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Reviewed by Paul F. Murray for Readers' Favorite
Sophia’s father, an Italian immigrant, loses a poker game to Comanche Crow, a ruthless outlaw who leads a conscienceless band of thugs known as the Hellfire Gang. As a result, Comanche Crow claims Sophia as his prize. He calls her “Little One”, a supposedly affectionate name that belies how he actually treats her—like nothing more than captured chattel. Comanche Crow has an ugly long scar on his face and he regards Sophia as his mistress. Comanche Crow also regards Sophia as a member of his gang and he expects her to take part in the raids and killing. Along comes Sheriff Cooper Blackwater, determined to kill Comanche Crow and put an end to his gang’s depredations. Sophia is caught in the middle, with Sheriff Blackwater developing an attraction for her despite her supposed membership in the Hellfire Gang. However, Comanche Crow is determined to punish any betrayal with his knife that delivers a blow worse than death.
Blackwater Burning by Elle Marlow richly deserves its 5-star rating. I thoroughly enjoyed Blackwater Burning. This short novel is a blessing for fans of Western romance fiction who do not have time to read very long stories. Sophia’s tenderheartedness, especially toward an orphaned baby that Comanche Crow and his gang simply want to kill, will keep any reader turning the pages to see how Sophia as a victimized young woman - clearly out of her element - deals with her situation. Sophia’s desperate attempts to avoid a sexual relationship with the ugly Comanche Crow and to avoid having to commit murder in a raid demonstrate how Marlow is an imaginative writer who actually knows how to write creatively. Marlow has delivered one hell of a thriller here! A pretty good story.