Review:Homesteads and Horseradish by Kiernan Kelly

Brace is none too happy to find a greenhorn building a sod house at the base of his mountain. In fact, he’s determined to run the little fellow right off his land. Unfortunately for Brace, Gaylord Quinn has nowhere else to go, and he has a patent from the US Land Office saying he has full rights to the land.

Quinn is scared to death of Brace, but he’s even more scared of having to return to a life he managed to escape. He needs the security of a new home. His dire circumstances might convince Brace to help him, but it will be the friendship that springs up between the men that endures. Will the friendship turn into something more?

Review by Mark R. Probst

Homesteads and Horseradish by Kiernan Kelly is a short and sweet “ingredient” in Torquere Press’s “Spice It Up” series. At 12,500 words it is closer to a short story than a novella and the download is priced accordingly.

Brace is a cantankerous young man who has detached himself from society to live like a hermit in a homestead he built atop his mountain, among the Teton Range. When a bespectacled, rather wimpy New Yorker named Gaylord shows up with a patent giving him legal claim to a section of Brace’s land, he’s having none of it, making idle threats to try and frighten this squatter off his land. Gaylord has been running from something and feels he has nothing to lose so he summons up the courage to defy Brace and stick to his legal claim. When things don’t go well for the ill-prepared Gaylord, Brace takes pity on him and decides to give the poor sap a helping hand. Eventually a friendship blossoms and they discover they have both been running away from the same demon, yes that persistent little desire that dare not speak its name.

What I appreciated about this story was its restraint. Most erotic romance these days tends to jump right into the hot stuff in the first page or two. Kelly takes her time to let the relationship between the two slowly develop before finally opening the floodgates at the very end.

It is a pleasant story. The two characters have distinct personalities that make them likable. Brace’s stubborn, antisocial demeanor slowly melts away and Gaylord’s timidity is countered with the savvy he picked up growing up as a street urchin. There are a few instances where the language seems a bit out of place for the nineteenth century setting, though overall the feel of the period is pretty accurate. Since the setting is an isolated homestead in the middle of nowhere, there really isn’t much reference to 19th century civilization or customs.

While my own personal taste would have been for a much lower heat level, I understand that the very high heat level in the finale is what Torquere’s fan base will be anticipating, so you can weigh that accordingly.

This is the first I had read of Kelly’s work, but based on this sample I would definitely read more. Her other novels set on the American frontier include In Bear Country and In Bear Country II: The Barbary Coast.

Author’s website

Buy at Torquere Press

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