Title: Wild as the West Texas Wind
Series: Love Across Time #3
Publication Date: February 21, 2019
Length: 327 pages
Reviewed by Sammy
Soulmates across time. Two hearts that were meant to be together.
In present day, Zach takes a road trip to Trinidad to find information on a missing friend.
In 1892, Layton Blue, outlaw, longs for hearth and home even as he treasures his life of freedom.
A freak rainstorm washes Zach's car into a ditch, sending him back to the year 1892. Searching for help, alone and on foot in the middle of the nowhere, he crosses paths with the famous Ketchum Gang. Now the gang’s prisoner, Zach’s fate is to be sold at a seedy auction for whores.
Layton is put in charge of making sure Zach does not escape, but as the chemistry between them grows, Layton finds himself wanting to help Zach.
Can Layton overcome years of being on the run? Can Zach accept help from an outlaw?
Author Jackie North is undisputedly one of the best historical fiction writers on the m/m scene today. Once again she spins a yarn so realistic you feel as though you are transported back in time and are living the story as you read it. Wild As the West Texas Wind is the third of her Love Across Time novels and is definitely tied to the second in this series, Honey From the Lion. While it may not be critical to read the second book before this one I would highly recommend doing so as there are recurring characters and this new story hinges on events from the previous novel.
In this case, we see Zach, Laurie’s best friend, take a trip to the town that was mentioned in a strange western union telegram from the late 1800’s that was delivered to him in the present day. Knowing only that Laurie disappeared a second time after visiting a dude ranch to get away from the stress of his day job, Zach is desperate to find some trace of his friend and try to figure out what has happened to him since his disappearance. Just how was it possible that Laurie had sent a telegram over a hundred years ago to Zach? Zach was determined to find out and travels to the town mentioned in the letter.
During the trip a freak storm finds Zach losing control of his car as it’s swept away in a flash flood. He manages to reach higher ground only to find himself somehow transported back in time to the very year the telegram Laurie had sent was dated. Unfortunately Zach mistakenly interrupts a card game and exposes a notorious outlaw’s cheating ways while doing so. Now Zach is taken captive by the Ketchum gang and bound to be sold as a sex slave in an auction a few weeks hence. His only ray of hope lay in the hands of one of the gang members, Clayton Blue. But Clayton has lied to himself for the past five years about their leader Tom and allowed himself to be made to do things he is no longer happy doing—including escorting the slight young man who has somehow made Layton feel things he has kept buried deep for his entire life. Can Layton really stand up to Tom and save poor Zach from slavery?
I think Layton Blue is by far the best character this series has seen yet. He is such a simple man yet so very unhappy. He has gotten along with the murderous Tom Ketchum by convincing himself that somewhere in the evil heart that resides inside Tom is some small affection and regard for the boy the thief plucked from a horrible existence five years before. Gratitude and no small amount of fear has kept Layton in line—robbing and thieving with the gang while hiding his gold coins away for the day he can leave the gang and it’s violent life behind. He longs for a little house and someone to be with—someone to light the lamps and play his harmonica for and love. But how that can ever happen is a mystery to Layton and a dream he fears he will never achieve. Then Zach comes along and things that seemed impossible begin to take on a reality that scares poor Layton silly even while it makes him dream of things he never thought possible.
I just loved Layton—he tugged at my heart in so many ways. All he wanted was just a tiny bit of happiness and the idea that Tom Ketchum would never allow him that was infuriating. I, for sure, wanted to see Tom get his and while I cannot tell you if that comes to pass I can tell you that there is a hard fought happy ever after for Zach and Layton and that makes every other part of this story worthwhile. I hated Tom with a passion and the things poor Zach and Layton endured made me cringe. However, the slow burning romance that grew between these two men was so incredibly sweet. I really must applaud the author for the ways in which this novel ended—some may consider it a happy for now but I think the way in which Zach declares his love for Layton assures us that theirs is a forever kind of passion.
This was a fast paced, edge of your seat kind of story that never let up. The few moments where Zach and Layton had time to breath were short-lived but beautiful and then they were back in the clutches of a nefarious and actual historical figure, Tom Ketchum, who was perhaps the nastiest but best written bad guy to ever grace a western historical novel. I really enjoyed this third book of the series and look forward to what I hope will be Maxton’s story in the next novel.
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