Caine's Reckoning (Hell's Eight Series #1)

Caine's Reckoning (Hell's Eight Series #1)

by Sarah McCarty

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Caine Allen is definitely not the marrying kind. But when he rescues a kidnapped woman and returns her to town, his honor and his desire for Desi won't allow him to let her go.

From the moment he beds Desi, Caine knows turmoil will follow. Desi might have the face of a temptress, but she also has a will of iron. And while she needs his protection, she's determined that no man will control her again. They establish an uneasy bond, but it isn't enough for Caine. All he wants is to keep her in his bed. But with a bounty still on her head, first he must keep her alive.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781426879098
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication date: 01/01/2011
Series: Hell's Eight Series , #1
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 164,730
File size: 434 KB

About the Author

Before becoming a full-time writer, Sarah McCarty traveled extensively. She would bring a pencil and paper with her to sketch out her stories and, in the process, discovered the joy of writing. Today, Sarah is the New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen novels, including the award-winning Hell’s Eight series, and is best known for her historical and paranormal romance novels. You can contact Sarah through her website at

Read an Excerpt

1858: Texas Territory

He hated the sound of a woman's scream. Caine pulled Chaser up short. The black Appa-loosa's hoofbeats ended in cadence with Tracker's and Sam's horses. After fifteen years together, there was no guesswork to the men's moves. They were a team.

The high-pitched scream came again, cutting through the cold morning air, hovering a desperate moment on the heavy mist before dropping off with eerie abruptness.

Tracker took the blade of grass he'd been chewing from between his teeth. "Looks like we've found them."

"Yup." Caine pulled his rifle from the scabbard, scouting the surrounding area. There weren't that many areas a man could hide here in the flatlands.

Sam tipped back his hat, his blue eyes glittering like cold ice. "About the only place that offers protection is that cluster of trees yonder."

Caine didn't need to hear the grim edge to the statement to know what that meant. If those were true Co-mancheros who'd stolen the women, they'd already been spotted. The women were as good as dead, and that scream had merely been a baited invitation to a trap. However, nothing in this whole kidnapping spoke of the snake-in-the-grass intelligence Comancheros were known for. Greed, yes. The women stolen had been the youngest and prettiest, but there was a certain lack of intelligence displayed in taking the sheriff's wife. Even if he had been out of town at the time. There were some things a smart man didn't do, and one of them was stealing a lawman's woman.

Tracker slid off his horse, stepped forward and squatted next to hoofprints in the mud. He flicked aside some debris and touched the base of an indentation.

"Same notched shoe?" Caine asked.

"Yup." Beneath his hat, Tracker's long black hair blew back from his face as he followed the trajectory of the tracks to the cluster of trees, revealing the hard ridge of scar tissue puckering the dark skin of his cheek. A scar he'd earned at the age of fifteen when he'd extracted justice for his mother from the man who'd raped her. He pointed to the copse of trees halfway up the rise. "They're in there."

Another scream tore through the morning calm, this time rising and falling on a ruptured, barely recognizable "No!"

"Shit." Sam flipped the strap on his holster. "Stopping to fuck with a posse on their tail? I've a mind to complain to the padre. It's a waste of time sending us out to round up this bunch when any kid in knee pants could do the job."

Remnants of the scream echoed off the surrounding hills, raising the hairs on the back of Caine's neck. Right along with memories he'd rather have stayed buried. "Gotta admit that much stupidity fairly begs a man to put it out of its misery."

"That it does." Sam checked the cylinder of his pistol, the easy nonchalance of his attitude belied by the grim smile lifting the corner of his lips. Nothing irritated Sam more than a stupid outlaw. "But seeing as they chose to bring their law-breaking to our land, I suppose it won't overwork us none to teach them a lesson."

The same tug of cold intent in Sam's smile flowed through Caine's blood, sharpening his senses, giving a home to the anger that had festered without satisfaction for the last fifteen years. They'd fought long and hard for a place to call their own, carved two thousand acres out of these canyons with their sweat and blood. This was their home, and the only law that existed in it was the one they enforced. And on Hell's Eight land, a body could do a lot of things, but hurt a woman and live wasn't one of them. "I don't suppose it will."

Sam dropped his revolver back into his holster. "I'll head 'round."

"You want the sentries, Tracker?" Caine asked, as Sam loped off, circling to keep the slight rise between him and their quarry.

Tracker stood and put his hand on the worn leather-wrapped hilt of his knife. "My pleasure."

Silhouetted against the morning mist, he looked every bit of his reputation—a big, mean nightmare come to life. His dark gaze fixed on the copse of trees, his focus already on the battle to come. If Tracker ever allowed one of the sentries to see his expression, the implacable intent there, the man would piss his pants. Too bad Tracker never let them see his face. Caine levered a bullet into the chamber of his rifle with the snap of his wrist. He'd pay money to see that. "Then I guess that leaves the how-de-do's up to me."

The barest hint of a smile touched Tracker's lips. "Enjoy yourself."

Caine crept on his belly to the edge of the low ridge overhanging the small clearing. Tipping back his hat, he looked directly below to the small group in the hollowed-out bank in the curve of the stream. Stupid did not begin to describe this bunch.

One of the five men they were tracking held a gun loosely on three women who cowered in terror against the earthen bank. Three more outlaws were engrossed in trying to catch a blond-haired hellion knee-deep in the rushing stream, pitching curses and stones at their heads with assorted degrees of accuracy. If she'd once worn a dress, it was long gone. Her bloomers and camisole were plastered to her compact body, her small breasts and mound clearly delineated by the transparent material. The provocative display no doubt contributed to the idiocy of the men, one of whom chose that moment to rush the woman. She jerked to the side, her long hair obscuring her expression as he grabbed her arm and pulled. Instead of fighting, she went with him, planting her feet when he stumbled on the uneven stream bed, bringing her knee up hard enough to feed the guy his balls for breakfast. She should have run, but she was a fighter and clearly had a fighter's instinct to finish the job. As the guy sank to the ground, hands clamped over his balls, she kicked out again, catching him on the chin. He went over like a felled ox, water splashing high. Out cold.

Caine raised an eyebrow as she turned on the other two, feet braced, daring them to come after her. A smile tugged past his fury. Hell, if they delayed a bit, the little spitfire might just take care of this mess for them. A barely perceptible thud to his left deepened his smile. But it wouldn't be necessary. Tracker was nothing if not efficient and that thud was the first sentry. One down.

Two more to go. Caine inched closer as the outlaws on the edge of the stream shifted position. The bigger of the two said something to the other, his heavy beard obscuring the shape of the words. In response, the smaller man pulled off his hat, revealing a thin face scraggled with beard. He slapped the hat against his thigh. Whatever the suggestion had been, the smaller man wasn't cozying up to it.

"Just rush her for Christ sake," the redhead guarding the other women shouted impatiently, punctuating his point with a wave of his rifle that had the women he was guarding screaming and covering their heads with their hands.

"If you want her rushed, Red, do it yourself," Scraggle Beard hollered back. "I like my balls right where they are."

"Do I have to do everything myself?" Red aimed his revolver at the two men. They went absolutely still. With a flick of the muzzle, he ordered, "Get out of the way."

The two men stepped aside, relief seeping into the set of their shoulders as Red centered the muzzle on the blond woman. "Get out of the stream."

The blonde's response to that flat order was a flip of her head that had her hair whipping back over her shoulder, revealing a delicately shaped face devoid of color but full of determination.

She didn't move a foot, nor say a word, but if there was ever a combination of gestures that said go to hell, it was the lift of that small, pointed chin and the narrowing of those big eyes.

Over the rushing of the stream, Caine heard the faint click of the gun hammer locking into place. Shit.


Caine had never seen a more stupidly brave woman.

Instead of obeying, she squared her shoulders. Courage was one thing but she was just about begging the man to pull the trigger, and for that she needed her cute little ass paddled. Caine notched the barrel of his rifle between two stones and took aim as Red straightened his arm.

The blonde narrowed her eyes and stretched her defiance out to the last possible second before, with another toss of that wet mane, she sloshed out of the stream. Water dripped in a small river as she stomped up the bank. She came to a stop three steps from Red, chin still high, shaking like she had the ague. Goddamn, if she didn't drop with pneumonia before the day was out, they would all be lucky.

"See, boys, nothing to be afraid of," Red sneered, releasing the hammer and lowering the revolver to his side. "Just a pretty little whore displaying her goodies for our pleasure."

The "boys" converged on the woman, grabbing her arms. If looks could kill, Red would be dead and the "boys" not far behind. The bearded man grabbed the woman's hair, yanking her around as he ripped the chemise from her body. Her screech echoed around the clearing. With the speed of a rattler, she sank her teeth into his hand, hard enough that his holler followed hers. Scraggle Beard jerked her back. She didn't let go, just stretched out between the two men, hanging like a crazed coon, anchored by her teeth and the grip on her arm.

"Fucking shit! Stop yanking on her before she bites my thumb clear off!"

Scraggle Beard froze. The bearded man brought his hamlike fist down on the woman's back. Her knees buckled, but she held on. No matter how the man shook his hand, yanked and threatened, she didn't turn him loose. Son of a bitch, she was something.

Caine adjusted his aim. "That's right, hellcat. Keep them busy just a little bit more, just until Tracker gets those sentries." He tightened his finger on the trigger. "Just a little bit more, and I'll settle this for you once and for all."

As if she heard, the woman clung to the outlaw, flopping where he shook her, getting a bit of her own back the only way she could, clearly stuck on her course of action with no real way out. If she let go she'd be helpless, if she held on, she was an easy target for his fist. The man brought his fist up a second time. Caine sighted the gun. That was one blow that wasn't going to land.

Tracker's signal trilled through the clearing, sharp and sweet. Followed immediately by another. Caine fired in rapid succession. Simultaneously, three shots shattered the rain of curses streaming into the clearing, followed quickly by a fourth. The men dropped, the blond woman with them. Caine leapt over the ledge and slid down the muddy slope, sending loose rocks tumbling before him. He reached her side in a few rapid strides. No way had he hit her. He'd placed his bullets precisely where he'd wanted them. So had Sam and Tracker. He'd lay money on it. All of the Hell's Eight were known for their accuracy. That fifth shot had him worried, though. That shot hadn't come from any of their guns.

The closer he got, the smaller the woman got. Fine bones, fine build. He stepped over the outlaw at her side, the screams and cries of the other three women no more than the buzz of insects. Blood splattered on what he could see of the little blonde's arms, but he didn't think it was hers. The impression of fragility increased as he cupped her shoulders through the wet mass of hair. Shit, there wasn't anything to her beyond grit and determination. And temper, he decided as he tugged up and she snarled. She was still biting the man. "You can turn him loose now, ma'am."

There was a pause and the tension under his hand eased. He pulled. She sat back, wiped at her mouth with both hands before huddling into a ball, looking for all the world like she'd start plastering herself with mud to cover up if he didn't present an alternative fast. Then she looked up at him and sucker-punched him with the eloquence of those big eyes. Everything she felt inside, everything left out of her remarkably composed expression, whirled in the deep blue depths—shame, anger, hope and fear.

"Who are you?" she asked, through the chattering of her teeth.

"Caine Allen, Texas Ranger." He'd tip his hat if he had a free hand. Though she was all but naked and covered in blood, she had an air about her that reminded a man of his manners. The introduction didn't ease any of the turbulence he read in her eyes.

"Father Gerard asked me to come fetch you home," he added, shrugging out of his wool-lined leather duster and wrapping it around her, drawing her into his body heat. She fit against him nicely.

"Is he dead?"

It was hard to acquaint the quavery whisper with the woman who'd faced down three grown men with nothing more than her temper and teeth. He took in the fallen man's blank stare, the hole dead-center between his eyes and the blood pooling beneath his head. "If not, he's doing a fair imitation."


If he hadn't been studying the blue tinge under her skin, he would have missed the subtle tremble that ran through her and just mistaken it for another of the cold chills shaking her from head to toe. Winter was wrapping up, but spring had yet to put in an appearance and the late March wind was cold. He helped her up and forward, moving her away from the blood toward the other women. She'd fought like hell, but as soon as reaction set in, she'd be wanting the company of her own sex.

To their right, there was a series of splashes. He looked up. Tracker stood over the man in the stream.

"That the last of them?"

"Yup." Tracker bent and grabbed the man's arms, hauling the body out of the water.

The cold damp of the woman's hair soaked through his shirt as she turned her head to stare at the gruesome sight. Another almost imperceptible shiver racked her frame. Caine turned his body, shielding her from the horror.

Her "Good riddance" caught him by surprise. He tipped her chin up, checking her expression. Her face was tight with strain, her pale lips drawn to a narrow, bloodless line, but she was still with him. "It is that, ma'am."

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Caine's Reckoning (Hell's Eight Series #1) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 235 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
CAINE'S RECKONING, first in the Hell's Eight series was so worth the wait for Sarah McCarty book from Spice (Publisher). I dearly enjoy western settings, especially historicals, and Ms. McCarty hits it perfectly. Having read her Ellora Cave's PROMISES series, which are keepers, this series is very unique in itself and CAINE'S RECKONING is unique (separate)from her PROMISES series but so much like her writing voice. This author brought about a new western historical erotic fiction series that is a well planned and plotted series of 8 men that are strong alpha males. One gift this author has, is that the reader will feel and see the growth of both Caine and Desi, the main characters of this book. Desi being a strong minded and stubborn woman who grew to fight her own battles within herself and around her while Caine was both there for her when needed as well as giving her the space she needed. The romance between them was felt very read, solid and perfectly fitting to the story. The sexual tension grows throughout just as they grew in love. Without giving away details of more of the story, its one that will have you anticipating each of these eight hero's stories. If you want exact same thing as the Promises series, you won't get them as this book is totally unique as the series will be. But too if you want the beauty of this authors writing voice, skills of plotting and just the book in full, you'll get that and more. This is one of the best reads for me this year. After reading this one and waiting for the next in the Hell's Eight series, get the PROMISES series, available right here in print and also available in ebook from the publisher. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
First of all I thought this book just o.k. after several hundred pages of going over and over how many times the main character was raped I was getting a little board with it, but when the answer was anal sex that's when you lost me! If that's your thing great! But it would be great it if B&N would give a little more warning for out of the norm sex on the e downloads. But if that's your thing I would have reviewed it a little higher. I thought the storyline was drug out a bit too long. Just my opinion.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Texas Ranger Caine Allen and his friends have little hope that the three abducted females will survive their kidnappers. Still he is hired to mount a rescue so he follows the trail. However, Caine did not calculate the strength of one of the victims, Desdemona Blake. Desi is grateful to her rescuer, but begs him not to return her to her guardian, James Haddock. He was going to ignore her plea until he meets the odious Haddock. Instead he marries Desi to keep her safe from this bully. Caine finds Desi to be a caring hard working person, who his friends adore. He also enjoys making love with her as her enthusiasm is igniting. However, she hides something from him that makes Caine wonders if she can trust any man even one who loves her. However, when he learns of her missing twin sister, lost almost a year ago to marauders, Caine decides to mount a rescue as a means to prove to Desi she is everything. ---- CAINE¿S RECKONING is a fresh spicy historical romance mostly because of the ultra-graphic descriptions of what happened to Desi pre Caine days. Readers will empathize with the heroine who expects her marriage will not last and worries about her sibling. Caine is a strong champion trying to do what is right for his beloved while controlling his frustration with her. Character driven readers will appreciate this powerful nineteenth century tale. ---- Harriet Klausner
jwand99 More than 1 year ago
The book was very enjoyable! There were a few scenes that became kind of repetitive but overall I really enjoyed this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought this book might not be for me. There is a little abuse in this book. But, Caine is a very gentle person and fixes everything from the past. I ended up loving it and buying the second and third book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Caine's Reckoning is a delicious read full of excitement and gut wrenching emotion. The attraction between Caine and Desi is electric and I love how Caine is softened by Desi. My favorite part of the book is wen Desi is trying to gather eggs. Sarah McCarty does a wonderful job of entwining romance, humor and heat in this book! I could not put the book down and continued reading the entire series.
groovekitty More than 1 year ago
I have read hundreds of romance novels, specifically historical romance. To me, a good love story HAS to have a setting. And excellent characters. Something beyond the spiciness to keep my interest. (case in point, not a huge fan of the "50 Shades" books) I generally go by the number of stars that other readers give a book, and I'll read through both the good and not so good reviews before deciding to part with my hard earned cash. Well, fellow readers, this time you led me astray. I was really hoping to LIKE this series, as I've finished my last read and was wanting something a little different than Victorian romances again. Decided on the Old West. Think I'll head back a bit further in the past next time! I did NOT like the hero, could not get my head around how he could not see that Desi was hurting, and went in with the machismo attitude and ran roughshod over her feelings and wants, couldn't see that someone who'd been pretty much gang raped could have issues with sex going forward? For real? And she's no better. Had a hard time relating to her too. "Are you gonna stay with me? Really? Really and truly gonna stay????" sheesh. Also, I found the love scenes to be too detailed - by the time I finished reading one, I had to go back and reread it because to me, she turned into a pretzel - arm placed here, and leg over there and back here and head there. Too much direction, if you get my meaning. I've found a different author that I hope to enjoy better. It's inevitable that I run across one or two where I don't agree with the "norm" and this just happened to be one of them.
KLBooksAZ More than 1 year ago
Sarah keeps me coming back for more! More!! And more!!! I'm all caught up on the "Promises" series. Book 1 & 4 are the best...FYI. Can't wait for #5. And I just finished the "Shadow Wranglers" series. [Cowboy vamps, by the way] With 1 more story coming there, Slade's. *sigh* Aaaanywho...I'd read Sam's tale from Hell's Eight a while ago and enjoyed it very much. But Caine!!! He's one major yummy, rough, confident male "hell-bent" on revenge for his 'new wife'. Desi - LOL - now there's a woman that kept me giggling, especially when I wasn't expecting it. With her 'past' and his excitment over 'sheet time' with his woman...they both find they've got some things to work out, and even out. This 1st story is great, set at a quick pace, down right sexy, and very entertaining! Sarah is hilarious and has bantering down to a perfect "T" with her characters. Everyone I have recommended this to has thouroughly enjoyed it. I hope you do too... =]
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
How about a thumbs up for Sarah McCarty everyone?!?! This is not an ordinary novel where the damsel in distress is saved and everything goes back to normal!!!! This book made me smile, laugh and almost cry! It was so full of excitement and mystery it will deffinetly keep you wanting more! They both capture eachothers heart and for once, finds somebody who makes them happy. It kept me on the edge of my seat and up late at night reading! Cant wait for more!
Honeysweet More than 1 year ago
This book was exciting, adventrous, and romance all rolled into one! I am usually not one for so much sex in a book, but that is a big part of the story becuase of the heroines past. I loved this book and could not stop reading. I have bought the rest of the series, and can't wait to read it.
davey800 More than 1 year ago
this was a fabulous story the only reason it did not get a higher rating is that it featured rape which is a no no but it was in flashback and not to discriptive luckily but still I had to skip over some pages as a man who reads romances I am unusaully sensitive using rape as a plot device is wrong and I normally drop the book but I stuck it out and boy am I glad caine's gentleness and patience with her was so beautiful that it brought a tear to my eye this is how all men should be and the love scences were scochers featuring an act never before employed in romance but one I personally enjoy in my own life you will see what I mean this was one of the best books out of the 100,00 I have read buy it you wont be dissapionted
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the first of a series and im hooked. Its got romance , sexual and loving and what every woman or most would dream of in a man . I couldnt stop reading it and im getting what there are of the rest of the series and cant wait. It even got me off my pc and on my A must read but be prepared to get excited and not in just one way. . lol a sure fire way to spend money and worth every cent. ENJOY ... I hope she does a book on them all .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am in love with the Hell's Eight series and have purchased the next 2 in the series. This one had a great story with the right amount of spice!
Michelle Holladay More than 1 year ago
I loved this book and the next in the series are auto buys for me. This was the first by this author I happened to buy but not the last. She is now on my list of authors to watch.
meclipse More than 1 year ago
Wonderful writing with excellent character and story development. The characters were real and the smexy parts were HOT (even the part I personally have no interest in'll just have to read to know what I'm talking about). I look forward to reading the entire series.
BookishLisa1975 More than 1 year ago
Usually I read more paranormal books but this was great read. Hells Eight were so tough they might as well have super powers.
Yvette4 More than 1 year ago
I first became aware of this author when I read her "Promises" series. Even though I enjoyed the series tremendously, I was hesitant to start Hell's Eight thinking it would be just like the other series. While it is similar in that the main two characters bond and relate in a way we can all understand (and that is why I love her books), the actual stories themselves are vastly different. Never again will I hesitate before selecting another title from this author. I loved Caine and his patience with Desi, especially given her history. This will be a book that I'll definitely re-read in the future. I loved it, and will immediately begin the second book in this series.
nookname More than 1 year ago
Wow. I enjoyed this first book in the Hell's Eight series SO much, I finished the first 4 in one weekend. If you are looking for erotic (and I do mean extremely HOT sex scenes) and romance, you have found the place. The western part was done pretty well too. Considering the mentality of the time period, honorable men and taking the law into their own hands. And honestly, I was amazed that the author spent so much effort to define the characters so well. Getting to know the characters really made the book more enjoyable. I wait anxiously for the next installment.
Charmed47 More than 1 year ago
I read this series backwards and they were phenominal. The series is so exciting, and original. The connection between the two main characters in each book is just so real. I can hardly wait till the third one comes out this fall. Beware it is a spice book very graphic. But in my opinion tasteful.
Crys08 More than 1 year ago
Westerns are not my favorite, but I bought this book because I like Ms.McCarty's writing style in her parannormal series so I thought I would try this one. I was not disappointed. I was hooked from the frist pages the story was great. Love "Hell's Eight" I have now also bought "Sam's Creed" the second in this series loved it just as much as "Caine's Reckoning" and can't wait for "Tucker's Claim". If you don't like westerns I would recommend you give this one a try you might change your mind.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great Read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book had the potential to be very good, but there were several gaps that just ended up making it frustrating. I think a lot more attention could have been given to detail if the author had not felt the need to prattle on for four chapters about each passionate encounter. The main characters were very likable, and finding out about the inhumane treatment Desi had to endure prior to meeting Caine really made me have empathy for her. However, the story could have been woven together so much better if really important details hadn't been omitted, particularly toward the end of the story. It just seems like way too much time was wasted describing their intimacy. It got to the point were I felt like screaming 'THEY WERE HOT FOR EACH OTHER AND EVEN HOTTER TOGETHER -- WE GET THAT! NOW PLEASE JUST GET ON WITH TELLING US THE STORY!'
Guest More than 1 year ago
I don't like 'historical' but this author does write some excellent 'hot cowboy' stories, and this one (a new series by the name of Hell's Eight) is extremely good. McCarty really puts emotion and 'personality' into her characters, and the hardship the hero and heroine have gone through before they meet up with each other, give them great depth of personality. The angst of Desi trying to overcome what has happen to her. Wanting to trust, but so afraid to. Caine's patience, his screw ups and his fortitude to keep on going, trying to help Desi (determined to help her). His determination to make a 'real' marriage between them. The conflicting emotions that Desi has, and of course, through it all, the 'protection' factor (Caine trying to protect Desi from the 'bad guy', while Desi is trying to 'protect' Caine from the 'bad guy' hurting Him) runs through the whole story. Along with the 'WHY' are these people after Desi? In my opinion, this is one of the best historical westerns I've ever read, and I'm looking forward to Ms McCarty's next Hell's Eight book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Caine's Reckoning by Sarah McCarty. Where do I start? It started off with a bang that sucked me right into the story and ended on a more emotional note, one that had the tears flowing. Oh how I love a book that takes me on a roller coaster ride emotionally. I won't go into the plot or try to summarize it for you as so many others have done, but I do have to ask you one question: Did you all laugh aloud as I did at the rooster scene? And the second one on page 428? I must share the snippet: She looked down at the red pacifier in her hand and then at the dog. 'What do you think, Boone? Should we throw away our scruples or make a stand for what's right?' Boone eyed the monster. It spread its wings and crowed. Mid-crow, Boone shivered and let out a moan of pure terror. Desi glanced at the outhouse. Shadow would be popping out of there any minute now, which meant expediency was her best bet if she didn't want a twenty-minute lecture. 'You're right. We don't have time for scruples.' She tossed the pacifier on the ground. Cantankerous went for it with unholy zeal. She shook her head as he hopped on board. 'That's just not right.' LOL...No, it's not right, but it sure is freaking funny. That as well as the scene where Caine is teaching Desi to shoot and she misses on purpose 'the purpose is a kiss', shooting the outhouse instead of her target, and Sam comes running out pulling up his drawers, gun at the ready. Snort. Ms. McCarty paints a very vivid picture, one that made me laugh out loud. I felt so badly for all the men of the Hell's Eight, what they went through when they were little boys. The old West was a son of a bear, wasn't it? Forcing boys to grow into men before their time, and allowing women to be used as any man saw fit. Son of a bear, indeed! I enjoyed watching Desi bloom as she found her footing on the ranch, and mostly after she learned that she didn't have to work herself into the ground to earn Caine's respect. She'd already had it. I liked Caine from the first page. I found his hard exterior very attractive, but when his sensitive side came to the fore, that was when I fell in love with him. Together Caine and Desi learn to give and take, to bend, and in the process find love. She's the one thing he'd never expected to find, he's not at all what she expected her husband to be, yet together they find the one thing neither knew they were looking for: Each other. Caine's Reckoning is a story of hope, a story of grit and determination. At the core of the story I found love, laughter, and family. This is a story that will stay with me for a long time, and one I will read time and time again as I anxiously await the next book in the series: Sam's Creed.