Remember how much I liked These War-Torn Hands? Yeah, well, I downright loved The Beautiful Ones. Everything I loved from book one is still here -- the sweeping vistas, the epic fight of good versus evil, and Jack Selby. Not a lot of Jack Selby, but still a bit here and there to keep me happy. Same for Raymond Lacey, who was my second-favorite in the first book. I'm afraid he's dropped to third now because... Kate Carnegie, man! Did she ever step up her game in this book! I want to hang out with her and be best friends and go on adventures and sit quietly by the fire at night not feeling like either of us has to say anything if we don't have anything to say. My goodness, I loved her.
So, the citizens of Glory Mesa start this book trying to kind of settle into a new, peaceful life now that a whole lot of Bad Guys got cleared out of the Territory. But it doesn't take long for them to discover that there are more Bad Guys around. Some of them right in Glory Mesa, in fact, though others are ranging around out in the wild too. There's a plot to kill the governor, some former enemies become friends, and some relationships fall apart too. We've got new faces in town, but familiar faces abound. We get to see new places, including an area that sounds a lot like Yellowstone, but we also hang out in Glory Mesa quite a bit, too. I really liked that mix of familiar and new.
Of the new characters, I loved Britt and Buck April and Cristobal Newton. In fact, I identified a lot with Newton in particular -- especially his longing for his home and his loyalty to new and old friends. I liked that he was a bit enigmatic, but very truthful and straight-talking. I really hope we see a lot more of him in book three.
I hear that there's going to be one more book in this series, which I must admit disappoints me. I was hoping for at least four books, maybe even five or six. I'm enjoying these too much to want them to end so soon! But I'm also looking forward to seeing how everything winds up, so I won't pout too much.
I especially loved how Hayse wove the question "what does it mean to be a hero" all through the book. Do brave deeds make you a hero? Are good intentions enough? What about self-sacrifice? Willingness to sacrifice? Reluctant sacrifice? Lots of interesting things to chew on and mull over here!
Particularly Good Bits:
The sun floods the valley between the hills like a mountain river after a storm. There's a wildness to the land. Even the peaceful moments mirror the deadly ones (p. 6).
A thrill runs through me. To be moving to a place where legends are everyday men, where a heart has to be brave to survive -- I don't think I could get any luckier (p. 32-33).
I'm inches from death, and yet all I see is the poetry of it: the dust from the spent bullets rising in the golden light of morning; the smoke from the guns hanging on the air over the rocks like mist; the green, beautiful land cut down the center with a golden stream (p. 69).
"A principle isn't a principle if it gets thrown out in desperate times" (p. 82).
The mountains are mockers. They stay right there in your sights, never getting closer. I'm tired to my bones, and it's not trail-weariness (p. 85).
"If it is our fate to go up in flames in the end, we will make it a good end." He smiles with that strange, boyish light in his eyes that only manages to make him more the man, not less. "And for now, we wait, and live our lives, as we always have, the best we can" (p. 275).
There is nothing more beautiful than one's home, one's stars, and the smell of the trees standing like sentinels around the land you love (p. 295).
If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It: PG for some western violence, a scary encounter with a dragon, and discussions of ancient curses and magic. No cussing; no smut.
This was my 46th book read off my TBR shelves for #TheUnreadShelfProject2021.