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Paxton's Winter

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~Fallen Angel Reviews On-line Review Magazine
from NeNe
May, 2009

Rating: 5 Angels (highest rating) & "Recommended Read"

Rancher Paxton Terhune thought his chance at love died with his lover the day a lynch mob exacted their version of justice. Pax's reason for living has changed to revenge, and his sights are set on a corrupt miner owner who Pax believes had a hand in his lover's death. Pax has a price put on his head when he starts to cause too much trouble.

Bounty Hunter Zane Steadman would rather criminals come willingly, but has no trouble putting a bullet through those willing to fight or kill him to escape. Pax shows none of the signs Zane's used to seeing in lawbreakers, and he takes the time to find out the truth for himself.

Pax and Zane become lovers and in time Zane decides Pax feels like something he hasn't felt in years - Pax is home to Zane. Zane is willing to do anything to protect home, and the man who has captured his heart. However, with corruption on their heels, it will take both men to discover the truth and protect their plans for a future together.

T. D. McKinney thoroughly quenched my hunger for a gay western romance with Paxton's Winter. Paxton is anything but your average handsome rancher, with a great deal hidden below the surface. Regardless of where he hails from, Pax knows how to enjoy the simple things in life. Zane also grew up in humble surroundings filled with love. Zane is a fair bounty hunter, and a good man to have on your side. The two hit it off like peas in a pod, and the relationship flows smoothly without feeling forced or constricted. With the vivid description of the valley and the picturesque view of the ranch, I could almost feel the snowflakes melting on my cheek and the blistering wind having me seek out warmth. Paxton's Winter delivers action, mystery, and romance for our enjoyment. I'm looking forward to reading more from this talented author in the near future.

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~Rainbow Reviews On-line Review Magazine
from PermaFrost
April, 2009

Rating: 5 Stars (highest rating)

Rancher Paxton Terhune had carved out a contented life in the high Rocky Mountains, living happily with his life partner Maddox, a free African-American whose family had worked for Paxton's grandfather. Life is rough but productive, until Maddox ~ a logical choice because of his ethnicity ~ is framed for the murder of a saloon girl. Before Paxton can bail him out safely, a lynch mob stirred into action by the real killer breaks Maddox out of the jail and hangs him before Paxton's anguished gaze.

Next Paxton is targeted for a murder of which he's innocent, and flees to the mountains where bounty hunter Zane Steadman finally locates him. Unusually, both Paxton and Zane are gay and heart-hungry as well as physically lonely. Trapped in a sudden early snowstorm in the mountains as Paxton predicts, the two find common ground, first in lust and then in a developing love which changes Zane's entire approach to turning Paxton in for bounty.

Author T.D. McKinney, who has penned several exciting gay-themed novels, has a deft touch with delineating a well-researched historical period, turned to a new perspective that has not traditionally been explored: that of the gay experience, and of multiracial love, in the American Old West. I really enjoyed this novel, both for the new historical view, and also for the interwoven lives of the protagonists, Paxton, Zane, and the absent deceased Maddox, who is also a major part of the novel. The m/m sex is steamy and is thoroughly grounded in heartfelt emotion which grows realistically as Zane and Paxton spend time together, first involuntarily while snowbound, later by choice. I highly recommend this fine novel and author T. D. McKinney.

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~Elisa Rolle, On-line Review Blog
April 23, 2009

Paxton's Winter is an old classical western romance with the twist to be a male on male love story. But if not for this twist, all the other elements of a good western romance are there: the wealthy and cultured southern man with more ideals than better sense who chose to live in the Far West were he can be who he really wants to be (and due to that twist here it means that he was in love with not only a man, but also a black man); then the villain decided that he didn't like our southern hero, Paxton, and killed his lover Maddox (who was probably an interesting character, but since this is a novella, he is already dead when the story starts). Paxton, obviously, like a good Far West hero is searching for vengeance and the villain, as much as obviously, hires a payed killer... well, a bounty hunter, Zane, but there is not much difference. And since this is a romance, the outlaw falls in love for the bounty killer.

The story even if short, builds a very nice set up: Paxton is maybe a bit too much a romance hero, I don't know how many wealthy southern gay men were leaving in the Far West, but lately I found often in gay romances, that the Far West was a common destination for those men who wanted to run away from the strict rules of society. So maybe there were more than I believed and then, in places where the life for women was not so simple, maybe it was not so strange or talked upon if two men lived together, four hands were better than two, and you also saved wood for fire during the winter.

Anyway, the love story between Paxton and Zane is easy and natural, without regrets from any side, and they start it like something more than friendship but not yet love; two bodies in a snowstorm searching warm and comfort. But Paxton has an easy way, he is so comfortable with himself, that Zane is hooked since the first moment. Paxton is very much the son of the wealthy family he said he is; it's quite clear that he hasn't had many trouble in his life, and maybe for this reason what happened to Maddox is even more terrible, Paxton is not used to the nasty aspect of life. Where in a way or the other we have a bit of background of Paxton and of his preference for the company of men, we don't know much of Zane; it seems that he is not new at having experiences with men, but we don't know what is his past. Here maybe the fact that this is only a novella weights a bit, since I wouldn't mind to know something more on Zane, he is quite the mysterious man.

There is sex, a lot, but not so detailed; it's more romantic than erotic, I had to read two time the first sex scene to really understand if they did something or not. Not that I'm complaining about it, sometime I prefer less than too much, and in a novella lenght, I prefer a bit of story that endlessly sex scenes.

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~Jaya Reads, On-line Review Blog
May 18, 2009

Overall:  Great novel.  Enjoy it!
Jaya Grade: B+

Okay, this one hit quite a few of my personal kinks, so I thoroughly enjoyed the read.

When we enter the story, our hero Paxton Terhune suddenly finds himself facing the barrel of a bounty hunter's gun. Said bounty hunter, Zane Steadman, has Paxton manacled and headed for Gallywinter's noose on a murder charge in no time. Then comes a quick snow storm and the two must seek shelter in a nearby shack. That's when things get interesting.

What I liked:  T.D. hit several of my kinks with this one: characters with depth, characters who don't want to be in love, a beautiful HEA (happily ever after). I really liked the depth these characters had. There was layer after layer to uncover in Paxton, particularly. I specifically liked the fact that when Zane developed feelings for Pax, there was no second-guessing or turning back. I like my love stories to showcase an enduring love, which this does nicely. I also liked the way that T.D. interwove a cast of interesting characters into the story, including the deceased Maddox.

Oh yeah -- and the sex was hot. I loved it when Pax set out to seduce the poor, deprived Zane.

What I didn't like:  Well, I know the villain had to die and all, but any kind of death is a major squick for me.  Still, it played well with the suspenseful part of the novel.

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~Book Wenches, On-line Review Site
from Teagan Boyd
April 2, 2009

Rating: 4 ~ Great. (This one leaves us with a smile on our face, or at least a thoughtful air. Definitely worth the read, and we'll probably be looking for more from this author as well.)

Paxton Terhune has been on the run for three long years. After escaping a mob that lynched his lover, he has been falsely accused and has had a price put on his head. Bounty hunter Zane Steadman has finally tracked down the elusive outlaw, and he means to collect the bounty. Zane isn't prepared for the feelings that Pax brings out in him. The two are caught in an early winter blizzard and wait for the thaw, but the snow and ice aren't the only things that are getting thawed; Pax finds his heart melting at Zane's touch. The unscrupulous miner that put the bounty on Pax's head is out to get him ,and anyone he thinks is in cahoots with Pax. Pax will do anything to guard his newfound love.

Paxton's Winter is emotional, sweet, and thoroughly western. It features two cowboys, one with a heart broken with grief and one that has the power to heal and learn about love. I really enjoyed both of these characters. Pax has a devil-may-care attitude, because he is trying to protect his heart. Zane starts out the story thinking only of money, not of the man he is taking in. Witnessing his awareness of Pax and his feelings develop is like watching a flower open. Slowly they nurture each other, and the love they find is sweet. It draws the reader in and keeps your interest throughout. I loved the descriptive details in this story. Ms. McKinney describes the clothing and characters so well, it makes the reader feel as if they are right there in the book. I found myself immersed in her novel. I will definitely be reading more of her work.

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~Reviews by JesseWave, On-line Review Blog
A guest review by Aunt Lynn
May 6, 2009

Rating: 4 Stars

Colorado rancher Paxton Terhune has lived a lonely, difficult life for the last three years. First, his longtime lover is strung up by a lynch mob before his eyes. Then corrupt mine owner Henry Lance puts a bounty out on him, forcing him to stay hidden in the mountains for long stretches at a time, only returning to his ranch occasionally to check in. Then bounty hunter Zane Steadman finds him just as a blizzard descends upon the mountainous region, trapping them together in a shack. Passions ignite, and Zane begins to wonder if Pax is the outlaw he's made out to be. But when it appears that Lance once again is going to take away someone important to him, Pax takes a stand against the man responsible for so much pain. Once guns are drawn, who will be left standing? And if he can survive, can Pax let his frozen heart thaw, taking a chance to love again?

This is the first story by T.D. McKinney I’ve read, and I found her to be a solid author. Set in late 1800s Colorado, Paxton's Winter is a well-written and plotted tale of rediscovering the capacity to love and trust, as well as finally saying “enough is enough.” There are really three protagonists here: Paxton, bounty hunter Zane, and Maddox, Paxton’s deceased lover of many years. Maddox plays a large part of the story, even if he isn’t physically present. Additionally, there are classical elements of the Old West story included: the wealthy villain who takes over the town and who everyone is afraid of, the sworn vengeance over the senseless killing of the loved one, the need to take care of the villain by oneself.

Poor Paxton, I really felt for him. Though he’s made himself an almost decadent life for both the region and the time, he’s been through the ringer emotionally. Between the traumatic event of watching his lover being killed by a mob after he was framed for a murder he didn’t commit, and the corrupt silver mine owner who has put a high price on his head, and the bounty hunter looking to collect that prize, he has had a difficult time these last three years. He does seem, however, to be amazingly relaxed about it all (even if he is hiding out in the high country); he takes Zane’s appearance and what it means calmly and reasonably, easily winning over the other man. Educated and cultured, he is an enigma in an area of the country where bathing frequently, dressing for dinner, linens with fine china, and featherbeds are almost unheard of.

I liked watching Zane try to figure out Pax in the beginning Snow or no snow, bounty or not, he was going to find out who the hell Paxton Terhune really was. Because he sure wasn't like any outlaw Zane'd ever met. then his wonderment at the way Pax lives, then realizing he could possibly spend his life differently than his first thirty-one years.

Despite the drama of the bad guys versus the good guys, I found the story to be gentle. Part of that is because all of the conflict is external and the action is only a small part of the plot, leaving the relationship of Pax and Zane untouched by significant angst (outside of that whole "I'm-taking-you-in-dead-or-alive" thing. ;) ). One of the things that struck me was how comfortable both protags are around their preferences; there isn’t self-loathing or high concern of getting found out (not that they flaunt who they are) that you find in many historicals. Another reason for the gentleness, or perception of, is that the smexxin is so subtle that it’s almost non-sexual — alluded to as opposed to described — and if you blink, you may miss it. After reading several stories in a row where there was more sex than plot, I liked this subtlety for a change; it left more room for the story to develop, especially for a book of this length.

I found Paxton's Winter to be a solidly-written, well-paced and plotted tale. I recommend it to anyone who likes historicals -- especially Old West -- or those who like a good romance without tons of angst.

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~Literary Nymphs, On-line Review Blog
From Satyr Vael
May 3, 2009

Rating: 4.5 Nymphs  

Paxton “Pax” Terhune is a former rancher who's holed himself up in the mountains, far away from a nightmarish past. His lover was hung while he watched, and a ruthless mine owner is now after Pax. Bounty hunter Zane Steadman has been sent to hunt Pax down but what he finds is far more than what he expected. Now he's faced with the possibility of losing the one man he was hired to bring in.

They're both quickly running out of time, and the odds aren't in their favor. But Pax will do anything to keep Zane in his life...

Paxton's Winter is a story rich in details and history. Pax and Zane are two very different men at first glance, but the more they're together, the clearer it becomes just how perfect they are for one other.

After the death of his former lover, Pax locked his heart firmly away and that proves difficult to keep up when Zane steps into his life. Zane slowly, patiently works his way into Pax's heart, though and when it comes down to it, Pax will do everything he can to hold onto Zane.

I was happy to see the love scenes are brilliantly done for the time period. They're not purple prose, but they aren't highly explicit. They hit a wonderful medium that keeps up the heat while remaining true to the overall tone.

There were tense moments, and times when the heartbreak (especially Pax's) shone through clear. But in the end, it's all worth the ride just to see them get the best ending possible.

I've become quite a fan of T. D. McKinney's, and I would love to see more historicals like Paxton's Winter.

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