After gunning down Rufus Petty, Bret finds himself faced with a half starved mute woman burying an old man. His only choice is to take her with him or leave her to die, so with her broken down old horse and half wild dog in tow they set off together. His plan is to unload her on the first willing person, but it quickly becomes apparent that life isn’t easy for a woman on the frontier and if he wants to ensure her safety he’ll need to keep her with him.
As they travel the West, searching for bounties, Hassie finds a place with Bret. Despite the limitations of not having a voice, she is smart and recognises bounties that Bret would have missed. Gradually Hassie’s view of Bret changes. She goes from seeing him as a cold blooded killer, to a man of honour who will put himself in harms way to protect those he loves.
Before long she has fallen in love, but Bret plans to return to his wealthy family in Missouri, and they will never accept a woman like her, poor and with an Irish father, so their time is short.
Westerns tend to fall into one of two camps. There is the idealised version where the good guys wear white hats and the bad guys wear black hats –– where a bad guy gets shot and he dies without shedding any blood; and the gritty, more realistic and usually quite violent version.
What I love about Ellen O’Connell is she takes that more romantic notion of the West but overlays a layer of realism so it is somehow entertaining and realistic but not hard edged. I’ve read three Ellen O’Connell books and I’ll definitely be reading more. This one is equal to my personal favorite, Beautiful Bad Man.
Yellow, Orange, Red –– what it means: http://wp.me/P2B7b5-9l