Bitter Creek is a town on the brink of war. Lines are being drawn and sides taken as two powerful men gather armies of gunfighters. The townspeople are helpless and the law worthless. One man has already died in the opening salvo of this land war and an air of fearful anticipation hangs over the town. Eagle, the half-breed who works at the livery stable, manages to survive by not taking sides, until one day a stranger rides into town. Eagle’s life changes, and he realizes that he can no longer hide with his horses if he wishes to be the man he claims to be…
Review by Aleksandr Voinov
Travis Ramsay is the “Helper” in his widely extended family – the one homeless rover who appears when somebody in his family needs help, whether it’s driving cattle or standing by his family in a shoot-out. When his brother Ralph is murdered, he comes to Bitter Creek to investigate and avenge his brother’s death. He meets the Comanche half-breed Eagle, who was with Ralph during his last hours, and the attraction between the men is instant. But there are feuding cattle barons, a cunning murderer, gunslingers and not least of all Travis’ duty, his family and a whole load of prejudice to keep them apart.
For the most part, I enjoyed “Bitter Creek Redemption” as a light holiday read in the stupor of a Turkish summer midday. I still have some niggles about the text; Eagle, the halfbreed Comanche, doesn’t actually develop at all as a character, and I found his sometimes smug superiority rather grating. Travis, on the other hand, had a whole lot of growing up to do, overcoming teenage trauma, his ‘Helper syndrome’ as well as his reputation as a stone-cold killer with some of the cast.
Wrecked by insecurity on the inside, and appearing aloof and apart from the others on the outside, he was certainly the most interesting character in the book, and there’s certainly enough going on to keep things interesting and not bogged down with just relationship drama. There are real impediments to their relationship, and the author goes to great pains to tell us that homosexual relationships face harsh odds when they become more than a fumble in the hay, but, satisfyingly for romance readers, the main couple takes that risk in the end.
Speaking about the setting, I would have liked more of a flavour of the Old West. While the Civil War, the railway and the rough frontier justice was mentioned and the story moves between Bitter Creek, Ralph’s farm and the Indian camp, the world could have used more description for my taste to really immerse the reader. The description is so sparse that for the most part, we don’t even know what people look like.
In addition, a lot of what the characters say rings too modern to me, and there’s a fair bit of kitchen psychology coming into play as the actions of the characters don’t speak for themselves, but are explained either by the author or by the supporting cast to make sure the readers suffers from no ambiguities. Personally, I like wondering about character’s actions and don’t need any supplied explanation, but this might not be true for every reader.
There are also several editing issues (often, past tense is used when it should have been past perfect, confusing the reader about the actual sequence of events), and a few sentences that make no sense. “He resisted the urge to blush” is one of them. Last time I blushed, I didn’t think it was much of an urge and I certainly had no choice to suppress it. That said, these issues are not bad enough to seriously detract from the story.
Since this is a historical m/m erotic romance, there is sex, but not without rhyme or reason, as in other historical m/m romances I’ve read recently, and the prose is rock-solid and certainly stands out as some of the better and less sentimental writing in the genre. Absolutely read it as a solidly enjoyable read at the pool if you like Westerns and want to spend a couple hours with a romance.