Fall From Grace
Lily loses her childhood the day the Sharpe gang murders her parents and "adopted" her. They brought her into their world, and taught her who to be ruthless and smart.
Soon, Lily the Cat is wanted by the law. But, in the act of revenge she has planned for twelve years, Lily betrays the outlaws. And then she deceived Texas Sharpe, reluctant heir to the notorious gang--the man who loved her, married her, and defied his father for her. But although he desired her like no other, she used him - and his love.
And he was about to show Lily just how ruthless a man betrayed could be...
Well this is certainly a different romance! In fact, the romance is subdued with Lily and Texas at odds and each others throats for a great deal of the time. Their life of crime not only brought them together, it's pulling them apart. Lily wants more but Texas doesn't want to give her up. Even if he wanted to he can't, his father has ordered Texas to bring Lily back and Texas won't go against his father.
Lily Sharpe's life changed dramatically when she was twelve. She went from a child with two parents who loved her to a tenuous existence in a gang of killers and thieves. Her one goal became to survive. Which she did, integrating herself into the gang and becoming a well known thief herself. Lily is such a unique heroine. She has become cold, calculating and ruthless at times. She knows she is all those things and while she doesn't necessarily like it, her reality is such that she needs to be those things to survive. I liked Lily for what she had survived but she has a cold side to her and the empathy I thought I should/would feel for her wasn't always there.
Texas Sharpe has a code of conduct he tries to follow. He doesn't always succeed and that success often depends on the action of others. Texas doesn't like to kill but he will when necessary. He will kill for the gang and for survival. He's not a cold blooded killer but he does use his upbringing to justify his actions. It can be hard to see Texas as a hero. He's a criminal, a killer and yet the author shows the reader why Texas makes the choices he does. He doesn't see a way out so he makes the best of the situation he's in. He's still nowhere near what I would consider an ideal hero but he did prove to be interesting if only to find out what he will do next with Lily and the problems she creates.
The story is dark with Lily and Texas at turns filled with love and mistrust of each other. The complexity of their relationship makes it hard to believe they could have a strong and loving marriage while still in the gang. There is just too much to overcome, with Lily's relationship with Hank Sharpe, Texas' father, being a huge obstacle. Lily hates Hank but part of her wants to be loved by him. The little girl who watched her mother gunned down is desperate to be loved again. For me, I merely waited and hoped Hank would be killed.
Chance is a skilled writer, giving the reader a distinct feel for the old west and the outlaw lifestyle. It's not pretty but brutal and grim with very little light except for the odd camaraderie these outlaws have for each other. Odd because they can not trust that they won't find a bullet in their back from one of their fellow outlaws at some point. But they still band together when they need to.
Fall From Grace isn't a light, happy romance but rather a look at survival and the cost of loving someone. It's an emotional story with some very serious situations that don't always turn out the way you would hope. Even with its unconventional characters and setting, I found it compelling in the intensity of emotions. It is a novel I think you would need to be in the right mood to truly appreciate.
Interview with Mark Holme, author of Arkstone
2 hours ago