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Unscrupulous by Morgan Lee Wylie

Gunfighter Josiah Wyland is tired of meeting his reputation in every town, of seeing his daddy’s blue eyes glaring back at him from the mirror, of knowing he’ll never be loved.

Seven years ago, he was just a boy, smitten with a girl, wishing for a life like everyone else’s. That was before he shot and killed a man, before he rode with a gang of Arizona Territory’s most indiscriminate villains, and before he ended up in Yuma Prison. Now Josiah is a bounty hunter, trying to avoid his father’s fate, still looking for a way to prove himself a better man. He gets his chance when Sheriff Rook Kelly sends Josiah to rescue his wayward bride. After her parents’ deaths, sheltered Aimee traded freedom for protection. Desperate to escape the husband she’s come to fear, she discovers her best and only hope is a scarred stranger with a black past, deadly aim, and merciless blue eyes. On the run from bandits, the sheriff’s posse, and a vengeful ex-lawman, Josiah and Aimee forge a connection, on a dark night in the desert wilderness, that is jeopardized when they return to civilization — where Josiah’s reputation threatens Aimee’s, where decent folk will never allow an unscrupulous no count to be worthy of a good woman’s love. Unscrupulous is a last-chance coming-of-age story and a romance as raw and gritty as the Old West.

Sherry Terry’s Review: 4.5-Stars

LOVED IT! Unscrupulous by Morgan Lee Wylie is fantastic! I like the cover, but I think it could use a touch of romance to show there is a love story there. It’s dark and gives a good sense of the tortured characters.

The writing is raw and gritty and extremely well done. I tried, trust me I did try to find weak sentences and paragraphs that could have been stronger. If there were any, I didn’t notice them. I instantly felt empathy for the main characters, Josiah and Aimee. Both are beautifully flawed and Morgan’s writing slams you into their shoes, keeping you there for the whole story.

You want western? This book has it all. I could smell the smells, hear the sounds, and feel the wooden floor under my feet as I read. This author does a wonderful job of planting you in the story with lots of description and action and all things western. The dialog is good, the setting descriptions are fantastic, and each character stands out.

My only one complaint as an editor is the head hopping. I would have rather just read the scene from one POV than hopping from character to character in short bursts. This felt like 3rd person POV, but then it seemed to jump to Omni, then back again… No matter, this did not take away from my overall enjoyment of the story as you can see with my rating.

The romance is more on the sweet side with some graphic language but this is not an erotica by any means. This is a good book, and the author needs to get busy publishing more.

Diane Andersen’s Review: 5-Stars

Unscrupulous by Morgan Lee Wylie

What’s not to love about an old-fashioned rip-roaring, rootin’ tootin’ shootin’ Western? In the case of Unscrupulous, there’s not much to balk at. Wylie turns in a faithful version of the kind of Westerns that were a mainstay in American culture up till a few years ago when they, sadly, fell out of fashion in the literary world as well as Hollywood films. But this author proves they are back with a vengeance.

Gunslingers, ruthless shootouts in the street, outlaws turned dirty lawmen. This tale has all the grit and steely action of a Clint Eastwood Spaghetti Western and the classic themes of High Noon or Shane — perhaps a bit predictable, but still well worth the ride. Josiah Wyland, gunslinger recently paroled from Yuma Prison for killing a man, heeds Sheriff Rook Kelly’s call for help in settling his own domestic matter. Kelly’s wife, Aimee, has plans to flee her loveless marriage and abusive husband, with the help of two old childhood friends, Tyler and Trace Mallory.

After Wyland meets the gentle and sweet Aimee, he soon becomes smitten with her and longs for the kind life the love a good woman can bring. Yes, here we have a tried and true theme of many old-fashioned Westerns. The hard-bitten repentant gunslinger. The sweet prairie lass with a heart of gold. The sheriff and an outlaw gang of brothers. Yet here it veers further into the realm of romance than most Westerns dare to (although arguably, nearly every Western has a touch of romance or at least a love interest) So, for those readers of Westerns who don’t mind a little romance and riding off into the sunset or for those romance readers who don’t mind a little shoot ’em up gunfight action, this book has the right blend of both.

In terms of writing, there were a few issues that in editing would have made for smoother, richer storytelling. Several characters are introduced within the first few chapters, all in short pithy scenes that jump from one point of view to another. It almost seemed the author was fearful of falling into the “head-hopping” trap but really wanted to write in omniscient. Perhaps that might have been a better choice. Or at least stick with one point of view and combine all early scenes together accordingly before introducing a new character.

Characterizations were not badly drawn for the most part, even if relying on some overdone stereotypes. The good guys were fair-haired and the bad ones dark and swarthy. Aimee was a bit bland, sickly and downright wimpy, making me wonder what allure she seemingly held over every man she meets, except her own husband. That seemed a bit overstated and unrealistic.

But these are small matters that should not keep readers from enjoying this coming-of-age tale whether they are lovers of romance, old-school Westerns or just good all-around stories of friendship, hope, and last chances.

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