Sarah McCarty’s “Shadow’s Stand” is part of her Hell’s Eight series and tells the intriguing tale of Shadow Ochoa and Fei Yen Tseng. Each of these two unique characters has had to overcome the stigma of being a mixed breed in a society that disdains minorities. Fei has struggled against discrimination in two different countries as she dutifully accompanied her strict Chinese father and complied with his demands. Their somewhat elevated status amongst the rough characters that build the railroads is only due to an expertise with explosives but Fei has had to hone her skills secretly in a society that looks down on her because of both her heritage and her gender. A desperate gamble causes her to rescue Shadow as he is about to be hung, but it is questionable whether he is going to comply with her demands since he has his own strict code of behavior. Shadow is inexplicably drawn to the woman who has such sharp contrasts between the meekness expected from one of Chinese descent and the sharp-tongued woman who is determined to save herself and her family from the fate that seems inevitable. Shadow himself is a wanted man and has spurned the overtures of his twin brother and the rest of the Hell’s Eight in a misguided effort to protect them but he has no problem invoking their protection for the woman who becomes a significant part of his life, however short it may be.
This is a fast-moving tale of the intriguing intersection between cultures forced by the rapid expansion across the country. Despite the connection to previous events, this can be read as a stand-alone book with no problem although it will be enriched by familiarity with the series. The deliciously hard-bitten heroes of the series and the women who manage to tame them into some degree of civility form a excellent basis for a vision of the rough and ready society that includes Texas Rangers, gold miners, railroad workers and the influx of exotic Chinese into frontier life. Shadow is a stubbornly determined product of his background but runs into another person who is a fascinating mixture of headstrong rebel and untouched innocent. Their tale is mesmerizing and a fantastic read that will keep one up late at night. I am anxiously awaiting the next story in this seductive series.
Shadow Ochoa is lying low in the western Kansas Territory, waiting for his fellow Texas Rangers—the Hell's Eight brotherhood—to clear his name. That is, until he's unjustly strung up for horse thieving…and pretty Fei Yen intervenes. Invoking a seldom-used law, the exotic lady prospector claims Shadow as her husband and rides off with the bridegroom shackled to her buckboard.
Savvy, fearless Fei is single-mindedly devoted to her hidden claim and all it promises: wealth, security and freedom. A husband is just a necessary inconvenience and a name on paper to hold the claim she cannot.
Shadow isn't a man to take orders from anyone, especially from lovely Fei—except that the daily friction between them ignites into nightly blazes of all-consuming passion. Soon Shadow is dreaming a little himself: of the life they could have if only Fei could see past the lure of independence. If only bounty hunters weren't closing in on him. If only he's left standing when the impending showdown has ended….