When Lily Anders gave up her proper English roots to settle in the Wild West, she didn’t dare hope that she’d meet someone who shared her own wicked bedroom secrets. But the virtuous Sheriff Hale has never told anyone about his shocking desires. Will he give in to the surprising temptation of the young widow?
Widow Lily Anders inherits her brother’s house in Wyoming and leaves England to start a new life in America’s Wild West. Sexual desires she’s concealed after her husband’s death return in full force when she recognizes the town’s sheriff, Tom Hale, for the dominant partner he could be for her. They embark on an erotic secret relationship that develops into something profound and as explosive as the sexual fireworks they produce.
Lily is subservient but by no means weak. She is determined to make something of her life in America and to put the past with her family behind her. Sheriff Hale is pragmatic, tough and just that little rough around the edges to make you melt for him. He thinks something is wrong with him because of his craving for sexual dominancy and desperately, yet fruitlessly, tries to suppress them.
Hale’s reluctance and the way Lily slowly diminishes it gave the story a nice twist. I like erotic stories about men suppressing their darker sexual urges until they meet the right woman. Sheriff Hale is exactly such a man and I loved him. At first I was wondering if Sheriff Hale’s first name would ever be given and luckily for me Dahl didn’t disappoint, although I did expect it to be a little more exotic than Tom and understand why for most of the book he’s addressed as Sheriff Hale. Lily and Sheriff Hale are neighbors and what starts as a little taunting and voyeurism ends in awakening and empowerment for Lily and acknowledgment and acceptance for Sheriff Hale. And what starts out a purely physical relationship evolves into a strong emotional connection between them.
For a short story there are quite a few secondary characters but they all are more there to provide the main characters with a background than that they have truly crucial roles in the storyline. Still the story wouldn’t be complete without them.
What is it with the novellas of late? THE WICKED WEST is the 4th one I’ve read in a short while and again I was treated to a top-notch novella. It is another rounded and well-executed story with a romance and characters that are fleshed out excellently and better than in some full-length books I’ve read. Dahl even managed to work in a small side plot of some mysterious cattle theft. I used to dread reading anthologies/novellas and only read them to complete series of full-length books but Dahl, Dare and Byrne are making me eat my words and I’m starting to look forward to them a whole lot more now.
Dahl is so good in building up the tension with scenes where Lily seduces Sheriff Hale from afar that when they finally engaged in physical contact, I myself was ready to explode. Dahl does voyeurism, spanking, Dom/sub and a little bondage with flair and class I can appreciate. The scenes are explicit without ever getting crude or distasteful. And without distracting from the erotic or romantic vibe, she managed to capture the Wild West of that time-period, which I am guessing is somewhere in the 19th century since a specific timestamp is not given, with descriptions and characters.
My only little (very, very little) point of criticism is the use of the word whore in the novella. I understand that it worked for the scenes and the characters but for me it still has this negative connotation to it that I didn’t like to associate with Lily or Hale and their otherwise lovely written story.
THE WICKED WEST gave me goose bumps. The good kind! Couldn’t stop reading even when I had to go to bed. The words “Yes, Sheriff” will never be the same to me. I do hope her venture into erotic romance will not stay limited to THE WICKED WEST because she definitely has a knack for it!
She let her eyes fall to the ground as she always did when he was near. Something about him made her want to curl up at his feet and purr. He was so powerful. So in control.