I did wonder what Sarah McCarty would do to continue to engage her readers through the last books in the Hell's Eight series as the big connecting mystery (Desi's missing sister) was resolved with Tracker (#4) and the most angst ridden of the men, Shadow (#5), already had his own book. The answer, unfortunately, is...not much.
Caden, along with the last two members of the group, have been fleeting characters in the prior books, always MIA during some of the pivotal moments so readers never really had an opportunity to connect with them (at least I never did). As a result, this book should have built Caden's background, personality, and motivations. Except what we are given is a paragraph that is supposed to explain the entirety of the book (his father had been someone who sought his own fortune).
It's a book that hints at past events that influence his treatment of the heroine, but never dips deep. There's one brief scene where the heroine is disappointed in something the hero did and it reminds him of his mother and her relationship with his father, but McCarty does not elaborate further. It's the first instance (though the event occurs pretty late in the book) where readers are introduced to the idea that his parents did not have a happy marriage, but you are left wondering why.
The hero's motivation throughout the book is to re-open Fei's (heroine from #5) mine, but you do not know why he wants to do so. Is it for the money? To help out a friend? Just something to do? It's very confusing, and often felt like McCarty just wanted to stick the characters in the middle of hostile Native American territory for the "danger and conflict" part of the story.
The heroine is a complex character. She is someone who has been physically and mentally abused from a very young age and retreats into her mind when things are difficult. I do not remember her, but she is apparently from a prior book, someone Tracker found during his searches for Ari. She is at the very tail end of her mental struggles, where reality starts to overtake any desires to hide away, and draws your sympathy as you watch her try to meld her past with her present; all without the help of a psychiatrist.
The "conflict" should have been focused on emotions as McCarty created two characters suited for that type of story, but sadly she threw in a "save me from the bad guy" scene at the end that was not needed and frankly lessened the impact of the heroine finally conquering her demons.
A mediocre story in what otherwise was one of the more engaging series available in romance. It leaves me leery of what disappointments will be given to us in the last two books.