Second in Sarah McCarty’s Hell’s Eight historical western series about a group of Texas Rangers in the pre-Civil War era, Sam’s Creed achieves what Caine’s Reckoning managed to do. Once again using an erotic backdrop, she creates a mythic western hero, protective, dominant, and emotionally distant – but never cruel – who believes he is not worthy of the heroine who loves him. Said heroines are stronger than you’d think, and discover they love a little pain in their sex lives, along with reveling in being sexual submissives to their men.
On a quest to find the sister of Caine’s wife Desi, Sam discovers a scene on the frontier filled with death. Left alive – and trapped beneath a wagon – is Isabella, a dainty Spanish spitfire who has been on the run for six months from Tejala, a powerful and crazed bandit who killed her father. He plans to marry her in order to get his hands on the ranch her father left her. As soon as he accomplishes this, he will rape and kill her. Tejala already tried the noose on her and she is determined not to give him the same opportunity again. Despite all arguments, Sam insists on accompanying her, along with the stray dog she refuses to leave behind.
The sexual chemistry between the two is undeniable, but Sam does his best to keep away; Bella’s too young for him and deserves a better man than he. She is well-brought up yet headstrong young woman who was indulged by her father, and would rather lose her virginity with Sam than be raped by a murderer. Sam’s wish to protect her virtue is eventually overtaken by his desire for her, and he slowly introduces her to the joys of sex. Their first encounters do not include penetration, and when they do finally consummate their relationship, he ejaculates outside of her body. Sam has an unnaturally strong response to bodily fluids; he craves her “cream,” and whenever he comes on her body, he lovingly rubs it in. Whether that’s too much for a reader to handle is individual, but it’s something to know in advance, as is the fact that the sex in McCarty’s books is not of the vanilla variety. It also verges on the impossible at times; one of the lengthiest scenes between Bella and Sam occurs on a horse and likely would have required the skills of a contortionist.
Sam plans to return her to her mother, then go after Tejala. Bella fears for his life, and her own, as she believes her mother will turn her over to the powerful bandit in some sort of quid pro quo to achieve the status in life to which she was accustomed in Spain. Exactly how this occurs was never adequately explained; it’s among the book’s flaws. Along the way Sam continues his quest to find Desi’s sister. They are heavily into Tejala’s territory, though, and blood is necessarily shed. Eventually they meet up with Tucker, another of the Hell’s Eight looking for the long-lost sister, in one of the towns influenced by the bandit. It doesn’t take Tucker long to realize that his friend is in love; he encourages Sam to follow his heart rather than his sense of honor. A tantalizing hint of a future book in the series occurs with the introduction of the virtuous Quaker widow Sally Mae, whose feelings for Tucker she begins to reveal to Bella.
The reader knows far earlier than Bella that Sam would like to spend the rest of his life with her, but his sense of honor demands that she be given the chance to live in safety rather than being tied to him out of some sense of gratefulness. Meanwhile, Bella worries that she will be spoiled goods once – not if, but once – Tejala gets his hands on her, and vows to kill herself before she’ll let that happen. Whenever Sam thinks about that, he sees red, or perhaps pink, which is the color her behind will be when he paddles her should she try…again, this is not a vanilla read.
It is, though, very much a road romance, and those who enjoy Sarah McCarty will not be disappointed in Sam’s Creed. Readers who enjoy erotic romance but haven’t found an author who can combine it with an historical setting may discover a new auto-buy author…I have, sexual acrobatics, bodily fluids, and unanswered plot points notwithstanding.