In a world where safety is a luxury and honor is found only among outlaws, two people attempt to outrun dangers lurking around each corner and the tragedies that define them.
Bonnie is an outlaw on the run. Beautiful but dangerous; her dark past stalks her like the crater beasts that roam the desert. As the notoriously cruel outlaw Jones sends his henchmen to track her down and retrieve the gun she stole from him, Bonnie hopes she can stay one step ahead. Because if he catches her, a fate worse than death awaits.
Jesse always dreamed of leaving the farm to explore the ruins of the big cities he’d heard about his whole life. He just never imagined he’d be forced to flee after strange men burned down his rural mountain town and murdered everyone he loved. Responsible for his kid brother and searching for an uncle he’s never met before, he isn’t sure he can navigate the perils of life among con artists and thieves long enough to find him.
Their two paths collide as they find themselves thrown together on the adventure of a lifetime.
Together, they may just discover that life is about more than just surviving.
This book takes place in the future, after nuclear war has just messed everything right up. America has fallen into a Wild West-esque place, and the characters are named Bonnie and Jesse, and it has everything you'd ever want from a western, but also it's a sci-fi dystopian with radiation monsters. It's so creative and unique!
Secondly, the romance and sexual tension in this book, gawd. The cover might be badass and give the impression of a dark and gritty novel (which, let's be honest, G&S is totally badass, dark, and gritty) but it's also surprisingly tender. Bonnie and Jesse's meet-cute is anything but cute (with the exception of Harry, he is hella cute and just a beacon of sunshine for me), but it's intense and poignant and sets the stage for their tumultuous relationship. It is a slowest of burns, but I enjoyed every second of scorching fire.
So we've got ourselves a post-apocalyptic dystopian western romance, which is unique in itself, and then it's populated with amazing characters and tense action and an unforgettable story. 10/10 recommend, you need to buy this book.
Genre: Dystopian Western Romance Read If You Love: Adventure, Road Trips, and Found Family
First of all, if “Dystopian Western Romance” isn’t an official genre yet, it should be because it’s my favorite. 😍
Guns & Smoke takes place in the United States after “The Culling” has toppled civilization, ravaged its natural resources, and created terrifying radiation-altered crater monsters. The remaining population in the deserts of the Southwest US have reverted back to the Wild West way of living. It’s here that we find Bonnie - a wanted outlaw on the run from a ruthless gang leader - and Jesse - a boy from Montana traveling with his kid brother to find their uncle. Bonnie and Jesse join forces (hesitantly) to make it through the desert to their destination - running cons while trying to stay one step ahead of Jones and his gang.
I really loved all the characters in this book. Bonnie and Jesse where so complex, both running from heartbreaking pasts while just trying to survive. Bonnie’s character development is exceptional, and I loved how she learned to embrace her newfound family and love so fiercely. The tension between Bonnie and Jesse was palpable, and the back-and-forth between them was SO frustrating, but it’s all worth it, trust me. But even more than the romance, I loved Bonnie’s relationship with The Kid. The world-building in Guns & Smoke is so well done, and the writing was vivid and descriptive and just wonderful.
I don’t want to post spoilers, but in the last few chapters of the book, shit really hit the fan. A lot of things about Bonnie and Jesse’s parents’ lives are brought to light, and I loved how everything came together. There are still a lot of unanswered questions, and of course that amazing cliffhanger. As soon as I finished Guns & Smoke, I wanted MORE. I sincerely can’t want wait to see what’s next for Bonnie and Jesse! 🤩
*I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Bonnie is an outlaw and on the run from Jones, who is a dangerous man. Bonnie stole his gun, and he wants it back. Jones has sent his men after Bonnie to retrieve the gun she stole from him. But Bonnie has no intentions of ever returning. A faith worse than death is awaiting her if she ever returns to Jones. She needs to stay one step ahead of him if she wants to survive.
Jesse and his little brother are on their way to New Mexico looking for an uncle they have never met when they meet up with Bonnie. Men came to their village and burned it down. Jesse lost his parents on that horrific day.
When Bonnie and Jesse meet up, she knows right away that Jesse and his brother will never make it to their uncles on their own, so she decides to tag along on their journey so she can be sure they get there without dying.
Bonnie and Jesse hook up a lot on their journey, but Bonnie has a hard time dealing with feelings. Bonnie doesn't think that there is anything more between her and Jesse other than them hooking up on occasion. She has no confidence in herself or others. I do think Jesse wants more. But Bonnie has trust issues and a few secrets from her past that she has brought forth into her future that keep her heart locked uptight.
Guns & Smoke has plenty of action to keep the pages smoking hot from beginning to end. Guns & Smoke was written so well I could see every scene playing out in my mind as if I was standing right there beside Bonnie, Jesse, and Harry. There were a few twists that took me by surprise. I loved seeing the adventures that Bonnie, Jesse, and Harry experienced on their journey.
I liked Guns & Smoke so well that I am looking forward to the next book in The Fool's Adventure Series. I would like to see where their journey takes them next.
I would recommend Guns & Smoke to anyone who likes dystopian stories with a western setting. One-click your copy of Guns & Smoke today for a great adventure story!
Sevier and Smith have written a dystopian western romance set after "The Culling" has ravaged the United States. You have two unlikely characters that come together to survivie the dessert while battling their own inner traumas and demons. Bonnie is an outlaw and con woman hardened by being raised by a gang. She is a wanted woman being hunted by the cruel man who raised her. Jesse is a wide-eyed farm boy from Montanna who's world was turned upside down by tragedy and both he and his younger brother are haunted by fire. They were sent on a wild goose chase to find a distant uncle they never knew, because their parents had secrets.
After trying to con Jesse, Bonnie teams up with Jesse and Harry "The Kid" as they venture into the dessert and outside of the ruins of Las Vegas where the gangs look for Bonnie. Bonnie agrees to become their guide. Bonnie has rules. No one gets close to her, but Jesse keeps worming his way in little by little. These two have a flaming desire for one another, but they keep getting interrupted, whether its by other outlaws, slavers in the desert, Jesse's kid brother Harry, or their own tempers getting the better of them. I found myself wanting to slap both of them out of frustration at several points.
If you like a slower burn romance where there is a push and pull between the characters fighting their feelings for one another, then you've found it. Despite both Jesse and Bonnie's attraction they keep trying to fight off their urges.
Thematically this book is more approrpaite for a new adult audience, not just because the characters clearly want to jump each other's bones, but also because as with dystopian natured books there are a lot of thematic elements that might be inapprorpiate for aduiences under 18. Bonnie and Jesse are both haunted by their pasts. Bonnie is also literally scarred by the cruelty of the gang she was raised by.
A fun post-apocalypse road trip adventure starring two people who are transcendentally horny for each other.
There is more will they, won't they (or rather when the fuck are they going to stop being interrupted so they CAN?!) than there is gun totin', score settlin' action and it's way more enjoyable when you accept that.
Bonnie, Jesse and The Kid are all really good characters who work their way through trauma with each other which is very sweet. The Culling as an event is really intriguing and I look forward to more crater beasts and Weird West oddities in the sequels. And the fact that our authors effortlessly show their survival research during desert trips is really impressive.
The sex/very nearly sex scenes are hot and really well written. I didn't think I'd enjoy genitals being called 'desire' but honestly it made for way better sounding description than 'he whipped his dick out' etc.
Things I didn't like as much: Characters' tongues are mentioned A LOT. And a lot of the conflict between Bonnie and Jesse is based on misunderstanding or just not talking to each other which was sometimes a little annoying. BUT I think the fact that I care enough to be annoyed really only speaks to how invested I was in the characters.
If you're looking for an erotic western romance with an apocalyptic twist you can't do better than Guns and Smoke.
This high-octane dystopian thriller from Lauren Sevier and A Smith takes readers on an exhilarating journey into a ruined world where survival is a deadly game.
When the beautiful and dangerous Bonnie crosses path with the impossibly handsome Jesse, she has no idea her life is going to change forever. Trying to escape the clutches of the ruthless outlaw Jones, Bonnie joins Jesse on his quest to find a long-lost family member. But their journey soon turns deadly, with the sinister enemy at their trail.
Bonnie and Jesse’s backstories, which highlight their trauma and grief for the things long-lost are infused beautifully in the narrative. In addition to providing readers with plenty of delicious, scorching-hot romance between the couple, the authors add shocking twists to the gripping plot and touches upon themes of slavery, physical, mental, and sexual abuse, trauma, perseverance, and familial bonds.
The twisty cliffhanger ending lays the groundwork for the next installment. The authors pull no punches in this action-packed tale of love, family, and honor.
I can only suspect there is a second book in the making with a cliffhanger ending like that. However, this book is absolutely fantastic. It has every part of an outlaw book you would want. A tremendous backstory of sorrow and trauma, makings of love and family, works from the past coming into the present.
A great, romping adventure in the new Old West! Chased by their pasts, the leads struggle to find themselves in the desert beyond ruined Lost Vegas. The push and pull between them keeps the story fresh. Book 2 is sure to be a wild ride!
Normally I don’t read westerns/dystopian type novels, but this book was gifted to me a friend and I wanted to give it a shot. I am so so glad I did!!
At first I thought the book was a little slow moving but I could not put the book down by the halfway point. The plot definitely amped up and I found myself unable to put the book down. I hope book 2 comes out soon!
Almost ten years ago, we began crafting The Fool's Adventure world. On a whim, we began writing the story of two young people both running away from their pasts that end up thrown together on a crazy adventure. It started out as a YA dystopian novel during the height of 2010s dystopia. I could not be more proud of Guns & Smoke as it is today. When we decided to revisit the story and revamp the genre and some of the plot, I fell in love with this world all over again.
Jesse James is a character that I hold near and dear to my heart. He and I are very similar: we believe in doing the right thing, we love with our whole hearts, and we find that life is about more than just surviving. Writing him has been a joy and a privelege. I have always really liked characters with hearts of gold that can be a little clueless at times, and Jesse is no different. He genuinely belives the best in people because of how he was raised. This naivety is what gets him in trouble at the beginning of Guns & Smoke.
What I hope is that you'll love Jesse and Bonnie as much as I do, and want to join them on future adventures.
The Fool's Adventure world is rich and full of endless opportunities. Guns & Smoke is the first of many glimpses into the world. We hope to bring you stories from before and after the Culling for many, many years to come.
Guns & Smoke is a fun and passionate tale that manages to drop the rugged wild west into a dystopian future. The story telling format, which alternates chapters being told from the first-person perspectives of the two main characters, offers a compelling opportunity to get to know them both intimately. One of my favorite things about the book is the authors' ability to develop the characters and explore both their views of events and their introspection and memories without slowing the story down at all. Once you start reading Guns & Smoke, you don't want to stop turning the pages.
It should be known that I had the extreme fortune and pleasure to be a beta reader, and arc reader for Guns & Smoke.
I loved this book! The descriptions are so vivid that it felt like I was watching a movie play out as I read it. I came to love the characters and wanted to join in on their fights for safety and answers. I cannot wait for the next book in the series to come out and to learn even more about this world that’s been created.
I know that this is the first book in a series, but sweet sufferin’ succotash does it spend a lot of time for little in return in terms of plot resolution!
I’m afraid I did not personally enjoy this book much. I am, however, rating it three stars, because I believe those interested in romance will find much to satisfy them, with much romantic sexy-time between the two heroes – one equipped with short shorts and the other equipped with a “deep canyon timbre” voice.
I came to this book primarily for the western and dystopian elements, and I’m afraid I was disappointed. The world-building seemed somewhat inconsistent and a bit hasty at times – there were, I thought, moral inconsistencies from the main characters which struck me as somewhat incompatible with the traditions of the western genre (although these could be a plus for those who dislike traditional western genre values) and a few times I built up expectations for follow-up consequences to the character’s actions which were disappointed. I found that the middle of the book was a bit of a slog, although it does pick up again towards the (inconclusive from all but the romantic plot view) ending. There were times I found the storytelling repetitive. It is very clear that a second book is expected in order for the adventure to continue.
There were some truly confounding developments in regards to the riding and use of stolen horses in this book. I did not understand some of the decisions of the characters at all at all. One of the minor characters defied all credibility, in my mind.
On a few occasions there were plot twists which were total surprises. Perhaps it should be noted that there is a fair amount of strong language and violence, some element may be disturbing to some readers.
There is fairly strong messaging here about the liberation of people’s bodies and their rights to use them as they wish and only as they wish, regardless of the gender, sexuality or anything else. Hard to argue with that. The two main characters – one man, one woman, who recount the story from their viewpoints alternating between chapters – each character written by one of the authors – are equal-strength partners in their romance. Which is good.
The advanced reader’s copy I was sent to read contained some typos, but I believe that corrections were underway and ongoing at the time of ARC distribution and the expected final release will see improvement on that front.
There was a scene in this book which was very very reminiscent of a famous western movie scene. The main characters are named after famous outlaws.
I understand from the author’s notes and interviews that this book is the result of a decade-long passion for the world and characters introduced here, and it’s a shame that at least for me, the introduction to their world wasn’t as polished clear as it perhaps could be, and the (non-romantic) plot was a bit wandering and not as engaging as it could have been.
However, to try and end on a positive note, there are flashes of an intriguing dystopian world here, and of complex, challenging characters. The romance is strong, and many of the intimate scenes between the two leads sizzle. I would certainly recommend this book to those who enjoy feminist romance. It just wasn’t strong enough of western-dystopian elements for me to thoroughly enjoy. As the series progresses, the world and plot building may well become clearer.
P.S. - To be 100% fair to the authors who were good enough to offer me an ARC, I was “warned” this book was a romance. Someone please hit me (metaphorically) up side the head the next time I agree to review a romance, I really shouldn’t review books in a genre that I have little affinity for. I’m sorry. I appreciated the opportunity to read this book, thank you, and I wish it success.
GUNS & SMOKE is the first instalment in the new adult post-apocalyptic THE FOOL’S ADVENTURE series co—authored by Lauren Sevier and Abbie Lynn Smith focusing on Jesse, Bonnie and Jesse’s ten year old, younger brother Harry aka The Kid.
WARNING: Due to the nature of the story line premise, there may be triggers for more sensitive readers.
SOME BACKGROUND: Years earlier, The United States entered into a post apocalyptic era in the aftermath of an event known as ‘the culling’, when ‘greedy, entitled men had access to nuclear bombs’. In the years that followed, what remained of the American people suffered at the hands of assassins and killers, gangs and thugs in a lawless society governed by no one.
Told from dual first person perspectives (Jesse and Bonnie) GUNS & SMOKE follows the cross country journey of Jesse, Bonnie and Jesse’s ten year old, younger brother Harry aka the Kid, a journey in search of Jesse’s sole remaining family in Roswell, New Mexico. Bonnie likes to play the ‘con’ and Jesse was going to be her next target but Bonnie never expected to come face to face with the man with whom she would fall in love, a young man who was desperate to find the only other family he knew anything about. With the help of our heroine, Jesse and Harry head off on a dangerous adventure where the past is always one step behind, a past that is determined to take back what doesn’t belong. As Bonnie battles between head and heart with her feelings towards our story line hero, Jesse struggles to convince Bonnie his world would be better with Bonnie in his life.
GUNS & SMOKE reads like a cross between ‘The Walking Dead’ (san the zombies) and the American Wild West. Cities and infrastructure no longer exist, encampments, towns and survivors are few and far between; food and water are a rare commodity, death and destruction, assassins and slavers are the way of the world. Few people remember a time before the culling, while those born after, know nothing about the time before.
Sevier and Smith take the reader onto a journey of what if: survival against the odds, against the elements, against humanity destroying itself. The premise is dark and gritty; the characters are desperate and determined. There is a romance and relationship developing between our leading couple, a relationship that will be sabotaged from outside and within. GUNS & SMOKE ends on a cliff-hanger, you have been warned
This is a fun adventure with gritty and sides to it. Westerns carry the potential for deep story telling and there’s a beginning to it here. I was intrigued to see where the characters’ choices would take them.
The descriptions are so vivid in this story. You could visualize the scenarios, smell the good, feel the ground under your feet. It created a sense of engagement that you always want in a story!
The characters are hit and miss. Some are very well developed but not very likable. Some are likable but could have used more development. I really enjoyed some but could not connect with some.
Overall, a solid start to a series. The author has potential and with some refinement would have a very engaging piece. I was intrigued enough to give a second book a try and still encourage you to give it a read and judge for yourself.
I received a free copy for beta read and am leaving this review voluntarily.
—>>> “So, which is it? Do I break your rules or am I an exception to them?” “Yes,” she breathed.
Jesse James travels from the devastating ruin of his farm on a mission to fulfill his mother’s last request, never realizing that his unsettling yen to explore the world beyond was going to come to fruition when he and his kid brother find himself conned by the riveting Bonnie. This world is gritty, backstabbing, and dry as the desert when it comes to kindness, but somehow Bonnie and Jessie end up on a journey which reveals themselves one layer at a time, a very slow-burner physically, but necessary as trust was very thin between these strangers to begin with.
This was a fascinatingly savage wild-west/dystopian setting, with both the main and secondary characters breathing real life into the the storyline and the fates which await them. Looking forward to what comes next in their adventures.
This is a book that kept me invested in the characters. I found myself wanting to know more about them; what their stories were individually. I did find myself yelling at Jesse and Bonnie "just F**K already!!"
I took off one star because I wish there was a bit more world building. The reader is just given hints of how this world is and left with a ton of questions - what the crater beasts are, where they came from, what the map actually looks like, etc. I hope this is addressed in the second book and can't wait to see how our outlaws are going to get out of the pickle they're left in by the end of this book!
I tried, but I don't feel comfortable leaving my thoughts let alone my 100% honest review. Every time, I had a thought I wanted to update with, I stopped because I felt like if I had anything less than pure love for anything, that one of the authors would want to argue how my thought or feeling was wrong, and try to sway me. Maybe it's a good book, maybe it's just as mediocre as the parts I read. It had the potential to get better, but I guess I'll never know.
It has been a great honor and privilege to have co-written this novel with my friend.
It has also been my privilege that has labeled me for the years of my formative life as the 'difficult' child. The girl who always spoke her mind even when it was decidedly out-of-turn. To be labeled a 'progressive' and through years of knocking my head against brick walls just to be heard, to have finally found my voice through my passion projects like Guns & Smoke.
I've had the honor to be surrounded by other such women, getting master degrees in four years (instead of five) or excelling in male-dominated fields blazing the way as an example to me of the true strength that comes with knowing who you are and what it is that you want.
It is these experiences and many more, that helped me to develop Bonnie's character. She is a woman unafraid to make mistakes and unapologetic for making them. The product of a broken world whose act of rebellion in itself is surviving it. I have described her many times as 'unlikeable' because she is brash, sarcastic, and sometimes cruel. But these qualities as well as the tenderness and vulnerability hiding within her are the exact reasons she is loveable.
I hope that Bonnie shows through the pages as a character that is just as deserving of love and happiness as any of us. Though bent, she is not by any stretch of the imagination, broken. Her fortitude and tenacity have inspired me in so many ways and I feel grateful to her character for allowing me to tell her story.
Guns & Smoke is special to me amongst writing projects due to her character, the influences that shaped her, and because I had the pleasure to tell this story with a dear friend. A. Smith made this process fun, heartbreaking, exhilarating, and life-changing. It is my hope, dear readers, that you will feel similarly as you read. Here is to many more books in the 'Fool's Adventure' series and more surprising and worthwhile characters to come.