Sunday, August 18, 2019

Book Review: 'Wilder Hearts' by Lilly Gayle

Wilder Hearts: A Western Hearts Novel (Book 2) by [Gayle, Lilly]
North Carolina author Lilly Gayle has penned and published eight books in the realm of paranormal and historical romances. She is a breast cancer survivor and to add to the drama of that she works as a mammographer and x-ray technologist. A wife, mother and grandmother, Lilly attributes her passion for writing to her mother and both grandmothers who taught her a love and respect for history, and she credits her love for reading and passion for writing to three wonderful teachers, no doubt hoping that her daughters will embrace the same fascination with history and science fiction and historical romance.

Lilly serves an hors-d'oeuvre in opening her novel a very tasty way to grab the reader’s attention: ‘Jake saw the boy creeping through the grass before he reached the tree. He waited until the skinny little thief actually picked up the shirt before springing into action. The kid screamed like a girl and tried to take off, but Jake was hot on his heels. He grabbed the kid by the shoulders and spun the would-be robber around. The kid's hat fell off at the same moment the face registered in Jake's memory. Ellie! Her gray eyes widened and dark hair fell past her shoulders. Then her gaze dropped to his chest, and he remembered he was naked. Her cheeks flamed as she turned her head away, looking at the hand still resting on her shoulder--her bare, naked shoulder. His rough handling had torn the top buttons free from her shirt, and the garment now hung halfway down her arm revealing the silky strap of her chemise and the upper curve of one breast--one ripe, round breast as smooth and pale as porcelain. Damn. As if he needed another reminder of his unclothed state, his lower half reminded him just how naked he was. Naked and hard. His eyes dropped to his crotch at the same time Ellie's did. He groaned. She screamed. Then she tore her shoulder from his now limp grasp and ran up the hill. He didn't give chase. In the state he was in, he didn't think it was possible.’

Granted this happens well into the story that is both a Western mystery and a romance and with a bit of history inserted for credibility. The author’s synopsis is superb: ‘Writing about the outlaw, Jake the Snake, could be the opportunity of a lifetime—if it doesn’t get her killed. When Ellie Wilder takes her sister from their grandfather's home, she's determined to put her family back together and write of their adventures. Then she runs into Jacob Harper, a man who resembles Jake the Snake, a notorious outlaw who once rode with Billy the Kid. Is it possible the outlaw who escaped justice has mended his ways? Or is the handsome Mr. Harper now murdering servant girls in Austin? Finding out the truth could be the journalistic opportunity of a lifetime. Former Texas Ranger Jake Harper has returned to Texas to help solve the Servant Girl Annihilator murders. But when a similar murder occurs in Harmony, Texas, Jake goes undercover as Jake the Snake to find a connection between the series of brutal murders. Then Ellie Wilder shows up. Her snooping could blow his cover and get her killed, but Ellie soon becomes a bigger threat to his heart than his investigation.’

Try to resist good old-fashioned story weaving (with a hefty bit of steam tossed in for the id of it). Lilly Gayle is one fine tale spinner and never for a moment does she let our attention wander. Very fine book (including the equally fine cover!). Grady Harp, May 16

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.