7 June 2012
Review: Love on the Range by Jessica Nelson
“A man’s treatment of a woman’s basic rights says much of his character.”
Gracelynn Riley has travelled from Boston to the wilds of Harney County, Oregon, in search of the mysterious and misunderstood Striker, lawman and protector of defenceless women. She hopes that finding and interviewing him will provide her with the opportunity to earn a job as a journalist at the Woman’s Liberator, as an alternative to the society marriage her parents have planned for her. Not to mention the fact that she is half in love with the unknown stranger...
It is 1918, and the country is in the midst of a influenza pandemic, and her parents have sent to Oregon to stay with her Uncle Lou, to reduce her risk of catching the deadly disease (this does seem a little odd – Gracie’s parents dislike Lou, and I would have thought she was more at risk of catching the disease from all the strangers on the long train journey than she would have been in Boston). Anyway, Gracie meets Trevor Cruz on the train, and then finds out that he works for her Uncle Lou. She also finds out that Mary, Lou’s housekeeper, was once rescued by Striker himself.
It soon becomes apparent (to the reader, if not to Gracie) that while no one in town claims to know anything about the mysterious lawman, someone knows something. In fact, it is entirely possible that a lot of ‘someones’ know something, and that there is a conspiracy to hide the information from outsiders like Gracie. I think my main frustration was that the identity of Striker is heavily hinted at, then confirmed to the reader, but Gracie was rather slow to catch on.
Overall, Love on the Rangeis a solid debut novel, nicely-written, with are shades of Lori Wick in the use of language. The historical setting of the end of the Great War and the 1918 Influenza pandemic has been nicely integrated into the overall storyline to provide a pleasant, if lightweight, read.
Thanks to Love Inspired Historical (an imprint of Harlequin) and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.