Candy Moulton: Reading the West 5-6-13
Marie Owen, fearful of being an Old Maid Spinster at age 18, forces her father’s hand and in this 1870s era story set in the Colorado mountains, he sets in motion a plan to have her wed a young man from a family that had come west like the Owen clan.
To make the marriage arrangements Marie accompanies her father and brothers as they take a small bunch of steers down country to trade for a later wheat harvest. The trip is tiring and tests Marie’s mettle as she rides astride but learns to handle the cattle. At the home of her intended bridegroom, Marie realizes that perhaps she was a bit too hasty.
But the wheels are already turning and this story moves along at a fast pace as the Owens prepare for a barn raising and events that will lead to the announcement of Marie’s intended marriage.
Cowboy Bill Henry has been working for Rod Owen ever since bringing a herd of cattle north from Texas and he has a come to admire Miss Marie, but like many a tongue-tied cowboy, he can’t find a way to tell her, or her pa how he feels. Instead he does his cowboy work, helps with logging operations for the new barn the family will build, and takes advantage of opportunities to hone his poker skills.
When all the neighbors, including Marie’s intended bridegroom arrive at the Owen homestead for the barn raising the story swings into high gear. In rapid succession Marie realizes she would rather head out with a stranger than marry the man her father has chosen.
Her defiance sets her off on a path she never quite expected and it will take all her grit and determination to find her path.
This is a traditional story, well told, and fast-paced. It is the fourth book in the Owen Family Saga and is easily followed even if you have not read the earlier books. But a better suggestion may be to pick up the full series and start at the beginning with “The Man From Shenandoah,” then “Ride to Raton and Trail of Storms,” which will introduce the rest of the Owen family taking them from Civil War Virginia to their home in Colorado. ❖
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