This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Pioneering Press
Released on April 24, 2016
In my quest to try new western historicals, I decided to try a new to me author and a book with an intriguing blurb. One man straddling two diverse civilizations and trying to keep the peace sounded intense and engaging. It was. I loved the hero Cheyenne Joe Shay. He had to face a great deal of hardship and I was rooting him on to make it through and get the girl.
The story opens with Joe Shay stopping an uneasy mob from running out of town and slaughtering all Cheyenne in sight when a victim of a nearby massacre makes it to town gasping on his last breath about an attack that killed a bunch of settlers.
Joe knows the lid is about ready to blow off the region if the overdue government bounty money that was promised to the Cheyenne when they agreed to live peaceful on the reservation doesn’t show up. The Cheyenne are in dire straights not being able to roam after their main source of sustenance, the buffalo so they need the funds to trade for meat and other goods to get through.
When Joe goes to track down the tardy bounty money and the indian agent coming with it, he comes across the agent and a few army guards that make Joe uneasy about leaving the bounty in their hands, but he has a war to prevent so he needs to get to the Cheyenne and round up the ones who raided the white settlement. On his way, he encounters a vicious group of whites that attacked and are torturing a few survivors of an innocent Cheyenne band. One is Blue Flower, the beautiful maiden that Joe has secretly admired when he was living with her people. Joe’s rescue doesn’t alter Blue Flower’s opinion of the white man.
The Cheyenne, riled up by warmonger White Fox and his band, are done listening even to Joe because he doesn’t have the bounty on him as promised and they learn of the attack on Blue Flower’s family, but the whites are just as venge-seeking after the Cheyenne raiding. And while Joe was away, the bounty disappeared. Now there’s war on the plains and Joe is the target of men from both sides who wish to shut him up. But he needs to stay alive if peace is to be found and if he wants to convince Blue Flower that the color of his skin does not make him unworthy to be her man.
Alright. There was a lot going on in this one and it jumped right in with both feet. It’s actually a little bit of everything though the western element is the most predominant. There is a mystery surrounding the bounty money though that’s easy to figure out, but not so easy for Joe to prove the truth. There is the attention to the historical setting and changing times with the Cheyenne fighting the death of their way of life and others taking advantage of the situation to get all that they can get.
But for me, the character of Joe was probably the biggest draw. Joe straddles two worlds. He is white in his ancestry, but he is more attune to the Cheyenne ways. He takes guff from both sides who are happy when he does what they want, but quick to accuse him of being against them when they think he is favoring one side over the other. Then circumstances are against him. Other’s actions brings his honor into question and looks to lose him the chance with the woman he loves and there are also some who are actively trying to destroy Joe for their own greedy reasons. Yes, he was key and since he was the narrator, it was good that his presence was powerful.
The secondary characters are a solid group of both frontier townsfolk, Cheyenne, and army. Some are friends, but many are villains. Joe gives them the benefit of the doubt a lot more than I did, but he also didn’t hesitate if he needed to take a hard line on something like when the teamster was truculent and trying to stir up the townspeople to go burning and pillaging just so the guy could look important and then tried to bully Joe when Joe took the steam out of the group with his careful words.
Now, I truly enjoyed the story, but I do want to point out that there is a lot of passive voice so that the story is harder to engage with and feel connected at times. One of those times is the long brutal retreat of the whites when the Cheyenne go on the warpath. I was actually okay with not having a front row seat for torture and slaughter and warring, but it definitely felt as if it was happening at a distance and the whole section was a transition to get me from point A to point B.
So, all in all, this was a good outing with a new to me author and I’ll come back for more. I can recommend this for a Western historical fan who doesn’t mind a touch of mystery and a whiff of romance.
My thanks to Pioneering Press for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Romance Roundabout #187 HR
New to Me #74