Rating: 4 stars
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When Virgil is forced to run for his life, he escapes to the badlands in Oklahoma. Fleeing from his forbidden desires and false accusations, Virgil hopes only to live to see the next day. But the intense heat and the lack of nourishment wreak havoc on Virgil and his beloved horse, Strawberry. Running to the point of exhaustion, Virgil and Strawberry collapse on a desert road. Virgil’s last thought for his horse.
Half Apache and half white man, Asa has learned to live on the outskirts of both civilizations. He makes a quiet living as a blacksmith. When Asa discovers the young man and his horse on the side of the road, he has no choice but to try and nurse the man and animal back to health. As the young man recovers, Asa sees something in Virgil that he hopes he recognizes as his soul match.
Fighting his attraction to the big man, Virgil stumbles upon a private moment between Asa and two of his friends that changes his view of Asa. No longer fighting what he feels, Virgil agrees to a series of intimate lessons taught to him by Asa, along with a new meaning of love. But while Virgil finds a level of safety and security in his new life with Asa, he still has to work through his doubts when it comes to his desires, all the while looking over his shoulder fearing the Rangers may still be coming for him.
Hammer and Tongs is the first book I’ve read by B.A. Tortuga, and I liked it. I’ll be honest, and it’s no secret, that historical stories are not always my thing, but I really enjoyed this one. It took me back to my old western, John Wayne mind set. I didn’t know what to expect when I opened this book, but I was pleasantly surprised and I’m hoping that there may be more for Virgil and Asa in the future.
So as far as storytelling goes, this author does a pretty great job of it, from using southern, grammatically incorrect speech of that time period to incorporating the beliefs of the Native American people, as well as the bigoted beliefs of that time. But it’s the storyline that focuses on Asa and Virgil’s relationship that is the main attraction of this book. It’s sweet and timid and exciting. I truly liked the story most of all for the beauty that the author portrays through their love.
The characters are precious. Virgil is the shy, confused, scared virgin. And Asa is the strong, confident, self-assured voice of experience. Together they make a beautiful couple, both learning lessons from one another. If you’ve read any of my reviews, you know my soft spot for interracial relationships, and this one is a beauty. They are a precious couple.
Most of all, I love the Apache culture/beliefs shown in this story. It’s a beautiful and scary culture. I’m fascinated by the subjects of “spirit brothers” and “soul lovers.” It’s truly an amazing culture briefly outlined by Tortuga. And I want more.
I think my biggest quibble with this story with the Virgil/posse storyline. It’s never concluded. Are the Rangers still after him? What about the man that showed up at the forge? There were just too many questions remaining in that storyline for me to look past it.
Overall, I enjoyed Hammer and Tongs by B.A. Tortuga. It did have at least one noticeable flaw but the flaw obviously wasn’t big enough to make me dislike the story. I love the old west feel of the book. The characters are wonderful. And the romance is beautiful. I’m crossing my fingers that somewhere down the road this author will add to Virgil and Asa’s story. Recommended.