Review – Gun Shy (Reapers #2) by Eleri Stone

Reviewed by: E

Before the cure, Lieutenant Lyle Dalton’s job was simple: kill the Reapers. Now, under orders to inject all captured flesh eaters with the serum that restores their humanity, his Rangers at Fort Dougan face entirely new dangers. Someone wanted the Reaper cure badly enough to spill blood for it, and Lyle needs to steal it back if he hopes to hold the border.

Jane Fisher escaped Scraper crime boss Gideon Moore with only the clothes on her back. What he took from her can never be replaced, but her new home at Fort Dougan is the first safe one she’s known. Or was, until the remaining supply of serum was stolen, flown high into the mountains on Gideon’s command. Serving as Lyle’s guide through Scraper territory means revisiting her own personal hell, but it’s also an opportunity—for closure or revenge, Jane isn’t quite sure.

Beautiful, proud and haunted, Jane is a temptation Lyle’s worked hard to avoid. The mountains are the last place she needs to be. But if Jane can find the courage to face down a man like Gideon for the sake of the fort, no force on earth will keep Lyle from her side.
This blurb came from Goodreads

A couple of years back I read and enjoyed the first book in Stone’s Reaper series Reaper’s Touch. She mixed the feel of the old Western, flesh-eating ravening zombies called Reapers, pampered socialites, frontiers-people, law by might and fear, and Rangers trying to protect the settlements from zombies. Then she added rational Reapers, a potential cure, and love and I was totally hooked. I met her at a book convention and mentioned how I enjoyed the story. In response to my interest she sent me a copy of Gun Shy that sadly managed to get lost on my reader. I recently found it and once I started reading I quickly remembered how much I liked this world with all of its stark emotion.

Gun Shy started with two emotional punches right off the bat and each time I thought I had regained my footing something else was revealed and I found myself marveling once more at the resiliency and determination of the main characters. Lyle was making the rough mental transformation from a life of killing Reapers to merely injuring them, injecting them with the serum, and turning the survivors loose to become productive members of society. He was also reluctantly attracted to Jane, a woman who appeared to have an obsession with one of his fellow Rangers. Jane escaped/was rescued from a vicious crime boss after suffering a heartbreaking loss. She didn’t fit in with most of the townsfolk and the one person she knew from her past, her rescuer, kept turning down her overtures. During the time she spent in the town supporting Fort Dougan, she knew who Lyle was but never seemed to see anything coming from him except pity and a slight annoyance. Then Jane and Lyle were stuck working together to recover the last few bottles of serum stolen by a crime boss.

It was fascinating watching the emotional arc between Jane and Lyle as they were forced to not only work together but to depend on each other for any chance of success. Jane knew the people involved and how they tended to operate while Lyle knew how to survive the cross-country journey and had some legal backing. Even with all of Lyle’s practical knowledge and experience Jane caught him off-guard on more than one occasion. I was pleased to see her get some of her own back along the way.

In addition to the building relationship between Jane and Lyle, Stone expanded and deepened her world. I liked the explanation of how and why certain people became Rangers and the potential danger of early identification. I also shared some of the same fears Lyle had about the “cured” Reapers and how/if they would become productive members of society or just continue to operate in lawless yet thinking groups. While Jane and Lyle were trying to deal with the local situation Abby and Jake, the h/h of the first book, were thrown neck deep into politics. They accompanied Fort Dougan’s Captain on a trip to secure additional funding and provide proof of the serum’s ability. In addition they were hoping to find proof of collusion with a sentient Reaper in a recent massacre. It was very enjoyable to see them in action and to see how they managed to assist Jane and Lyle.

Gun Shy was a touching emotionally raw story. Jane impressed me with her strength and resolve even as she shocked Lyle at times. Lyle also did a lot of growing, maturing, and shedding of preconceived notions. I thought the way Jane HAD to make a decision regarding what she was going to do with her life after the hunt for the serum ended. It really showed how much she changed. The reveals and new developments in Gun Shy make me kinda glad I don’t have to wait for the next installment because I really want to know where this is going.

I give Gun Shy a B

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