Tracker’s Sin was labeled an Erotic Western, and despite my misgivings that some genres simply shouldn’t be mixed, I gave it a go. What can I say, the e-book was on sale. Sadly, the combination ended up far more milk and Pepsi than peanut butter and chocolate, and I sure won’t be trying it again any time soon.
Half-Mexican, half-Native American Tracker Ochoa, one of the Hell’s Eight outlaws-turned-Texas-Rangers, is on a mission to find Ari Blake, the twin sister of his compadre’s wife. Ari was abducted in an ambush when her family had traveled west and sold to Comancheros and her sister has been looking for her ever since she was rescued. Following a solid lead, Tracker expects to find a damaged, defeated woman whom he will rescue and take home to Hell’s Eight where she can hopefully begin healing. What he doesn’t expect is to find Ari living with an elderly couple, seemingly happy, and the mother of a six month old son.
Ari can’t remember anything before the moment she woke up under the protection of a couple claiming to be her in-laws. They tell her that her husband was murdered and that she can live with them and give birth to the baby she is carrying. She can’t understand why they don’t speak much about her life with their son, and she often has “episodes” which cause her to black out. Also, she’s worried about the bad men in town who seem to be threatening her adoptive father for some reason.
Some crazy shenanigans ensue which result in Tracker “marrying” Ari Native American style, and in order to escape the oncoming hoard of Comancheros who are after Ari so that they can sell her to the man who arranged the initial ambush meant to kill everyone in her family. They must escape with baby Miguel and head to Hell’s Eight territory.
This book was simply all over the place. Let’s begin with the bizarro pacing.
In one day, as far as I can tell, Tracker plows up a field, evokes a “episode” in Ari when she first spots him, goes to town to get a drink, rescues Ari when she runs to town (carrying her baby) to find him after scary dudes on horses show up at the ranch, faces down a passel of evil men who want to assault Ari (because don’t they all want to assault her?), returns home with Ari where she proceeds to seduce him and they have very explicit sex only to be caught by her father-in-law who insists that they get married. Say what?! All of that happens in one day, yet later in the book, two whole chapters are given over to Ari and Tracker having sex. If that doesn’t show you the book’s true priorities, you’re missing something.
As a hero, Tracker is a bit of a creeper. Ari asks him to help keep her adoptive father safe. As payment, she tells him can have “anything you want”. Mind you, she says this with tears in her eyes, and Tracker is well aware of the brutal sexual assaults the woman had most likely endured when she had been held captive. Rather than take a step away, he caresses her arm and thinks to himself Take her up on her offer and how it wouldn’t be the first time he’d traded services for sex. I’m sorry, but WTF kind of hero would even think this?
Too, given Ari’s sexual abuse at the hands of her captors, there was something a bit distasteful about her brazen seduction of Tracker, a virtual stranger, less than twelve hours from having first met him. Even with her memory loss as an excuse for why she feels so much desire for him and absolutely zero inhibitions, it seemed that she should have some subconscious mechanism that would be trying to protect her from harm, both physical and emotional. I could have seen such a situation if he’d at least had a few days to earn her trust. Or at least more than two conversations.
I think the above problems are a result of trying to shoehorn erotica into a western, resulting in sex scenes that just seemed anachronistic to me. When Ari and Tracker engaged in extensive dirty talk…excuse me, love talk…and modern slang was used for body parts, the whole thing became comical. I felt like I was watching a soft-core porno in which the characters had dressed up in costumes.
There were several smaller stupid things. Ari recalls some factoid about the reputation of the guys of Hell’s Eight, despite the fact that she has no memory of anything prior to the last year of her life. Tracker’s twin and fellow Hell’s Eight dude, Shadow, gives a six month Miguel some bean burrito because the baby was hungry. Ari is forced to climb up a cliff wall with a baby strapped to her and men shooting guns. I could go on.
And in the end, we get the requisite conflict of Tracker thinking that as a person of mixed breeding, the blond-haired, blue-eyed Eastern Ari isn’t going to want him so he has to end things for her own good. Sigh.
One thing I did like. When Ari and Tracker are escaping, baby Miguel actually acts like a real baby probably would in such a situation. He cries and carries on, causing them concern that his presence will alert the bad guys. The whole thing is rather stupid, but at least it’s realistic.
This book is part of a series, and it’s chock full of sequel bait and past characters. I frankly didn’t care enough to be bothered by mentions of past events and so it read perfectly fine as a stand-alone for me.
If you enjoy erotica in which the characters are basically dressed up like Texas Rangers, Native Americans, and frontier women, you might like Tracker’s Sin. I…didn’t.