Authors: William W. Johnstone with J.A. Johnstone
Publisher: Pinnacle Books, November 2011
Genre: Historical Fiction, Western U.S.
My Rating: C-
Summary (from the publisher):
It’s December 1890. A Texas rancher named Big Ben Conyers has a deal with Scottish-born, Wyoming cattleman named Duff MacAllister. Along with Smoke and Matt Jensen, the party bears down on Dodge, Kansas, to make a cattle drive back to Forth Worth. But before they can get out of Dodge, guns go off and a rich man’s son is killed. Soon the drive turns into a deadly pursuit, then a staggering series of clashes with bloodthirsty Indians and trigger-happy rustlers. And the worst is yet to come – the party rides into a devastating blizzard, a storm so fierce that their very survival is at stake. From America’s greatest Western author, here is an epic tale of the unforgiving American frontier and how, amidst fierce storms of man and nature, miracles can still happen.
That summary from the publisher above sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, that was only the last part of the novel. I’ll tell you right from the beginning – I was disappointed in this book. I love Texas, the 1890’s, and cowboy stories. Well, it was in Texas in the 1890s and featured ranchers, their families, and cowboys. But the way in which it was told wore me down.
There were so many characters spread out all the way from Texas to Wyoming. The first part of the story started out so well. I was getting caught up into the story of Rebecca and the mysterious Tom. Then the authors started introducing loads of new characters and places that it left me confused. I didn’t think it was necessary to go in depth with every single character. It was too distracting.
What I did like was the story of the introduction of black angus cattle to replace the traditional Texas longhorns. Likewise the reverse cattle drive from Dodge City to Fort Worth.
I picked this book because, looking at the cover, I thought this would be a nice comfy “cowboy-Christmas” story. My first clue that it wasn’t a Christmas-style story should have been when the first few chapters started in May. We didn’t even get close to Christmas until the last few chapters. I wanted to count this book toward the Christmas Spirit Challenge, it doesn’t fit my requirements. In fact, just my telling you about this story doesn’t fit into the idea of the Christmas Spirit.
If you like historical fiction and the Western genre, this novel is an okay read. Be prepared to spend time in Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. Be prepared to me a lot of characters. But, if you are looking for a Christmas tale in the Western genre, skip this one.