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In the frontier town of Belkin’s Pass, as a vampire quietly feeds on the local saloon girls and their customers, a tragedy teaches resident Josh Stanton he has the ability to raise the dead. Knowing he is now a wanted man, Josh flees into the arid plains of Venom Valley. Pursued by Dex, the town deputy and Josh’s best friend, the two realize their friendship is truly something deeper, and Dex has to decide if he’s a man of the law, or a man in love. The vampire, drawn by Josh’s power, circles ever closer, gathering his forces against them.
Josh, a 29 year old man, walks home one day to his dead adoptive mother. It isn’t long before circumstances gives little choice for Josh as he runs for his life from the people of Belkin’s Pass – the very same people who sneer at his existence after the disappearance of his birth mother, who’s believed to be a witch.
Dex is a deputy for the frontier town of Belkin’s Pass. He’s also the authoritative figure while the sheriff’s away. Nothing’s amiss until a witness comes bearing news that his best friend, Josh, is a murderer. Unable to take this news, Dex plans to confront the now missing Josh before the sheriff comes back. Because Dex knows Josh, and one thing he’s not is a murderer.
Glory, a mix of Native American and Caucasian, is struggling to etch a life in Belkin’s Pass as a entertainer at the One-Eyed Rooster. She serves drinks, flirtations and her bed with the customers who want to do more than lose themselves in a good drink. Protected by the spirit of her lover, she will do much to feel that protective presence around her – including putting herself in dangerous situations. However, not even her protector will be enough to save her from an evil presence that makes himself known one fateful evening.
Cowboys & Vampires is a paranormal, post-Civil War story. Told in third person POV from three main characters. It begins with three different plot lines: one for each character, which slowly twine into something engaging for readers of the paranormal genre.
The ambiance of the story was very befitting for a paranormal Western historical, with a background tension that hums to the cadence of suspense that builds throughout the book. Furthermore, all three characters were engaging to read: Josh, the man who lost everything; Dex, the protector and guiding presence; Glory, the woman not afraid to fight.
The romance between Josh and Dex isn’t about falling in love. They both got an extensive history with one another. They already love one another, but never voiced the sentiment. Instead, the romance is more about making it work – both in the reality of Belkin’s Pass, but also in the presence of the walking dead and a threatening evil force. Some may see the romance playing secondary to the plot, but I see it as a glue that ties all three characters together (I hope I didn’t make this sound like MMF story, but it’s not!). It’s also a driving force that pushes Josh from the bleak, dark past and into the here-and-now (or begins to anyway). So to me, this is a romance story. Just not the kind that begins from the beginning (i.e. characters developing feelings for one another), but in the middle (i.e. characters are already in love).
I’m always nervous when it comes to vampire stories, or ones that involve zombies. Most of the time, I feel like I’m watching some cheap B-rated movie with groaning zombies, or vampires (“I vant your blooood”) that are way too cliché. Don’t get me wrong: the zombies in this book do make sounds, and the vampires are pretty much by-the-book. But the dark ambiance of the story helps to quell the cheesiness of it all, making it work well in this Western historical.
My biggest complaint was the head hopping that occurs in the beginning. The blurb never mentioned about a third character, Glory, who ends up taking a good chunk of word count in the first half of the book. I kept getting annoyed, since Glory’s story is separate (at first) from Dex and Josh, which meant less time with my boys. However, I was also captivated by this strong, female character who’s blessed and cursed by the presence of her lover – never to feel his presence until her life’s in danger. Yet despite the odds against her, Glory continued to surprise me with her strong spirit and to do what she feels is right. Towards the later half of the story, Glory got less book-time as the story shifted more between Dex and Josh.
So over all, I very much enjoyed Cowboys & Vampires. It was suspenseful, interesting and sexy – a story that matches the era with a befitting paranormal twist. Just expect some head hopping and slow development before our characters come together.