Dakota Skies by Taylin Clavelli
Title ~ Dakota Skies
Author ~ Taylin Clavelli
Publisher ~ Wayward Ink Publishing
Published ~ 12th September 2014
Page Count ~ 359
Genre ~ M/M Historical Western
Born in the wrong time...
In 1875 Dakota, Sheriff Jamie Carter has to hide his interest in men, even from his gutsy twin sister, Anna. On a good day, the truth can mean a bullet between the eyes, and on a bad, one in the back.
A man on a mission...
Jamie leaves Anna in charge of Blackrock and he hits the bounty hunting trail, along with his faithful equine companion, Houston. Five territories, scores of ‘Wanted’ posters, and many bullets later, his path unexpectedly converges with that of enigmatic loner, Kit Brooks.
Two men with one soul...
Will the smoldering fire between them rage into an inferno and break down protective barriers, allowing them to find love? Or will it separate and kill them?
Beneath Dakota skies...
Jamie and Kit’s story is a sweeping saga of cowboys, Indians, persistent broads, and vengeful villains, where the cowboys aren’t always the good guys, and love can’t be taken for granted.
I love cowboys...I love historical...so put the two together to bring me a story set in the old west and I'm beyond happy. The strange thing is it's a sub genre of M/M that you don't really see that often, so when I saw heard months ago that Taylin was writing a historical western I was the first one to put my hand up and say "Me please, I want that book!"
There's something about that era in history that's always fascinated me. I think because it was a time that showed just how strong human nature could be when faced with having to adapt to a hostile environment, and how it produced a stock of hardy people, who in the early days of pioneering, struggled during harsh times to bring up families, build towns, cultivate crops and raise animals...all in conditions that put many a man, woman and sadly sometimes a child in an early grave. Cultivating land that was worked into fruition through blood, sweat and tears. But that also meant that alongside that community of pioneers, there were people who pushed boundaries—law breakers who became outlaws and criminals, and who in turn created the need for men (and sometimes women) who were tough enough to police them; the Sheriffs, the Marshall's and the Bounty Hunters that, because these were lawless times, tried to uphold the laws any way they could and if that meant shooting a man without hesitation because it was kill or be killed then that was how it was played. These were wild, dangerous times, hence the phrase 'The Wild West'
So I was interested to see which way this novel would spin it. Would it just be a regular cowboy romance, set on a ranch, but in a historical setting? Or would it actually encompass what the west was truly about in those days? Well, I can honestly say this book definitely answers the latter question and we most certainly get to see it in all it's gritty glory...warts and all.
Taylin has written this as a proper story, and I'm emphasising the word story here because this isn't just a basic sexy m/m romance. The kind that tends to just centre around two cowboys who meet, fall in love and have lots of sex furtively, wherever they can...usually in the barn! The type with a bit of a 'can we save the ranch from the evil property developer/cattle Baron' plot, playing out in the background, that just happens to be set in a historical period. No...It's actually a pretty epic journey, that even though the love story is an integral part of the novel, still manages to shine as an evocative description of life in a time that spawned many a tale of action and adventure.
The story opens in a town called Blackrock, which has two Sheriffs, twins whose murdered father was Sheriff before them, but what's most unusual is that these siblings aren't identical, they're a brother and sister team...Jamie and Anna Carter. Anna is just as tough as her brother and the townsfolk have come to respect her just as much as they have her male twin,who prefers to be called Jay. He knows he has feelings for men, but of course in those days being gay could get you killed. It might have been alright to look the other way when cowboys out on the trails for long periods of time, away from their gals, would indulge in a bit of fumbling with another cowboy to ease an itch but it wasn't something you admitted as an actual sexual proclivity.
So it's because of these burgeoning feelings,and being constantly chased by the local townswomen, who either want him for their daughters or themselves, that Jay decides to hang up his Sheriffs badge, leave the town for a while on his trusty horse Houston, and turn his hand to bounty hunting, leaving a very capable Anna in charge of the town until he decides to return. As well as that, his goal is also to make enough money to put by as a nest egg but more importantly to try to find out as much information as he can on a dangerous gang of outlaws called The Valdez.."...a fifteen-man strong group of cutthroat and gunslingers" who years before had hit the town of Blackrock, murdering and destroying everything in their path, including their father. Both Jay and Anna, who had been eighteen at the time, had been out of town, escaping the carnage that had happened that day, leaving them both with a strong need for vengeance.
Bounty hunting was a cutthroat business. There was the law, and those that broke it had to suffer the consequences. It was harsh, with no time for negotiations. Where the law and criminals were concerned, it was shoot or be shot. Jay had to be quicker, tougher, and smarter than those he was tracking.
During his travels he meets Kit, a young guy living off the land and after Kit saves him during a dangerous altercation with some native Americans, they team up for a while and ride the plains together. Their time together only reinforces Jamie's knowledge that he's gay as he finds himself drawn to this handsome, self reliant young man and it seems like his interest is reciprocated but Kit is hiding something that could put his and Jay's friendship and blossoming attraction at risk and it's this secret and the tragedy from Jay and Anna's past that drives the directions that the book takes over the course of the story, towards it's exciting,emotional ending.
But it's not just a love story, it's a tale of adventure and discovery, with a cast of characters who all have major parts to play in its ongoing storyline and it's dramatic outcome. There are people who in my eyes could be be just as easily classed as main characters, as much in a way as the two cowboys, especially as every now and again we go back to Blackrock to see what's happening to Anna and the drama unfolding in her life, which includes the arrival of a drifter gambler called Mason or Doc as he's also known, a man who is also tied in closely to the relationship that's occurring between the young bounty hunter and the man he's falling in love with, and a blossoming love for herself with the man who owns the town saloon, Morgan Haynes. All these people eventually become entwined in each other's lives and converge together at the end as the secrets unfold and Jay and Anna's past comes back not just to haunt them but to possibly tear their lives apart, and the lives of the people who they've fallen in love with or become deeply attached to.
Native American culture also plays a massive part in this, it's society, lifestyle, lore and spiritual influences, and that was like manna from heaven to me because it's a way of life that's always captivated me and a lot of the book takes place among the tribes who populated the area around where Blackrock is situated. To be honest I've only given a tip of the iceberg as far as information about the actual storyline and plot is concerned, it's a decent length book and it's packed with content. Which brings me to the style of writing. Taylin tends to tell a lot of the story more than showing it, so, sometimes there are fairly long segments where not much actual on page action is happening because we're being told things from the past or becoming privy to the thoughts and musings of a particular character but because of the subject matter, history and era it's set in, I understood why that was done. When the action does happen on page it's vivid and colourful, and nail biting when the final showdown with The Valdez arrives. There's absolutely no doubt that Ms Clavelli absolutely loves this time in history and it shows, as a lot of things this author writes about feel really authentic and obviously well researched.
So I guess I'll wrap this up by saying if you want to read a book where sex definitely has it's part but it's really the depth of story you want to get lost in then I think you'll love this, if it's oodles of man on man action with a flimsy backstory you're looking for then you'll be disappointed. It's m/m so of course the love story and sex is there, and it's yum, but for me it was the connection and weaving of the story involving all the trials and tribulations that the gang went through and shared together that made this the enjoyable read it was. Taylin, you tell a great tale! I'll remember Jay and Kit's story for a long time
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Interview & Author Reading from Dakota Skies by Taylin Clavelli
Video Trailer for Dakota Skies
About Taylin Clavelli
Taylin Clavelli lives in the United Kingdom, about 15 miles south of Birmingham, and a short journey from the world famous Cadbury’s Chocolate factory. She’s married with children and loves her family with all her heart.
Her love of books has been a long standing affair, with Taylin liking nothing better than to lose herself in an imaginary world.
Until she met Lily Velden, she never considered trying her hand at writing. However, after talking ideas, Lily encouraged her to put pen to paper—or rather, fingers to keyboard. Since, with a few virtual kicks in the right place, she hasn’t stopped. Her confidence eventually led to her writing an original work for submission.
Now she absolutely adores immersing herself into the characters she creates, and transferring the pictures in her brain to paper, finding it liberating, therapeutic, and wonderful.
Outside of writing, her interests include; martial arts (she’s a 2nd Degree Black Belt in Taekwon-do), horse-riding, and movies, all of which facilitates her love of a wide variety of genres. Her action heroes include Jet Li and Tony Jaa—finding the dedication these men have for their art combined with their skill both amazing and a privilege to watch. If pressed, she’ll admit to thinking that the screen entrance of Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean – Curse of the Black Pearl, and Shadowfax in LOTR, to be the greatest screen entrances ever. Her all-time favorite movies are Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.
The simple things in life that make her day, putting a smile on her face are:
Laughter - especially that of her children.
The smell of lasagna cooking – it makes her mouth salivate.
The dawn chorus – no symphony ever written can beat the waking greetings of the birds.
Taylin will be gifting 3 x Swag Bags and 1 x eBook of Dakota Skies, all you need to do is enter the Rafflecopter below.
3 x Swag Bags ~ Keyring hipflask, bullet usb, credit card mints and stylus.
1 x eBook of Dakota Skies