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 really enjoyed One More Ride. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting, but in a good way. Hepburn uses a shared past between the three main characters – Amanda, Devin, and Nathanial – to explain their connection. For me, this is practically a vital element in a novella, otherwise any relationship that forms often feels rushed. Rather than hitting the reader with the details of the relationship all at once in the beginning, the author introduces them as they are pertinent to that moment in the storyline. This allowed me to connect with the characters individually before their relationship dynamic was fully understood.
While there is a romance element to the story, One More Ride is more focused on the frontier-style action. Set in Australia – and I’ll admit to not picking up on a specific time period, but certain comments, descriptions, and story elements leave me to believe it certainly qualifies as a historical romance as well – Amanda runs the local saloon and hotel. When Amanda has to step in and deal with a disgruntled customer, we learn that she’s no ordinary barkeep, hotelier, or madam (uh-huh, saloon girls). But we don’t learn the true measure of her mettle until a few days later when the Peters Gang robs Amanda’s hotel, her business partner Fabian’s general store, and kills a guest. Any one of those offenses was an affront to Amanda’s pride, but all three compelled her to don the mantle of her previous life and, with the help of a couple friends, hunt down the Peters Gang and exact her revenge…permanently. If, over the course of their manhunt, the trio can mend fences and broken hearts, then it’ll prove even more fortuitous of a trip.
One More Ride is probably best classified as a historical western ménage romance. Now because the book is action driven and the romance seems to take a backseat to the action, there are no actual ménage sex scenes. Now as someone who loves ménage sex scenes involving one girl and two or more guys, you would expect me to be disappointed – yet, I was not. Hepburn’s focus on Amanda and her coming to terms with and admitting to why she separated herself from Devin and Nathanial all while the trio hunts for the Peters Gang kept the story moving at such a pace and in such a way that there was no appropriate place for a bout of ménage sex to occur. Not only were the setting and circumstances not conducive to it, but the poor woman had saddle sores. This does not mean the novella is devoid of sexual interactions entirely. The author gives us just a taste of what Amanda had and could have again as she overhears the guys together at night in the camp. It’s off the page action, but still quite steamy as it’s presented as a kind of auditory voyeurism. But the focus of One More Ride is Amanda’s healing and fixing what was broken between her and Devin and Nathanial, which is what makes it a romance even as it is action-driven. I’ll say it again, I really, really enjoyed this book. Hepburn strikes a such a great balance between the romance and the action that it’s hard to believe just how much story was packed into less than a hundred pages – it certainly seemed longer (in the good way).
Amanda comes across as a strong and caring person. But the more you read about her I think that she is really cold inside. She plays the owner part very well, everyone buys it except those who know her history. She is still in love with men from her past, but fights it. She left her old life because she quit feeling emotions, and was afraid she would end up hurting those she loved.
Devin is a trapper that comes in to town with his partner. He is calm, cool-headed and strategic. He also loves his partner. They have been working together for many years. Doing this and that, not all of it legal.
Nathaniel is also a trapper, partner to Devin. He is funny, light-hearted, sharp shooter, and a very good tracker. He loves Devin, but misses their third. Amanda or Manda as they call her. She left them to move in to town.
This is a great western action book. There is gun fights, getaways, revenge, and a great shoot out. But there really is no building romance, Nathaniel answer Devin were already in their relationship. Manda really just doesn’t give off any heat, or building sexual spark. I’m just not sure if that part didn’t have time to build or what.