Title: One More Ride
Author Name & Publisher: J. Hepburn (Less Than Three Press)
Publication Date & Length: Jan 19th, 2015
Amanda runs the only hotel in a young town on the edge of white settlement in Australia. It’s a far cry from the life she used to lead, a life only her business partner knows anything about, and she prefers it. But when bush-rangers hold the hotel at gunpoint, threaten everyone in it, and ride off with the contents of the safe, it’s an insult she can’t let slide.
Set on vengeance, Amanda swallows her pride and seeks help from the two men she parted ways with long ago. But the past stirred by their company is harder to ignore than anticipated, and Amanda struggles both with the deadly fight in front of them and the old desires she though she left behind.
I wasn’t wowed by this piece at all; however, it was still a decent read. This book came to me as labeled steampunk and polyamorous, both of which I would say this story is not, so that might have put me off a bit. The only bisexual characters are Nathanial and Devin, while Amanda/Mandy remains very clearly straight. This is a ménage piece, and there is definitely a difference between ménage and poly.
The story itself was interesting. I did love Amanda, at least for most of the story. However, I find in ménage pieces that the woman often becomes “the weakest link” and the one who breaks down what’s going on. I had hopes that this wouldn’t be the case in this story because her character was so well-built and tough and no-nonsense. However, it still happened, and that disappointed me.
I also felt this story was divided between the action/plot of what was going on and the romance. There wasn’t an even blend of the two happening at once. The plot was wrapped up very quickly, and we were left with the romance that wasn’t romance (I wish there had been more sexual tension throughout the piece).
For a western, this was a great read. Reminded me of shows I watched growing up as a kid. For a romance, I was disappointed (I only add this because the author specific says he enjoys romance over violence in stories). For steampunk, it was non-existent. For polyamorous, it was the same. I was looking for a poly story, one that represented an underrepresented aspect of the rainbow (which is what I tend to like to read), and I did not find it.
J. Hepburn lives with his partner, several kilts, an Irish Wolfhound, two cats, an indeterminate number of wild birds and, sometimes, a passing python. He cares enough about coffee to not only grind his own, but roast it first. This says a lot about him, some of it complimentary. He rides a motorbike because it’s fun, and wishes they’d hurry up with a genetic cure for short sight.
He writes because otherwise the words come out when he’s not expecting them to, and likes to explore any genre with “speculative” in the name. He’s been writing for more than a decade but only submitting for a couple of years, which was a mistake he doesn’t intend to repeat. He thinks romance is more interesting than violence and a lot more morally defensible, not to mention fun.