Outlaws are defeated and cowboys find true love in this third book in Spalsbury’s (The Hunted Return, 2012, etc.) Western series.
Spalsbury returns to 19th-century Montana for this story of classic Old West adventure with a dash of romance. Kay Cannon is on her way from New York to Montana as a mail-order bride for a cowboy named Sinful when she realizes two men are after her, looking to steal something they believe she possesses. She makes her way across the country, evading her pursuers, and lands in the company of Sinful’s colleague Doc Whitfield, just back from studying medicine in France. Whitfield saves Kay from the men chasing her—and from a number of other outlaws as well—and delivers her safely to Elk Forks, Montana, where she settles in among the characters who populate the town. When Kay is kidnapped by her pursuers, Doc, Sinful, Red, Big John and the sheriff ride through the mountains to save her. The strong cast of supporting characters, from gambler and revenge-seeker Mary Beth to Mrs. Bale—housekeeper, sharpshooter, and honorary grandmother—keeps the story vibrant, while the many plot threads eventually come together in a satisfying resolution. The long rides, gun-toting dames, quick draws and scruffy miners are all stock elements of Western fiction, but Spalsbury succeeds in blending them into a more modern portrait of the familiar tropes. These tough cowboys aren’t afraid to show their tears, for instance, and several members of the Blackfoot tribe also act as supporting characters. Although stereotypes occasionally arise, the author manages a balanced, honest approach to a violent period in American history. Readers unfamiliar with the previous books in the series may find themselves lost at times, but on the whole, Spalsbury is effective at bringing in the necessary back story without overwhelming the reader.
A lighthearted, engaging novel that fits squarely into the tradition of Westerns yet finds its own path to a more modern audience.