he’s off to Kansas territory to carve out a living and a space of his own-alone, just the way he likes it.

Maddie O’Hare has been drawn to Caden ever since she escaped to the Hell’s Eight compound from the brothel where she was born and raised. And she’s not ready to let him go so easily…until she’s captured by his new neighbors.

When Caden discovers that Maddie is being held against her will on a nearby ranch, he demands they release his fiancée. Caden is as surprised by his own lie as Maddie is, but the fiery promise in her grateful kiss is far more unexpected. With old enemies catching up with him, Caden and Maddie will face a danger that tests their passion-and will either bind them together forever or break them apart for good.


Eight little boys who hid and escaped a massacre during the Mexican/American War are now grown and have become known as Hell’s Eight.  The ranch they own together is also known as Hell’s Eight and it, like all the ranches in that territory are now in grave danger because a great deal of military presence which had protected the ranchers and settlers is being reassigned to the Civil War.  Now Caden is also facing his own restlessness–all but three of the original eight have found their life partners, are married and having families, and he once again feels it is time to move on–time to keep a promise he made to his dad on that fateful day when he lost everyone he had ever loved.

Maddie has been a part of Caden’s life for a year now–living at Hell’s Eight and recovering after fleeing the whore house where she was born, abused and used since she was eight years old, and trying to regain her sense of reality.  She is a woman whose only salvation, her only psychological and emotional refuge has been retreating mentally to a “safe place” in her mind.  There is a part of Maddie that the dirt, the cruel abuse and the sexual misuse has failed to touch.  But she has come to love Caden as well, even though he appears to see her only as a fallen woman, someone he can easily leave behind.

This story is kind of a sneaky one . . . it appears not to really be going anywhere, but as the bits and pieces of Maddie and Caden’s story gradually come together, the crisis in each of their lives begins to make an impact on their collective experience.  One is readily aware of Maddie’s brokenness and that is very apparent from the first.  But Caden’s own inner turmoil, his own deeply guarded secrets and emotional wounds, while they have been buried deeply, are just as disturbing and dangerous to the future that Caden and Maddie could have together.  It is the kind of story that doesn’t back away from the realities of life in the 19th century Old West for women legally, especially for those who have had no resources or who must rely on selling themselves in order to survive.  Maddie must learn the hard way that she has practically no standing in the community apart from a relationship with a husband, brother, or father.  And for someone who  must make it on her own, it can be a very scary life.

There is an intensity in this novel that I have come to expect in all McCarty novels.  The brash reality of life without any sugar coating is characteristic of her stories and brings the raw edges of trying to survive into the reader’s awareness in sharp relief to the very cushioned life we consider normal in the 21st century.  It was a life where death was only inches away.  And as with all the previous American historicals she has written, Ms McCarty gifts readers with characters who are unusual in many ways while appearing to be what we would expect for that time period.  There are some twists and turns that catch the reader unaware here, while pointing up the deep loyalty and friendship between members of Hell’s Eight, the kind of “brotherhood” of shared experience that allows friends to tell one another the truth and to know when to back away while still offering the support of authentic respect and regard.  It is that kind of honesty that makes it possible for men like Caden and Ace to find their way in a world that is never free of personal and collective danger.

As with all her work, Ms McCarty has written in such a way that words to their work well–each word and phrase carries its own weight in telling the story.  It is a good reading experience besides giving the reader a story that entertains as well as educates.  The love scenes are beautifully written–the tension of true gentleness is perhaps more powerfully demonstrated in this story more than I have experienced in a number of recent books.  As Caden and Maddie’s relationship is pushed and pulled through the knotholes of danger and personal anxiety, they must each decide who they are, what they mean to themselves as well as to each other.  It is a very romantic story in many ways, very sexy and intense, but most of all it is a love story that doesn’t flow smoothly, making it seem oh so  much more real.  It’s a treat for McCarty fans and worth the time to read and enjoy.

I give it a rating of 4.25 out of 5

The Series:
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You can read more from Judith at Dr J’s Book Place.

This book is available from Harlequin HQN. You can buy it here or here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher for an honest review.


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Guest Review: Shadow’s Stand by Sarah McCarty

Posted March 29, 2012 by Judith in Reviews | 0 Comments

Judith’s review of Shadow’s Stand (Hell’s Eight #5) by Sarah McCarty

Shadow Ochoa is lying low in the western Kansas Territory, waiting for his fellow Texas Rangers—the Hell’s Eight brotherhood—to clear his name. That is, until he’s unjustly strung up for horse thieving…and pretty Fei Yen intervenes. Invoking a seldom-used law, the exotic lady prospector claims Shadow as her husband and rides off with the bridegroom shackled to her buckboard.

Savvy, fearless Fei is single-mindedly devoted to her hidden claim and all it promises: wealth, security and freedom. A husband is just a necessary inconvenience and a name on paper to hold the claim she cannot.

Shadow isn’t a man to take orders from anyone, especially from lovely Fei—except that the daily friction between them ignites into nightly blazes of all-consuming passion. Soon Shadow is dreaming a little himself: of the life they could have if only Fei could see past the lure of independence. If only bounty hunters weren’t closing in on him. If only he’s left standing when the impending showdown has ended.

He’s huge and he’s gorgeous, bearing the obvious appearance of one of mixed heritage–Native American and Mexican–and a man who has been defamed and insulted on that basis alone. Now he is dangling at the end of a rope for horse theft, when in deed he was retrieving his own horses. His only hope: if a woman wishing to marry him cuts him down. (Only in the American West, eh?) And that’s just what happens, when a woman who is half Chinese and half American decides that she needs him to protect her as she tries to work out a very complicated set of circumstances which involve, in part, freeing her Chinese cousin from an unprincipled man to whom Fei Yen’s father has sold her. (The American West wasn’t a good place for any women, it would seem.)

The continuing stories of Hell’s Eight, a finely tuned group of strong and independent warriors with the Texas Rangers are some of Sarah McCarty’s finest. Strong, Alpha-type men who have come through hell–thus the name–as their families were massacred and their community plundered, barely surviving and only with the help of a few individuals who reached out to them. Now they are each having to deal with their inner demons, and none more troubled that Michael (Shadow) Ochoa, a man of strange extremes and one who is not afraid to show strength one minute and tenderness the next to strangers, but is scared stiff of opening his heart to a little Chinese American woman who is wise beyond her years and who loves him without reserve. The only thing she insists on is complete honesty and her fearless pursuit of the real person who is Shadow Ochoa is almost his undoing and the death of the tenuous relationship they call a frontier marriage.

I have long delighted in Ms McCarty’s stories after having read one of her other American Western historical series and found her writing to be stimulating to the imagination and a treat for the brain, but also heart warming and resonating with genuine human qualities, with characters that speak of the best and worst that people can be. She does not paint the American West with a gilded brush, choosing to deal realistically with persons and situations that often existed outside both legal and moral boundaries which celebrating relationships that could only have existed where a greater amount of legal and moral freedom was to be found. Life was hard and it was even harder for women. Consider that a woman was of mixed race, and she was even more invisible and thought to be even less of a person of worth. Yet this story’s heroine knows how to deal with the issues she knows are hers, the burdens of society’s prejudice, and yet she is willing to beggar herself in many ways in order to bring the best to this man whose inner wounds have never turned him loose.

Lastly, the continuing story of the loyalty and friendship that binds Hells’ Eight together form a very important part of this story. For each of these men and especially for Shadow, their relationship, their support, their friendship and regard are his true “home.” And even in the darkest moments of this novel, the existence of those ties are what keep Shadow sane and possibly just a little hopeful. Best of all, each of these men can be trusted to do whatever it takes to do right by one another, even if that means telling truths that don’t want to be heard, crashing into situations where their presence can be unwanted, or dragging one of their compatriots out of circumstances where they wrongly choose to be. They are, in a word, true friends. As an ancient text proclaims: “Greater love has no man than this: that a man will lay down his life for a friend.” Such a love is at the heart of this story.

Don’t miss this one. It is truly a keeper. I give it a rating of 4.5 out of 5.

The series:
Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover

You can read more from Judith at Dr J’s Book Place.

This book is available from HQN Books. You can buy it here or here in e-format.


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Review: Caine’s Reckoning by Sarah McCarty

Posted December 5, 2007 by Holly in Reviews | 10 Comments

Review: Caine’s Reckoning by Sarah McCartyReviewer: Holly
Caine's Reckoning by Sarah McCarty
Series: Hell's Eight #1

Publication Date: May 1st 2013
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Erotica, General
Pages: 480
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-half-stars

The Hell's Eight is the only family he's ever needed...until he meets the only woman he's ever wanted. Caine Allen is a hardened Texas Ranger — definitely not the marrying kind. But when he rescues a kidnapped woman and returns her to town, the preacher calls in a favour...one Caine’s honour 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 body, her demands...everything. Yet there’s still a bounty on Desi’s head, and keeping her satisfied is proving easier than keeping her alive. 'Intense, edgy and passionate, this is old-school historical romance at its finest.' - Romantic Times 'Caine’s Reckoning is a can't-put-it-down adventure story...Superb writing and characterisation, along with a well-described setting, bring the story alive and pull readers into the action.' - Romance Reviews Today

I just decided to do a lightning review for this book. Mostly because I’m lazy, but also because Casee already wrote up a great review with a good description of the book, so now I don’t have to. Thanks, Casee!!

There’s been a lot of hype about this book in blogland. Pretty much every site I’ve visited has recommended it. It was ok, but not great like I thought it would be from all the hype.

My big issues stem from the heroine. She was a mass of contradictions. I thought I would be shocked by her past and feel an emotional connection to her because of it, but instead I was just annoyed with her and the way her past was..not glossed over, but certainly overcome in a rather trite way. I think I expected a major moment…something to help Desi heal from her past, and I just never got it. It wasn’t that there wasn’t some emotional depth here, it’s just that it was lost somewhere in translation. I still don’t understand how she didn’t suffer more from her past. In the beginning it seemed she was really scarred, but by the middle of the book she was kind of like, “Eh, I’m over it, let’s have sex now”. And then she was like, “Eh, I don’t want to have sex because of my past.”

She was also portrayed as strong, intelligent woman, and that was confirmed in the opening scene of the book, when she fought off three uber bad guys. But over the next hundred or so pages (Side Note:: When I transfer a book to my eReader it lists the pages differently. Where a book might be 400 pages, it shows as 700 on my Reader, so I have no way of knowing what page I’m on exactly, or even how many pages are in a certain book..and you know, I’m just too darn lazy to go look elsewhere ::End Side Note) she seemed lacking in strength. Or maybe not lacking, but not putting her strengths to good use.

I honestly can’t put my finger on just one thing that bothered me. It was just a bunch of little things. Like the first time she and Caine have sex. She seemed more than willing, even though he went a little farther than I think he should have considering she’d been used as a sex slave for a year. That whole, “Give it to me, babee” thing seemed off. Then, every time they were getting intimate after that, she really struggled with it, having flashbacks and stuff. It was pretty inconsistent.

I also felt there were some plot holes. I realize this is the first book in a series and SM had to set up the rest, but the premise behind her plot – that Desi was being used as a sex slave because of her inheritance – seemed to lack depth. We were left to wonder who exactly was pulling the strings, but in the last chapter Desi wrote a letter to her twin sister and named the man, only we never saw them finding it out. We also never saw Caine and the other men from Hell’s Eight go after the 6 bankers who used Desi, or them finding out additional information. I’m still not sure how Desi got kidnapped in the first place, seeing as how she was chained to a bed. I’m thinking a lot of these issues will be cleared up in future books, but I was left unsatisfied.

Despite that, however, I enjoyed this book. Sarah McCarty has a strong writing voice that flows well, and I was absorbed in the story. Caine was a good hero, and his patience with Desi was admirable. I truly felt their emotional connection, even if I couldn’t see Desi’s emotional issues. He’s strong, stubborn and possessive, but not in a creepy stalker type way. And I really liked his relationship with his “brothers”, the other men who formed Hell’s Eight. I have a lot of male relatives, and they interact about the same way.

I’m very anxious to read the next book in this series, and find out what happened to Desi’s sister. I’m assuming all 8 men will each have a story, and that makes me happy. And you know, A happy Holly is a good thing. 😛

Overall the book was well written with an engaging story, good hero and interesting plot. It had some issues, so I’m giving it:

3.5 out of 5

I’ll be looking for the rest of Sarah McCarty‘s books, too. You can buy it here or here.

three-half-stars


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