Dealing Straight by Emily Veinglory
Richard is worn out, used up, and just plain cynical. Son of a wealthy Bostonian banker, he came west to gamble and carouse when his life fell apart. Though a sensitive and moral man, he finds a reckless life easier to bear—since he has no one to care about and no real hopes for his future.
Brave, beautiful U.S. Marshall Wayne Sneddon wants to change all that. He enlists Richard to help him find and take down a bigwig out to get water rights for himself, regardless of the settlers in the way. In part, Wayne needs help, but more, he wants Richard’s company.
In between the shooting, fighting and intrigue, Richard comes to share Wayne’s feelings…but after he finds the courage to share Wayne’s bed, will he find the courage to share his feelings?
[I like this cover. No naked men and very appropriate. The title is a bit odd as is the name but overall.. decent.]
If you’re anything like me, you may be more familiar with Emily Veinglory as the author of the EREC blog, which keeps up to date in erotic romance industry news. So I was surprised when I realized she is an author as well. This offhand comment had me running to Veinglory’s backlist and selecting a stand-alone story. There are two historicals, I bought both, and this is the first I had an opportunity to read. This particular story is engaging, interesting, and features an anti-hero as the main point of view. Although a rather short novella, the quick pace and light romance fit the historical time period while featuring a traditionally difficult man to like in an engaging light.
Richard is the only son of a wealthy east coast banker and was set to have the perfect life. Married to a debutante and set up with a rich family business, Richard left that life behind when he realized his attraction to other men. At the same time, he became afflicted with an unknown disease but most likely consumption and thus turned his life to gambling and getting by for whatever time he has left. When Marshall Wayne asks Richard for his help on a problem, Richard can’t help his attraction to Wayne or his desire to fight fairly. Both of these desires cause Richard problems while an unexpected offer tempts Richard to give up Wayne and his gambling ways.
The story is told in third person point of view from Richard’s perspective. Richard is not always a great guy. He is struggling with his illness and relatively happy in his life as a gambler. He’s never had a loving relationship, never kissed a guy, and wouldn’t know how to act in the face of caring if he even recognized it. The one thing Richard does know completely is that belief in fairness. He tries to “deal straight” with everyone he comes across, outlaws and Marshalls alike. This solid virtue in a sea of confusion, fear, and sickness gives Richard a strong core. It also causes him a great deal of problems when a shoot first and ask questions later attitude is adopted by most everyone else.
The romance is pretty light considering this is equally a character orientated piece, focusing on Richard, and a plot driven story. The plot deals with Richard and his involvement in a local rich man’s quagmire of politics, money, and water rights. Although Richard is there to help Wayne in an official capacity, he can’t help but understand and sympathize with the tough, straight talking, yet vulnerable family. He is honest with the temptation to enter a loveless marriage but offered the comfort of not dying alone and a good home. Since Richard can’t imagine such a thing with Wayne, nor why the Marshall even puts up with Richard and all his issues, the temptation and struggle is very real and engaging. Although Richard does not emerge from the story a completely changed man, the slight changes should make him more appealing to readers.
The writing itself is non explicit but interesting and keeps the quick paced story moving. The romance is sensual and easy without much angst or problems from others during the time period, more so introspective as Richard muses on his choices. Richard is careful about his sexuality and much more aware of repercussions than Wayne. There is perhaps a little too much acceptance from Wayne’s family but clearly there was a choice not to delve too deeply into that potential conflict. The focus stays on the plot and Richard to its benefit. As a shorter novella, this delivers a good punch with solid characters and an interesting plot. Check it out.
Get it HERE!