Harsh Reality by Elle E. Ire is a weird west romance set in the old west, and the new west.
Oblivion in1891 is a quiet New Mexico town with an unusual sheriff. California McCade, Cali when she’s off duty, Sheriff when’s she on the clock, takes care of business with a sure shot, an even temper, and the backing of her small but friendly home town. Some people know she’s seeing one of the upstairs girls at the saloon off and on but no one talks about it. Three seemingly drunken gold miners stumble into town and faster than you can slap leather, the town is on fire and Cali finds herself sent into a different time.
She wakes in 2019 and quickly finds herself on the set of a new reality tv show playing herself, the original Sheriff McCade of Oblivian. Who knows what a tv is, but it gives her the time and opportunity to fight the demons who destroyed her town. It’s not easy being around people who remind her so much of the townsfolk she lost in the demon attack, especially the Vegas showgirl who looks and acts just like her long ago girlfriend. Whatever a Vegas showgirl is.
Pros And My Favourite Parts
The book begins with a crazy preacher and his feisty parrot accosting a woman sheriff on a dusty old west street. And there are zombies. Weird west books have never been my cup of tea but this one was a load of fun all the way through. The author grounds the story solidly with the first chapters introducing us to the town of Oblivion, its many characters and the Sheriff. When the demon spawn show up and mayhem ensues, it’s tough to see the place and people you’ve already begun to care about get wiped off the map.
But then Cali wakes in our era and things get even more bendy. The Oblivion that burned before her eyes is now rebuilt and populated by people who look disturbingly similar to the townsfolk who had just died in her mind, but a hundred and twenty five years previous in real time. Beyond dealing with that in her head, she finds herself pretending to be a person pretending to be Cali McCade on a tv show pretending to be set in her destroyed old town. All that bendiness was a lot of fun, especially her frequent confusion over newfangled things like AC, whatever that is, electric lights and indoor plumbing.
Beyond fitting in and fighting demons, the most difficult thing she has to deal with is her feelings for the woman playing Arlene, the upstairs girl she loved in the original Oblivion. Original Arlene is tough and smart, but newfangled Arlene is even more fun. The romance is well paced and sweet. Something I didn’t expect was to find a secretive woman-only enclave. The book acknowledges and briefly features a few gender fluid characters in a time typically reserved for the straight male crowd. I would very much enjoy seeing a sequel to this book, if there ever is one.
Cons And Heads Up
There are demon spawn and they’re nasty, so be prepared for violence and gruesome imagery.
Sheriff Cali McCade keeps the peace in 1891 Oblivion, New Mexico despite being a woman who secretly dates one of the upstairs girls at the saloon. Things get weird in Oblivion when it’s destroyed by demons, and Cali is sent through time to modern New Mexico. To have any chance of fighting the demons before they do any more damage, she must take a job playing Sheriff Cali McCade on a tv reality show. One of the other actors bears an uncanny resemblance to her lost love, so she has to deal with her feelings while battling demons. There is a lot of action and humor throughout, and definite weirdness. This is a fun romp through the old and new west.
Excerpt from Harsh Reality by Elle E. Ire
My stare fell on Baylor like a bucket of water in January.
Suddenly, the rail post at the edge of the general store’s porch seemed particularly interesting to him. “Sorry, Sheriff McCade.”
Everyone knew I preferred to be called “Sheriff” while on duty. Hard enough to maintain authority as a woman without drawing extra attention to my too feminine first name.
I rested a hand on Baylor’s shoulder. “No, I’m sorry, Jake. Just hoping for a nice quiet Monday. That’s all.”
He stood, his lanky frame too thin for his six feet of height, and watched the trio of minors disappearing through the saloon’s swinging doors. The tinkling of piano keys I’d barely been aware of ceased drifting across to us on the fair breeze.
“Don’t think you’re gonna get it.”
Hank never stopped playing the saloon’s old upright. Not in the late afternoon while trying to draw in the evening crowd.
“Neither do I.” Tucking my shirttail into my dungarees, I set off at a brisk pace down the boardwalk lining the street. Baylor kept pace behind me.
We paused for two horses pulling a creaking wagon to pass, and I took the opportunity to tighten the strip of rawhide holding my long hair in a plaited braid that hung heavy between my shoulder blades. The wagon lumbered on, its noise drowning out any trouble that might have been erupting in the saloon.
“Miss Cali! Deputy Baylor!”
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Bits and Bobs
ASIN number: B0B3LLC9KR
Publisher: DSP Publications
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