Title: Bounty of the Heart
Author: J.M. Snyder
Publisher: JMS Books LLC
Pages: 55 (.pdf)
Characters: Emmett Ward, Jack Robison
POV: 3rd Person
For seven years, Emmett Ward has harbored amorous feelings toward his partner, Jack Robison. A chance encounter brought them together—Emmett slaved in an illegal warehouse run by a Korean criminal known as the Dragon Lady, when Jack, a notorious bounty hunter with his sights set on her son Lin Ji, was captured. Emmett helped Jack escape in return for his own freedom. They’ve been together ever since, but Emmett aches for so much more than their platonic partnership.
A new bounty has been placed on Lin Ji’s head, sending Emmett and Jack to the wilds of Alaska, where they hope to take out the crime lord during an annual dog-sled race. As they near their target, they run into Monty Becker, another hunter Jack used to know. He takes an interest in Emmett, who is drawn to the sexy, charismatic fellow despite Jack’s warnings.
Emmett is torn between the two men—Monty is more than willing to show him what he’s missing, but Jack is what his heart wants. When the three team up to take out Lin, Emmett learns more of the past Jack and Monty share, and discovers just why his partner has ignored his obvious feelings for so long.
Set against the backdrop of the rugged Alaskan wilderness, Bounty of the Heart tells the story of Emmett Ward, a young man who, at the age of twelve, was captured at sea and forced into slavery by the notorious Dragon Lady. Shackled in a cold, dark, and foul warehouse, Emmett was forced to labor for Kim Ji, processing illegal cargo in the woman’s profitable racketeering empire. For three long years, the boy suffered under the most horrific of conditions until one day, he found hope and the means to escape his imprisonment.
Bounty hunting legend, Jack Robison, has a well earned reputation for being one of the best in the business, but a bitter betrayal by his former partner, Monty Becker, left Jack entirely vulnerable to the Dragon Lady. Jack was captured while on a job and dragged to the warehouse where Emmett was being held, where he was beaten nearly to death, left lying in a pool of his own blood. It was at that moment, while Emmett was doing his best to put Jack back together again, an act for which Emmett would suffer the whip, that life for the boy would take a turn for the better.
Seven years after escaping the Dragon Lady’s clutches, Jack and Emmett are partners, successful in their own right, hunting criminals for profit, as long as the price is right. Another chance at Lin Ji, Kim Ji’s son, comes with nothing more than a note with the man’s name on it and the coordinates to Aliak, Alaska, where this journey begins and ends with a fair amount of intrigue, suspense, and action in between.
Bounty of the Heart is told from Emmett’s point of view, so the reader quickly learns of his true feelings for his partner. Jack is a harsh and cold man who has kept himself at a distance, never allowing Emmett to get too close to him, never allowing himself to get too close to Emmett. The young man’s feelings for Jack run well beyond their platonic partnership; Emmett loves the older man and wants nothing more than to be able to show Jack how he truly feels, but Emmett is pushed away, both physically and emotionally, time and time again missing the opportunity to break through Jack’s defenses.
Emmett’s heart belongs to Jack, completely, but his body is starving, hungry for the attention he’s been deprived of by the man he loves. When the betraying snake Monty Becker comes crawling out of Jack’s past to insinuate himself between Jack and Emmett, Emmett is presented with the ultimate temptation, helplessly drawn to the physical attention Monty is so willing to give, even though Jack warns Emmett the man can’t be trusted. Jack should know, and Emmett quickly learns the truth that has kept Jack isolated and aloof all those years.
Tensions run high as the three men agree to team up and split the bounty on Lin Ji, against Jack’s better judgment. When their best laid plans go terribly wrong, Jack is faced with the very real possibility of losing the one person he’s spent the past seven years trying his hardest to push away. He quickly learns that losing Emmett is too high a price to pay for allowing the past to jeopardize his chance at happiness.
Bounty of the Heart is a subtly romantic story. Emmett’s innocence and devotion to Jack lend a sweet counterpoint to Jack’s abrasive demeanor and Monty’s slick and deceptive nature. This is definitely one of those stories that I’d have loved to have seen go a little deeper into the backstories of each of the characters. As it is, though, the reader is given just enough to satisfy the longing for Jack to finally open his eyes to the gift Emmett offers so freely.
Reviewed By: Lisa