SHADOW'S STAND - Sarah McCarty
Hell's Eight Series
Kansas Territory - 1859
Trying to stay out of sight in the Kansas Territory while fellow Texas Rangers attempt to clear his name, Shadow Ochoa does anything but. With a noose around his neck, he's about to be hanged for a crime he didn't commit, but in this wild, lawless area, it's what the locals say that goes. And they want to hang an Indian for allegedly stealing a horse. Just as the deed is about to be done, a tiny ball of fire climbs up and cuts him down, claiming him as her new husband. Unnerved by the woman's gall, the townspeople go along with her invoking of a rarely used law. Soon Shadow finds himself married, then shackled in the back of a wagon heading out of town.
Fei Yen has her own reasons for doing what she did. First of all, she's appalled that someone could be killed without any proof; second, as a person of mixed heritage herself, she felt obliged to help. But the real reason is that Fei needs someone to protect her while she secrets gold out of the area, and, as a woman, she cannot register her claim. Her father, whom she has to keep secluded due to his growing insanity, works with the locals as an explosives expert, although no one knows it's really Fei who is doing his work. Fei hopes she can get her new husband to help her, although she has no intention of actually being a real wife.
It doesn't take Shadow long to figure out what's going on. While he, too, has problems that are still in need of attention, he will abide by his marriage vows and help the lovely Fei. His background is not dissimilar to hers, with a childhood that was less than wonderful, and being half Indian hasn't helped him much, either. Hopefully his fellow Rangers, known as the Hell's Eight, will track him down and have some good news for a change. In the meantime, Shadow has a full time job just keeping himself and his new wife safe.
SHADOW'S STAND is book five in the Hell's Eight series. Not having read the previous stories, I didn't have any trouble understanding Shadow's past, but I would recommend reading them just the same. Shadow and Fei have much more in common than not, and they soon grow to realize that. There is plenty of adventure, and the knowledge that someone is after them keeps the tension high. But there is also a fair share of romantic scenes that soften that tension.
Exciting, well written, with great lead characters, SHADOW'S STAND is a terrific read.