Even on vacation, I pack several books into my carry-on. While I never know what I’ll be in the mood for, I know I’ll feel restless enough to switch back and forth between every single story. Last week as I sat piggy in the middle on my flight from New Orleans back home, the windows obscured by bodies and blinds, I rummaged around for something short and entertaining. Postcards from the Edge written and narrated by Carrie Fisher, took me from NOLA to Denver. For the next part of my trip, I returned to a new favorite novelette, California Skies by Kayla Bashe.
California Skies is an exciting adventure featuring revenge, love, a badass bounty hunter, a woman on a mission, and a wild west posse. The curtains open on a battered, but not broken Maggie leaving the hospital. Bandits murdered her brother and leave her and her sister for dead, as they ravage the family’s land in search of its reputed treasure. To hell with everyone’s warnings, Maggie doesn’t give a damn about bounty hunter California Talbot’s reputation. All she knows is that Talbot was a wonderful childhood friend of both her and her brother. Vengeance has nothing to do with Maggie being a “nice girl”.
Author Kayla Bashe conjures up rough and tumble, adventure fun. Bashe creates a rich, full story in less than 12,000 words. With her precise pacing, she never lingers overlong on any one part of the tale. The titular character, California Talbot, defies those who would say that they are a “no good” bounty hunter. Despite appearances, Talbot is a complex character. They would give up their best pale blue calico garment if it meant helping orphans and widows. Maggie, for her part, is stronger than her imaginative nature might convey. She doesn’t so much need Talbot to act as a savior so much as she needs a partner. The two pair up to round-up and dispose of the vicious Chelson gang. Along the way, Maggie and Talbot discover they have a deeper connection.
I highly recommend California Talbot for anyone longing for a satisfiying, bite-sized ride in the old west featuring strong characters.
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