“Book Review: Guns & Smoke”
Reviewed by Steph Huddleston
An epic romance on an adrenaline-pumping adventure
Set in a dystopian America, in the deserts of Vegas, is an outlaw. Bonnie plays by her own rules and will do anything to protect her freedom from those who would steal it from her again. Jesse James and his brother Harry are on the run too, looking for a future and whatever it may hold. When the paths of Jesse and Bonnie cross, so do sparks, banter and unfortunately for them, danger.
But as this unlikely band of outlaws makes their journey through the rugged landscape, they’ll soon find that you can only outrun your past for so long before it catches up to you.
Co-authors Sevier and Smith have crafted a wonderful story from the beginning with Guns & Smoke. Told in dual perspective from both Bonnie and Jesse’s points of view, readers get deep into the minds, feelings, and histories of the pair. I’ve seen too often an unbalance in the dynamic in romance plots, but this is not the case with Bonnie and Jessie. Bonnie maintains her strength and leadership, and Jesse displays his vulnerability without either compromising who they are as they edge toward each other.
“This was Bonnie. A murdering, one-and-done type of woman. Even if I did like her, I didn’t want just one night.”
The sexual and romantic tension is high throughout the book, with the co-authors expertly teasing both readers and characters with the promise of something more. The constant interruptions may feel a bit tiresome at times, but in the end, it doesn’t hurt the development of the characters and this strong relationship. The scenes with sexual content are not gratuitous, but instead, serve to further the plot and character bonding. This is especially important given the discussions of sexual abuse mentioned in some of the characters’ backstories. The chemistry between Bonnie and Jesse is sizzling, and readers are sure to fall in love with these broken but mending people.
“The sun dipped low toward the horizon, setting the land ablaze in a wash of vibrant red and purple light.”
The plot points and setting are intentionally (and beautifully) reminiscent of an old Western film. Expect gun-slinging outlaws, horse races, long and dusty train rides, as well as a few unexpected plot surprises along the way. The ending of this book is going to leave more than a few readers grasping desperately for the next in the series, just like I was.
Guns & Smoke is a triumph of a book with characters who face real and dark internal struggles and who must learn to accept and face their demons. The supporting characters and worldbuilding are both vibrant and full without depending on too many overused post-apocalyptic tropes. For fans of Joss Whedon’s Westworld (only with a lot more romance), this is well worth adding to your TBR.
Genre: Dystopia / Romance / Thriller
Print Length: 364 pages
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