Zebra Historical Romance 352 pages
Published: Feb 2010 By Georgina Gentry
BLURB ON BACK OF BOOK:
Meet the Texans—rough-hewn heroes as bold and rugged as the Lone Star State itself—in a sweeping new series only Georgina Gentry could bring to heart-pounding, hard-riding life... Diablo.
They call him "Devil," and with good reason. The half-breed Santee Sioux bears the twisted scars that made him the fastest, deadliest gunfighter in Texas. Diablo will never forget the kind cattleman who once took him in, but it is his torturer who haunts his every thought. And when some powerful Wyoming ranchers come looking to hire ruthless men for a wicked job, Diablo seizes the opportunity to settle a score...
Her name is Sunny, and she more than lives up to it. She's a dazzling ray of light—and the bride-to-be of Hurd Kruger, the man who scarred Diablo. What better way to destroy Kruger than to capture, dishonor, and dump his greatest prize? It's a perfect plan, except for the one thing Diablo never counted on...the only thing that could turn him away from the dark side, the angel who could save his bedeviled soul...
Imagine my surprise when I saw the new releases at our small library (Ok, my library is usually a couple of months behind for new releases) but I was in the mood for a western, liked the cover and brought it home. What was the surprise? Another scarred hero! I swear, I did not plan it! I didn't read the back blurb. And I usually do. Diablo, as described above, is a half-breed Santee Sioux whose childhood was non-existent and frankly, quite horrible, he was a slave, and given no name as he was deemed not to deserve one. At 14, He Not Worthy Of A Name (how sad is that?) escapes, and heads for Texas, what he has heard as the 'Promised Land', It's not easy, starving, he comes across some men somewhere in Wyoming who befriend him and feed him, unfortunately, these men are accused of rustling cattle and the boy is caught in the middle
Enter one of the worst villains I have had come across for some time. A drunken Hurd Kruger and his equally drunken henchmen hang the three men, then turn their attention toward the boy. "He's as purty as a girl..." One of the men salivate. You can guess what happens next. Thankfully, Georgina Gentry does not go into any detail, but the humiliation of He Not Worthy is stark and heart-wrenching. But when Kruger picks up the banding iron and applies to the side of the boy's face over and over again, I was ready to round up a posse myself to hunt this sick bugger down
He is found by a man, Trace Durango (who I assume was a character in a previous book) And taken home and nursed by him and his wife. They try to reach him, but the boy is damaged inside and out. Trace does learn the boy to handle a gun. One morning, the boy is gone.
Jump ahead years later, and the boy has grown into a deadly gunslinger known as Diablo. And as with most of these scarred heroes, he is an astounding example of male physical presence, one side of his face incredibly handsome, the other, as Gentry describes, just horrible to look at. 'A monster.' Wow.
Diablo is hired with a passel of other Texas gunfighters to intervene in the Wyoming Range War. Diablo has other plans, to get revenge on the men who branded and scarred him in more ways than one 15 years earlier. Rich rancher Hurd Kruger is at the heart of this range war. God, the man is despicable, down to his smarmy platitudes and his dying his hair black to hide the gray. Now 40, Hurd has his eye on 18 year old Sunny Sorrenson, a blonde beauty and daughter of a friend. He wants to make her his wife. That just upped the ewwww factor for me.
I must say, I found the writer's writing style somewhat distracting, it was repetitive in a lot of areas, especially with regard to the characters inner most thoughts. But, the plot and characterization were so strong, I could over look this as a minor annoyance that passed fairly quickly.
Diablo is sly, sleek and utterly sexy, even with the horrid face, how could he not? And as damaged a hero as I have seen in quite a while. His revenge on Hurd begins with sneaking in over several nights and taking his prized rifle, his dog and his horse. But it is the ultimate prize of Sunny that Diablo decides will hit Kruger where it hurts most.
Now, we all know what happens when the hero takes the heroine captive. Diablo cannot help but be dazzled by not only her blinding beauty, but her 'Sunny' disposition. But she turns out to have real grit, and that makes Diablo admire her all the more. He is tempted to take her against her will, because, really, it is all he has ever known. His white mother was raped, he was raped. Like I said, brutal stuff. He doesn't, deep down, there is some decency amongst the inner scars.
Sunny does turn out to have grit, because like Diablo, I thought her a mouse, she is disgusted by Hurd's attentions, but goes along with it because her father is beholden to the rancher. I think she was glad to be taken and miss her wedding date with the pot-bellied Kruger, old enough to be her father. Can I saw ewwww again!
I will not go into what happens while Sunny and Diablo are together, but it was wonderful to watch as Diablo slowly learns to trust...and love. These two bring out the best in each other, and Sunny proves that real love can look past the outer scars, and heal the ones within.
A rousing adventure, gritty, raw, I really enjoyed this.
3 and 1/2 stars out of 4 for the book
KOVER KUDOS: Well, again, what can they do with a scarred hero except photograph the model in shadow? But I like the look of the model, not a pretty boy by any stretch, but a rugged, real looking cowboy type. Good choice for Diablo.
3 out of 4 stars for the cover
This is just my opinion, my personal take on any given book, use as a reference. I will not be overly gushing. I will also endeavor not to give too much of the plot away.
I will not hand out 4 star ratings for every book, or try not to.*