Matt Daly and his father first come to Montana Territory driving a herd of Texas longhorns in the 1880s. They, like many others, are determined to make a living on the lawless frontier. After finding an ideal spot to homestead, they start a ranch, the D Rocking D. Life is hard, but fulfilling, as there is money to be made selling beef to the exploding population back east.
When the train comes through, it makes life easier and it also brings more people. Lavina Lavold rides out west with her family and catches Matt’s eye as she steps off the train in Miles City. She too wishes adventure rather than the routine of city life. Her dream seems about to be fulfilled when she meets Matt and falls in love with the handsome cowboy.
Conflicts are common as there are rustlers who want the Daly cattle and other ranchers who want the land they claim as their own. A neighbor, Bully Buehler is one such man. He will stop at nothing to run them off, but meets more resistance than he anticipates as the Dalys will do whatever it takes to protect their land. When a body is found behind the barn, a range war threatens to erupt. Matt barely escapes as he heads south, leaving behind death, not only of people he loves, but the death of his dreams.
Wandering aimlessly as a hunted man, the dark path he finds himself on leads to more bloodshed. Unable to return to the ranch and his family, despair overwhelms him.
Finally he figures a way out of his situation. It will get the hired guns off his trail and put an end to his misery. The plan takes a turn he doesn’t anticipate, but it does free him. Eventually he makes his way back to Montana and is surprised to find that things there aren’t as he had expected.
His troubles aren’t over though, as before he can rebuild the ranch, he must overcome his own demons. With the help of a Sioux medicine man, he is finally able to confront his fears and return to the life he loves, although it will never be the same as before the trouble began.
The 1880s were called the Wild West for good reason. It was a time when people had free rein with little law as a large portion of the United States opened to expansion. Federal land was illegally grabbed with no repercussions as the lawmakers in Washington were a long way off. Hostile takeovers weren’t uncommon and many times people did as they pleased, even if it meant pushing others out of the way. That often led to conflicts that were settled with a gun or a noose.
A STORY OF THE WEST is a Western at its best, full of action and romance. It is also historical fiction, as besides being an engrossing story that will hold you to the end, it is an accurate portrayal of life in the Old West.
- Susan Spence, March 2011
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