The Bounty was originally published with another e-publisher, but has been significantly edited and expanded (adding about 5,000 words) for the Samhain reissue. It is worth another look if you enjoyed it the first time, and is a treat for Western Historical fans as well as those who have never tried a book by Beth Williamson.
Tyler Calhoun is a tough bounty hunter who always gets his man. Only his world goes a little off-center when bad guy “Nicky” turns out to be “Nicole.” Regardless of her sex, Tyler decides he has six thousand reasons to bring her in. Since the bounty is female, Tyler figures this will be a quick job and put him on the road to retiring at his ranch. So, ignoring what his momma taught him, he takes the job. After losing her once, Tyler is on his way to bringing in his cash cow when the real problems begin. He can’t help but admire anyone, much less a woman, who has been on the run for three years, managed to allude him for three months and then saved his life when she could have sat back and watched him die.
I know – been there, done that, have the book. But as much as some of the elements of the story are clichés, there are enough differences to shake it up. The writing is funny, entertaining and the first thing that draws Tyler to Nicky is her strength and intelligence. And though Tyler and Nicky both find the other attractive, it isn’t Lust at First Sight. Yes, that increases as the story progresses, but not enough to bug me.
The setup is great and the information we are provided about the events and thoughts of the characters match their actions. The pacing of the story flows well and time moves forward quickly without huge information dumps; no charts are needed to figure out what is going on. And, the longer time span allows us to truly buy into the love story.
Nicky isn’t your clichéd Innocent Miss trapped in the Old West who, we are told repeatedly, is tough and can take care of herself while she whines, screams and waits for the hero to save the day. She was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and because of it has been on the run for three years – and she acts like it. And best of all she isn’t shown as a fragile flower who doesn’t know what goes on “down there.” While her virtue is, sadly, a touch hard to believe, it is understandable why she would cling to it.
Nicky can be annoying at times but then, she is trying to annoy Tyler for about half of the story, Eventually it becomes a bit much. And for two such smart characters, some of their actions make no sense, which have them encountering problems that should have been completely avoided.
But these drawbacks, added to a slightly over the top ending, don’t detract from the story enough to make me dislike it. It is a Western! It is a road romance! Those two things are tough to find together, and I am glad to have Beth Williamson and e-books around. If you miss the Western genre, or wish to try a new author, I can recommend The Bounty. Its sequel, The Prize, is now available at Samhain with two more books in the series to follow in June and July. I hope they are just as good.