Book Review: Leather and Lace
Reviewed by Steph Huddleston
A western-dystopian filled with the kind of angst, drama, and swoon-worthy romance that readers will wish every sequel delivered.
The next installment of The Fool’s Adventureseries has been well worth the wait. In Leather & Lace readers reunite with Jesse James, as he searches for Bonnie, who was kidnapped at the end of the first book, Guns & Smoke.
But after three years of fruitless searching, the sweet farm boy is a changed man and has made his way in the world as the hardened fighter: Montana. When he eventually tracks down the woman he loves, he discovers that the last three years have changed her too. Jesse must navigate the strict socialite world of New Orleans to attempt to win Bonnie’s heart again. Bonnie follows along with the life laid out for her as the daughter of one of the most dangerous men in New Orleans..
When the fighter Montana arrives in her life, she finds the questions she’s suppressing surging to the surface. Following her father’s plans may finally win her the acceptance and love she craves. But the cost of that love may be marrying a rich businessman from Manhattan and ignoring the confusing feelings Montana stirs in her heart.
After such a successful debut novel, readers may fear that the sequel would suffer from the dreaded “second book syndrome.” But fears that this book won’t live up to the first are unfounded. Leather & Lace is a success and delivers just as much joy and thrills as its predecessor, wrapped up in the same enticing western dystopian packaging.
Much of this joy comes from the opportunity to see our main characters, Jesse and Bonnie fall in love all over again. Add in the additional angst of Jesse being aware of their history, and it makes for a romance that you can’t help but root for. Through this exploration, readers also experience new sides to characters who have been realistically changed by the passage of time and the traumas they have experienced. This complexity of characters who are reuniting is refreshing, as we see them come to terms with the changes within themselves and each other.
“I wouldn’t have thought it possible to fall in love with two separate parts of the same person. But could she love me back? Especially when she learned the truth? I wanted her to see me, to know me, to love me.”
Thematically, the book delves into the idea of worthiness and “being enough” for those we’re in relationships with. It’s compellingly explored in part through the toxic relationships within the book, in particular with the new characters we meet such as Bonnie’s father, as well as Sebastian, who is Will Ellis’s on-again-off-again boyfriend.
When these negative relationships are contrasted with the others in the book (such as Will Ellis and Savannah), the themes shine all the brighter.
Will Ellis’s journey throughout Leather & Lace is undeniably dark and dives deeper than in the first book. As his presence in Guns & Smoke demonstrated the potential in this character, it is rewarding to see the authors’ flesh him out with nuance. We can only hope that Will continues to be a strong fixture in the series. His character does much of the work in reinforcing the messages of grief, perseverance and the freedom that can be found in love and acceptance from others.
“Bonnie was the only person who saw me for exactly who I was and loved me in spite of it. It didn’t matter how reckless or offensive I could be. It never mattered.
“Not to her.
“But Bonnie was gone.”
The only potential drawback to the reading experience is the notable absence of favorite characters from the first book, notably The Kid, who although referenced, does not appear directly. But even so, given the events and scope of this book, their absence makes sense with other characters, such as Savannah and Will having a much larger role in this book.
While Leather & Lace is clearly intended to be read as a follow-up to Guns & Smoke, the authors have provided effective background information so that newcomers to the series will not be left confused. Based on the book’s ending and the expansion of worldbuilding in this installment, readers can surmise that this is likely not the end of The Fool’s Adventure series—and I’m thrilled to see what comes next. I highly recommend this series for romance fans seeking an adventure.
Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy / Dystopian / Romance
Print Length: 494 pages
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