The Bone Orchard

     Author: Abi Roux

     Publisher: Riptide Publishing

     Rating: 3 stars

     Buy Links: Riptide and Amazon 

     Type: Standalone Novella

     Purchased by Reviewer

 

Blurb:  After leaving a trail of terror and death in his wake, the notorious “Missouri” Boone Jennings finally meets his match in San Francisco when US marshal Ambrose Shaw catches up to him. The story of his capture, and the marshal’s bravery, has already become legend back east by the time Pinkerton inspector Ezra Johns gets off the train from New York City to testify in the murderer’s trial.

When Ambrose is unable to give witness to the evils he’s seen, Ezra becomes their lone hope for putting Jennings in a noose. But if Ezra thinks that’s his biggest problem, he’s got plenty to learn about life—and the afterlife—in the spirited West.

Fortunately, Ambrose is there to assist, and more than happy to oblige Ezra—in the courtroom or the bedroom. He spent his life bringing justice to the Wild West, and if he has a say in it, that’s how he’ll be spending his death too.

Warning!  This review will have spoilers!

 

Review: Ambrose Shaw finally catches Boone Jennings in San Francisco.  Jennings is horrible. There is nothing noble or glamorous about his crimes. The man is pure, unadulterated evil. Finally, in San Francisco Jennings is brought to trial for his crimes. Ezra Johns is sent to San Francisco by Pinkerton to testify at Jennings’ trial. Johns is most likely going to deliver the testimony that will result in Jennings’ hanging. When he finally arrives at his hotel, Ezra is able to get a wonderful room because there is a rumor it’s haunted. Whatever. He does end up sharing the room with none other than Ambrose Shaw, the very lawman who brought Jennings down. Ezra’s testimony is successful and Jennings is set to die by hanging for his crimes. At the trial Ezra learned an interesting fact about Ambrose. He was Jennings’ last victim. That hotel room is totally haunted.

As they await the execution, Ambrose and Ezra realize they enjoy each others’ company. They also realize they both prefer men as sexual partners. It’s kind of a shame Ambrose is dead. A torrid and ghostly love affair does not seem to be in the cards for these guys. On top of that, Ambrose swore he’d see Jennings hang for his crime. Once Jennings is dead, what happens? Prior to the hanging they say goodbye. Ambrose vanishes once Jennings is dead. Ezra was a little surprised when Ambrose showed up at dinner later that night. Both men are still a touch frustrated they can’t do more than kiss to work out their frustrations. Even the kissing isn’t exactly easy. Ambrose doesn’t want Ezra alone, trying to have a relationship with a ghost. That’s when they learn the Judge from Jennings’ trial was murdered. That whole thing about Ambrose being Jennings’ last victim? Not so much. It would appear that it’s not only lawmen who can become ghosts.

Ambrose and Ezra come up with a plan to defeat Jennings in death. Being such a volatile person has evidently made Jennings a very powerful ghost. Poor Ambrose isn’t really the best at this whole ghost thing. When they go to put their plan into effect Jennings surprises both men again. Ezra is added to the list of Jennings victims. As tragic as that is, they find it’s easier to fight him as a team of ghosts than as a living man and a ghost. They also find it a lot easier to have that torrid and now doubly ghostly affair they’ve been wanting. Finally, they manage to trap Jennings. Unfortunately, they learn they’re on an entirely different kind of playing field now that they’re not dealing with a human life span. They’ve got to contain Jennings and keep the people in San Francisco safe for all of eternity. The biggest shock comes when Ambrose and Ezra sees who shows up in San Francisco, and what they’ve got with them.

I was amazed with how much I wanted Ezra dead. It’s not every day I truly want a romantic lead to die. Okay, it’s probably not ever I want a romantic lead to die. If I do I’d usually say the book has some significant problems. The deep respect these men had for each other as professionals, then friends, then ultimately as lovers was wonderful to see unfold. I also liked the cameos at the end giving us the sense that duty is a family tradition. All together it made for a wonderful story full of dry wit and sweet romance.

I don’t really consider myself to be an accuracy maven. If a story is fun, flows well, and doesn’t have a glaring problem I’m fine reading along in ignorant bliss. Do I need a book to explain in detail the cocktail culture of 1870’s San Francisco? No, not at all. Do I need a book to get the basic climate and topography of San Francisco correct? Umm, yeah. Sorry. I feel if a book is going to be tied to a specific and well known location that location should become another character in the story. I feel neglecting to do so with San Francisco in this book was a significant opportunity missed. San Francisco is not a generic Western town. Having said all that, I was most upset by a different error. I do, however, strongly feel this was a good story. It’s worth a read for the relationship between Ambrose and Ezra.

 

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