Blaze! is a newish adult western series created by Stephen Mertz and published by Rough Edges Press. It is “newish” because there are now nine in the series, and the first, Blaze!, was published all the way back in January 2015. It features the husband and wife bounty hunter team J. D.—don’t ever call him Jehoram Delfonso—and Kate Blaze. The ninth and most recent entry in the series is Blaze!: A Son of the Gun written by Stephen Mertz.
The Ludlow brothers are wanted men with a Pinkerton reward attached. J. D. and Kate track the three outlaws to a deserted Arizona ranch the men are using as a hideout. The capture turns quickly to violence and the bounty claim becomes dead, rather than alive. It happens fast, but not easily. J. D. is rescued from an ambush by a young man named Joe Bridge who is running, with a young woman, from his former employer and his girl’s stepfather; a trio of gunnies in their wake. J. D. and Kate help the couple escape with no expectation of anything other than collecting their bounty in nearby Whiskey Bend and riding on. But they get caught up in a shootout in the dusty town and things only worsen from there.
Blaze!: A Son of the Gun is pure pulp joy. It is something like a 1960’s television western mixed with an Ace Double. Its plot is simple, linear and well executed. There is action on nearly every page with absolutely no doubt about who the good guys are and the bad. There is a low level, one or two scenes, of less than PG-13 married sex, which is where the “adult” part plays in, and, if I were to make a wager, I would bet Kate is tougher than J. D.