I just finished my first western! I’m pleased to say that I did enjoy this little novel – it was less than 200 pages, but I liked it.
Conn Dury saved Kate Lundy and her brother Tom from an Apache raid years ago. Together, the three of them built their own little town, Tumbling B, and started gathering and branding cattle. After a long and rough cattle drive, them and their men come to a town where the rules are clear; men from the cattle drives must not cross over to the north side of town. While the town enjoy the money that the cattle herders spent in their town, they looked down on them and didn’t want them to mingle with the people of higher status. But young Tom sets his eyes and heart on the daughter of one of the most powerful men in town – when he crosses the line to see her one night, he dies. Kate vows revenge on the town, and sets up a plan to destroy it. And Conn will help protect her, and avenge her brother in any way he can.
The story takes place from the perspective of Conn, and it gets interesting fast. Conn and Tom where close, and he can’t believe that Tom gets killed just for talking to a girl. As the story progresses and Conn struggles to protect his group of people, we also learn his back story which proves just as interesting as the present events, and ties into the present situation. Conn is the great honorable cowboy type, and he has great affection for Kate. And speaking of Kate – I’m so glad she wasn’t one of those flightly, wussy women. She was totally smart, tough, and determined.
There are a couple great things that I liked about the book. One was the simple style of writing – I’ve read “western” historical romances novels that were frustrating because the author focused too much on trying to use Southern dialect and slang. The prose here was simple and clear – it definitely evoked the feel of a western story, without bogging it down or making it distracting. I also really enjoy the whole make-your-own-way, the-law-is-your-gun atmosphere, and I hope that’s how most of L’Amour’s other novels are. (I probably like it so much because that’s the type of lifestyle in Firefly, a space-cowboy type of show that I love.)
One thing I worried about going into the book was how much Native American hating was I was going to read about. I’ve read some Native American historical fiction before, so I’m used to being on the side of the Indians, not the cowboys. Luckily, this wasn’t an issue here. L’Amour wrote about the Apache, Comanche, and Kiowa as being dangerous and posing a treat, but he didn’t get all racist about it. In fact, the bad guys are the white townspeople who look down on those Texan cattle herders. I’m sure that Native Americans are bound to be the enemy in some of L’Amour’s other novels – I think I saw that he’s written over 100 books, so I’m sure that plotline comes up somewhere. But I’m glad that the first one I tried wasn’t like that.
Anyways, I’m excited to have ventured into a genre I previously have never tried. Thank you to Jess at Tangled Up In Blue, for reviewing this book and gushing about how great it was! I’m glad I tried it, and I’m looking forward to trying more. There was something kind of peaceful about reading this book, even with all the action and danger – I was in a pretty happy, easy-going mood the whole time I read this book. And I’m going to start keeping an eye out for Mr. L’amour’s novels when I’m at used bookstores 🙂
Sarah Says: 3.5 stars