VERY MILD SPOILERS 😉
Reviewed by Blue Falcon
This review is of Passions Wild and Free, book #2 in the “Western Wind” series by Janelle Taylor.
The book begins in Wadesville, Texas, undisclosed time but after the Civil War. Randee Hollis, the heroine of the book, has plans to go after the Epson Gang, a ruthless band of killers who killed her aunt and uncle, Sara Elizabeth and Lee Carson, when the gang attacked their ranch. (Randee was the only survivor of the attack). She decides to hire a man to help her track down and kill the gang members. Randee finds resistance to her plans from Brody Wade, the sheriff of Wadesville-named after his family-who is in love with her and wishes to marry her.
Randee runs into–literally–Marsh Logan, the hero of the book, and hires him to work with her, believing that he is a notorious gunfighter named the Durango Kid. He’s not, but he is good with a gun and has his own reasons for wanting to find and kill the Epson Gang. As they track the gang, we learn why Randee left her family in Kansas, and she and Marsh give in to their attraction and become lovers.
As they systematically dismantle the Epson Gang, Randee and Marsh come to realize that the gang isn’t just a ragtag group of outlaws, but rather part of a bigger plan, led by someone who wants money and power.
In the end, the gang is brought to justice or killed, as is the big boss of the operation. The real Durango Kid-who is Marsh’s younger brother-appears on the scene. Randee’s family issues in Kansas are resolved. Randee and Marsh have their Happily Ever After.
Both Randee and Marsh are well-developed characters. Mrs. Taylor gives them depth and fills them in as real people. I liked the fact that Randee was a capable person in her own right and Marsh grew to respect her skills.
Passions Wild and Free is ostensibly a historical romantic suspense book. Mrs. Taylor only got one of the three right (The historical part). There is very little chemistry between Randee and Marsh, although they become lovers and adventure partners. There is also very little in the way of suspense; most of the suspense occurs “off-screen.”
I was also quite annoyed with Mrs. Taylor’s overuse of the word “cunning”, which she uses in every book she writes. I wanted to scream several times in the reading of the book: “Why didn’t you use a freakin’ thesaurus, Mrs. Taylor?” I found myself skipping pages because at times, Passions Wild and Free was simply boring.
One other thing: this book is said to be part of a six-book series called “Western Wind”. No character from the first book in the “series”, First Love, Wild Love, appears in Passions Wild and Free. The only thing the two books so far in the “series” have in common is that both are set in Texas, which is not, in my eyes, a connection that warrants a “series” label.
The love scenes are either mostly quick or typical Taylor; in other words, more focused on the feelings of the act than the esoterics of it.
Most of the violence is “off-screen”. On-screen violence includes: assault, battery, shootings, and killings. The violence is not graphic in any way.
Randee and Marsh deserved better than what they got from Mrs. Taylor in Passions Wild and Free.