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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Little Sam’s Angel by Larion Wills

Little Sam’s Angel by Larion Wills
Publisher: Swimming Kangaroo
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (202 pgs)
Heat Level: sensual
Rating: 4.5 books
Reviewed by Snapdragon

All Gabriel wanted was to leave behind the woman's treachery that'd left him shot down and nearly dead in the street. He needed time to heal body and soul, no longer caring about anyone or anything. He could do that if he got far enough that no one knew him, that he'd ever been called Angel, knew he'd come from Crystal Creek Bluffs, or knew he'd been called a rapist, traitor, and murderer. The town called Crossings wasn't quite far enough.

Little Sam’s Angel is an unexpected delight. It’s a historical western that reads like a romp into a whole new world. Sure, there’s a saloon, the classic livery, even the obligatory hand of poker, yet Larion Wills manages to avoid all the stereotypical character personalities and situations long associated with the western.

The place is a crossing point in the road – and for main character Gabe, it’s a crossing point in his life. Gabe is far from the classic cowboy; he’s not quite recovered his health, and his clothes and the money in his pocket is thanks to charity. Still, we are attracted to the too-thin, slightly sad fellow from the start. Chance has landed him at this little crossroads, although we sense from the start that he is running away from a past disaster. The extent of that past, the horrors of it all, only gradually come to light. We realize Gabe is wounded both body and soul.

He meets lovely, green-eyed Little Sammy under the worst possible circumstances. She’s tough and runs a ranch with an iron hand… but she knows what she wants. She seems full of contradictions – a tough lady who dreams of being somebody’s wife. Funnily enough, both trust Hedges, almost instinctively. We do as well: Ms. Wills makes all her secondary characters complete and believable. Neither of the main characters have trouble sharing hopes and dreams with Hedges – but with one another is not so easy.

Pierce, chief among the bad characters involved here, is as real as any. His hopes, anger and decisions fuel a lot of tension; and put both Little Sam and Gabe in danger. It’s Pierce that really throws an unpredictable element into this mostly fast paced tale.

If I had to complain it would be the thorough side trips into just plain description. These don’t happen a lot, but when they do, they slow and distract from the main story. Fortunately, the main story is engrossing enough so you never want to stop reading: you’re tempted to steam thru the slow bits to get back to the heart of the matter. Small details are often revealed in subtle and unexpected ways. The poker hand reveals something about the different men’s true characters, for example.

Little Sam’s Angel is charming and engaging, intriguing and at times, suspenseful. It absolutely should land in your Must Read pile – and I recommend putting it right at the top.