Sunsets & Showdowns
by Maz Maddox
Volume 7 of Stallion Ridge
Tags: Western Fantasy Shifters
Posted in Book Reviews on May 25, 2022
Kindly note that the books in this series are very much meant to be read in order. If you haven't read the previous books of the series, this review may contain some spoilers.
Stallion Ridge's richest resident didn't get where he is by playing by the rules. If the townsfolk knew some of the things he had done, they wouldn't be so welcoming despite all of the business he has bought to the growing city. Leo thinks he has the people, and their upstanding mayor, handled. The man he fears most is a bigger problem. West knows what Leo has done, helped him do some of it, and wants him dead. And, he's heading to Stallion Ridge for a final showdown. To deal with him, Leo sends his bodyguard Gin to take West out, but can a samurai dragon take out a legendary centaur bent on revenge?
The “ghost” of sheriff, now mayor, Calhoun's older brother has been a more or less constant thread through the entire series, and now with this conclusion of the Stallion Ridge stories, we finally get to meet the man Cal thought was dead. West is a complicated character. Raised in a family where honor and duty were the most highly prized traits, his experiences in the war changed him, in ways he isn't proud of, which is why he chose to disappear when the war ended. You may not agree with the choices West made. Even he doesn't agree with them, but they make him a very believable character.
Leo's bodyguard Gin was introduced in the third book, Suspects & Scales, but hasn't played much of a role in the subsequent stories. So, we're really just getting to know him in this last book. Although real-world countries and cultures are not referenced much in this fantasy, still, Gin clearly comes from a Japanese-styled warrior-class tradition, where duty and honor are held in high regard. It just so happens he's also a dragon.
In many ways, Gin and West are a lot alike, which is probably one of reasons they're attracted to each other. It's also why they drive each other crazy. Added to the forces keeping them apart, you really have to wonder if these two will get a happily ever after.
This entire series has featured some really good stories, all set in a solidly built fantasy world where humans and animal shifters co-exist. I'm not a big fan of westerns, but the setting of the series in something like the “old west” works extremely well. It gives just the right leeway between law-and-order and doing what's right. While the plots of each book have been somewhat formulaic, there have been enough unique twists and turns, as well as radically different characters, to keep each one interesting. It's probably a good thing the series is ending, since things might start to get really stale if there were more books.
“Sunsets & Showdowns” is available from Amazon.