Retribution Rails by Erin Bowman (Vengeance Road #2)
Publisher: HMH Books For Young Readers
Release Date: November 7, 2017
Summary: REDEMPTION IS NEVER FREE
When Reece Murphy is forcibly dragged into the Rose Riders gang because of a mysterious gold coin in his possession, he vows to find the man who gave him the piece and turn him over to the gang in exchange for freedom. Never does he expect a lead to come from an aspiring female journalist. But when Reece’s path crosses with Charlotte Vaughn after a botched train robbery and she mentions a promising rumor about a gunslinger from Prescott, it becomes apparent that she will be his ticket to freedom—or a noose. As the two manipulate each other for their own ends, past secrets are unearthed, reviving a decade-old quest for revenge that may be impossible to settle.
My Thoughts: Retribution Rails takes readers back into the world of Vengeance Road! Set 10 years later, we follow an outlaw and an aspiring journalist as the unlikely duo team up to bring down the infamous Rose Riders!
Honestly, I’d never really read westerns until Vengeance Road (back in 2015), but since reading it I found I really enjoyed them and can always expect tons of action and adventure. When I finished Vengeance Road, I’d always felt there was much more to tell from this era of the wild west. With Retribution Rails, I was so happy to be able to return to this world again & with new characters!
Following the POV of Reece Murphy and Charlotte Vaughn, they find themselves crossing paths and joining forces to bring down a dangerous gang, which Reece himself is a part of.
When a train robbery led by the Rose Riders goes wrong, Reece not only crosses paths with aspiring journalist Charlotte, but sees it as the perfect opportunity to escape.
But knowing he’s still tied to the Rose Riders, he follows a hunch that could finally earn him his freedom.
Reece was definitely my favorite character! From the moment he is introduced you can see the guilt and anger he feels as a member of the Rose Riders. Being forced to ride with them ever since they killed his loved ones, he can’t help but also feel obligated towards them, especially the leader Luther (having no one else by his side). However, its clear he wants to regain his life and no longer be known as the “Rose Kid” but Reece. So when he gets a tip on where the infamous cowboy is (the one who gave Reece a gold coin that got him caught up with the Rose Riders in the first place), he wastes no time following the lead & tracking him down!
Charlotte is determined to break her way into the world of journalism with her story on the unveiling of a new railroad. However, with her uncle rumored to be taking over her family’s fortune left behind by her late father, she knows this story will allow her to support herself and her mother, allowing them a way out. She soon finds herself caught up with Reece and the Rose Riders as she sets out for a new story. When she finds herself with no one else but Reece, she is left unsure whether she can trust this “dangerous” member of the Rose Riders who claims he’s ready to be free of the gang once and for all.
What I loved about Retribution Rails so much was how plot-driven the story was and how unique Charlotte & Reece were. I just adored them both so much and really felt they came alive, through their own engaging voice. Written through 1st person POV, we follow them as their paths cross and learn what they are willing to do for their freedom.
~It was also great to see diversity within this novel, with Reece being biracial (half Mexican).
Over the course of Retribution Rails, you really become connected to the characters and I loved the dynamic between Reece & Charlotte! What made their relationship so well done was the development that builds from them not really trusting each other to slowly relying on one another and having that trust gradually form, even well towards the end! I just loved their relationship so much & loved how there was practically no romance, but you could definitely see their connection!
It was great to see cameos from Vengeance Road & have them be such an integral part of the story as it progresses, but overall Retribution Rails really stands on its own!
The writing delivers so much to the characters & plot, you really feel immersed into this era of the wild west. From the setting to the integral development of railroads and strives of journalism, the writing makes these aspects such huge parts of the story which really bring it to life! The main characters, Charlotte & Reece especially, just come alive and you really understand them by the end of this novel.
While the plot was so engaging, I couldn’t help but feel the pacing to be pretty slow towards the middle and found the plot started to drag just a bit! I also felt some side characters could have had more development. Additionally, while the ending really builds to a great conclusion I did find it felt somewhat rushed and just wanted more from Reece & Charlotte <3!
Character-driven and immersive, Retribution Rails is a fantastic addition and conclusion to Vengeance Road!While it does have cameos and builds off some of the events of Vengeance Road, its a unique tale that really stands on its own. The wild west will come alive as you follow Charlotte & Reece on their adventures to bring down the Rose Riders as they also attempt to gain their own freedom!