A guest review by Kassa
Summary Review: A lovely and satisfying short story.
If their gravelly-voiced front man died in the wreck that claimed the rest of Trickster, what’s he doing filling in for a tribute band’s absent guitarist? All Killian Desmond wants is to forget that tragic accident, make a few bucks off rodeo wins and pick-up gigs, and occasionally find a willing one-night stand. A listening ear in the form of a fellow musician he dubs Tex reopens old wounds. Tex knows the songs and hears the pain—Killy may have found more than he was looking for.
I’m pretty open about my admiration and love of Eden Winters’ writing and dayum, that woman has done it again with Highway Man. Just a quick story, too quick in my opinion, that introduces some intense characters, a hint of possible love, painful pasts, and a cowboy future. Seriously I’m not sure what else the author could have included but altogether this delightful little story is wonderfully angsty, incredibly hot, and a delicious bite you won’t want to miss.
The short story is told from Killian’s perspective. He’s been hiding in plain sight for the last three years, the only surviving member of a pseudo-famous band and tragic accident. That accident has left more scars than just the obvious ones on Killian and his gypsy lifestyle is taking its toll. When he picks up a temporary gig playing with a cover band for his real, long dead band, Killy meets a long tall drink of water Texan that has him reevaluating some choices.
I don’t want to give away any more of the story because it’s really only a few pages and the way it all unfolds is part of the fun. What stands out the most really is the writing. Here Winters has managed to offer a close to fully realized hero in Killian, complete with tragic, painful past and rodeo, cowboy future. I’m not sure if there’s a better combination to make for some scorching hot sex and a wonderfully tortured leading man. Killian feels real almost from the beginning with a lot of depth and nuanced emotion. His story and past is offered piecemeal throughout the story in small bites that continue to intrigue and excite as they’re revealed.
The only downside is the opposite hero, Mike, is barely there. He’s more an idea than a developed character and while the sex between the two is pretty hot and I’ve no complaints, the story is simply too short to really give him any decent weight. It’s more about Killian’s need for someone and desire not to be alone that creates Mike and their chemistry rather than two separate men that decide to be together. That’s not a deterrent to the story though as Killian has enough charm and delicious angst ridden guilt to more than make up for any qualms.
The story includes a lot of different elements, perhaps too much, from a tragic rock ‘n roll past to the gypsy lifestyle and potential rodeo future. I wish the story had focused on perhaps one of those instead of including all of them, yet at the same time the story really works well as it is. It’s hot, interesting, and the characters (especially Killian) grab you immediately. I wish this had been developed into a full story but I do so enjoy it as is. I easily recommend this to any reader who wants a hot bite full of delicious tension and some tragic angst (just a bit though).