Review: Taylin Clavelli – Dakota Skies

dakotaAuthor: Taylin Clavelli
Reviewer:Vivian
Publisher:Wayward Ink Publishing
Genre:M/M Cowboy
ISBN: 9781925222036

Rating: ★★½☆☆ 

Summary:
Born in the wrong time…

In 1875 Dakota, Sheriff Jamie Carter has to hide his interest in men, even from his gutsy twin sister, Anna. On a good day, the truth can mean a bullet between the eyes, and on a bad, one in the back.

A man on a mission…

Jamie leaves Anna in charge of Blackrock and he hits the bounty hunting trail, along with his faithful equine companion, Houston. Five territories, scores of ‘Wanted’ posters, and many bullets later, his path unexpectedly converges with that of enigmatic loner, Kit Brooks.

Two men with one soul…

Will the smoldering fire between them rage into an inferno and break down protective barriers, allowing them to find love? Or will it separate and kill them?

Beneath Dakota skies…

Jamie and Kit’s story is a sweeping saga of cowboys, Indians, persistent broads, and vengeful villains, where the cowboys aren’t always the good guys, and love can’t be taken for granted.
Review:
So much to love here, and so much dragging it down. The concept of this story was great, but it would have benefitted from more aggressive editing to tighten the storyline and eliminate multiple sloughs that bogged it down.

I think much of it has to do with the writing style which is much more reminiscent of a mini-series than a novel. There were several plot line spin-outs, diversions in the tale that were interesting, but I just wasn’t expecting and made the story feel really long. A lot longer than it is.

This is written in a history-as-we-wish it style to some degree. It is a western featuring twins who become sheriffs, which is highly unrealistic for a female and male siblings to hold the position, the same title, cost and no woman would be hired as such. Rules of society are relaxed in the territories, but not that much.

What was lovely was the inclusion of the Sioux storyline. There was rich character development in Mason and Daniel. The highlighted difference between “town” and “Indian” beliefs were both interesting and thought provoking, making the reader question who is truly the savage.

There are also some point-of-view decisions that made sense, but distance the reader and slowed down the pace. The third person omniscience in first chapter to explain the characters, time and setting. Fine for establishing the setting, but it did flicker back and forth from omniscient to third person and hopping back and forth between the characters. Additionally, the flash backwards and forwards in time were not seamless. Finally, the unnatural dialogue between Kit (Daniel) and Jay when they first met was awkward.

I thought this was a romance about Jay, the sheriff, and Daniel. But in reality it is about Jay and his sister Anna. We follow whole sections that have nothing to do with Jay as in chapter four. We head back to Anna in Blackrock and the town’s goings on. In fact, the first romance has nothing to do with Jay, but his sister and the first kiss is undeniably heterosexual female sheriff and visiting older male gambler.

There are some inconsistencies and just things that made me do a double take. Anna hears noise from her brother’s room at night and opens it to spy on two individuals having sex–clearly one’s going to be her brother since it’s his room so her surprise after the fact was not believable. Additionally, watching her spying on her brother in what has otherwise been a fairly wholesome story is a bit odd, out of place, and off-putting.

One of my favorite things about the story and redeemed it enough that I wanted to finish it was the fantastic knowledge of tribal territories seamlessly woven into the story. Clearly, the author devoted time to the history and maps and it showed. There was just too much minutiae and side plot lines to be an truly engaging read for me. If you’re looking for a meandering historical western then this will suit you.

Overall, I loved parts of this story, but it dragged in several places and I stopped multiple times.

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