According to Hoyle
Author: Abigail Roux
As soon as I heard talk about some of Ms. Roux’s stories being revised for Riptide Publishing, I decided to hold off on getting the ones I hadn’t already purchased, including According to Hoyle, until available from Riptide. And, while I’m positive I’d have loved it anyway, I’m very glad I did. This book is simply good, all-around fun. It’s got a little bit of everything—suspense, secret government agencies, gunslinging, mayhem, humor, romance, and more—set against the backdrop of the post-Civil War American West.
The main characters of According to Hoyle are divided into two pairs: the outlaws and the lawmen. The former, made up of Gabriel “Dusty” Rose and another prisoner initially referred to only as “Cage,” are being escorted to a trial, hanging, or both by US Marshals. The Marshals, Eli Flynn and William Henry Washington, have seen more than a few battles together and know one another better than anyone else ever could. Beyond that, it would ruin too much of the enjoyment of learning about them to elaborate more on the different personalities in play, except to say that Flynn’s repeated bouts of irritation were some of my favorite moments in the story. Of course, everybody seems to like it when Flynn gets flustered, so I felt that I was in good company.
In addition to creating a unique and often endearing assemblage of main characters, Ms. Roux has fashioned an inventive and suspenseful narrative, as well. At least two key machinations (one overtly referred to, one only hinted at) are in play from the beginning of According to Hoyle, and letting them unfold as they do makes this a truly clever piece of storytelling. Little nuggets of information perpetually emerge from scene to scene, constantly sifting their way through other layers to either address existing questions or create new ones. The answers are always just out of reach, and, even with a few moments of additional insight, the plot wasn’t at all obvious, especially during the first reading (I read it twice).
Another thing According to Hoyle has in its favor is the subtle (and not-so-subtle) romantic elements that are present throughout the story, softening the roughest edges in all the right places. There is a quick familiarity between some of the characters that works extremely well in this case, given that the nature of the environment and situation these men find themselves in makes questioning an unexpectedly good thing an awfully foolish chance to take. A short expiration date is a near certainty for anyone who lives by their guns, but, even within these parameters, there’s nothing particularly saccharine about the attraction that evolves as the narrative progresses.
Between having all the elements of a good western, the well-paced revelations of a mystery, the warmth of a romance, and the humor of a comedy, According to Hoyle is a solid win as far as I’m concerned. Ms. Roux has, once again, given her readers vibrant, memorable characters, as well as a story that was a lot of fun to try and figure out. Even with most of the questions answered at the end, there are enough possibilities still dangling to make me wish there was more. I just wasn’t ready for it to be over.
By the close of 1882 in the American West, the line between heroes and villains is narrow. Total chaos is staved off only by the few who take the law at its word and risk their lives to uphold it. But in the West, the rules aren’t always played according to Hoyle.
US Marshals Eli Flynn and William Henry Washington—longtime friends and colleagues—are escorting two prisoners to New Orleans for trial when they discover there’s more than outlawry to the infamous shootist Dusty Rose and the enigmatic man known as Cage. As the two prisoners form an unlikely partnership, the marshals can’t help but look closer at their own.
When forces beyond the marshals’ control converge on the paddle wheeler they’ve hired to take them downriver, they must choose between two dangers: playing by the rules at any cost, or trusting the very men they are meant to bring to justice.
Release Date: December 29, 2014
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Genre: LGBTQ, m/m, Western, Historical
Format(s): paperback (322 pages), e-book
Book Source: NetGalley
According to Hoyle