Book Reviews

The Man Who Loved Cole Flores (Dig Two Graves 1) by K.A. Merikan at Acerbi & Villani

Genre Bisexual / Historical / 19th Century / Western / Cowboys / Romance / Drama
Reviewed by Lena Grey on 30-March-2021

Book Blurb

You want revenge? Dig two graves.

Ten years ago, a vicious gang called the Gotham Boys descended on a homestead in the mountains like a pack of wolves, leaving nothing behind but death and destruction.

Ned O’Leary was the only one to survive the ordeal.

He lost hope for revenge long ago, but its flame erupts in his heart when the gang is spotted again. By a stroke of luck, he is recruited to infiltrate the Gotham Boys and bring them all to justice. Ripped out of his wholesome life on a ranch, he has to find his footing with a band of ruthless outlaws who challenge his morals every step of the way

But the one who tests him most of all is Cole Flores. Deadly, full of himself and unpredictable, the gang leader’s adopted son should be a man easy to hate, but instead, he sparks illicit desires Ned has never felt before.

Cole Flores is forbidden.
Cole Flores is corruption.
Cole Flores is everything Ned O’Leary craves.

Torn between love and revenge, lust and loyalty, Ned has to face impossible choices that are bound to leave scars, no matter how hard he tries to do the right thing.


“I don’t know what this means, or how to do this with you,” he whispered as his heart broke into a gallop. “But I want to. I need to.”


WARNING: This story contains scenes of violence, offensive language and morally ambiguous characters as well as sensitive topics of child abuse and suicide


Book Review

“In each of us, two natures are at war – the good and the evil. All our lives the fight goes on between them, and one of them must conquer. But in our own hands lies the power to choose – what we want most to be we are.” ~ Robert Louis Stevenson


Ned O’Leary is grateful to his aunt and uncle for taking him in after his parents died. But even though they gave him the basics such as food and clothing, it was clear that they did not hold him in the same regard as his cousins. When one of his girl cousins started making eyes at Ned, his uncle asked him to leave. Since working on the far was the only thing Ned had ever done, he had no idea where to go or what to do now. He has no idea how much his life is about to change when he meets a dark, handsome stranger named Cole Flores.


After receiving his uncle’s ultimatum, Ned goes into town. He gets into a card game, one he can’t afford to lose. He will need all the money he has since he will soon be without a home. As he is playing, Cole walks in, dressed in all black. There is a strong, almost visceral attraction between the two men. Ned has never felt anything like it. It’s almost as if they understand what each other is saying without speaking. Through this newfound communication, Cole helps him cheat at cards. When Ned wins, all hell breaks loose when the wife of one of the card players accuses Ned of cheating. A brawl starts. As it so happens, Cole isn’t alone. There are two other men with him and they spring into action, shooting up the place and wounding one of the men. They need to get out of there. Ned helps the other men escape. Nate figures that he will never see the men again, although he wouldn’t mind seeing Cole another time. It is not until the sheriff questions Ned that he learns who the mysterious men are: The Gotham Gang, the men responsible for Ned’s parents’ death.


When Ned arrives back at the ranch, there are two gentlemen waiting for him from the Pinkerton Detective Agency. Not having any other idea why they would be there to see him, Ned asks him if they are there about the Gotham Boys. They tell him yes and start to explain who the gang is and what they do. Ned tells them about how they murdered his father and violated his mother. Ned declares how much he would love to get revenge on them and asks what he can do to help. The detectives explain that they want Ned to go undercover, infiltrate the gang in order to learn as much as possible about them. Ned readily agrees. While having their conversation, they hear harmonica music. The detectives recognize it and, immediately, they know that it is coming from Cole Flores and he has come looking for Ned. It seems that Fate has handed Ned an opportunity for vengeance on a platter much sooner than he could have dreamed of. Is he up to the challenge? Regardless of the consequences, is Ned strong or determined enough to do what has to be done to bring these evil men to justice? Only time will tell.


This story was kind of like watching a train wreck about to happen, but I was unable to turn away. Life with the gang was much worse than Ned could imagine yet he was able to keep his wits about him and survive. Cole was the biggest challenge; this confusing contradiction of a man, cruel one moment and tender the next. Ned didn’t know how to take him especially when he showed Ned what he was missing. The last person Ned would have expected to be attracted to was Cole, but when Cole came on to him, Ned burned with a fire that he didn’t even know he was capable of. Their struggle to come to terms with this passion, along with the emotions that were also kindled, was visceral, tender, compassionate, and brutal all at the same time. It was an awe-inspiring story, reminding me that none of us are all good or all bad. Thanks, K.A., I can hardly wait for the next book to see how their story ends.





DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been purchased by the reviewer.


Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 155000 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 10-February-2021
Price $5.99 ebook, $14.99 paperback
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