Friday, October 21, 2011

Book Review: The Rancher

Dawn Nelson lives on a large cattle ranch north of Spokane, Washington. When she’s asked “What do you do for a living?” she typically answers, “I am a published author, poet, wife, mother and cattle rancher.” Her popular stories of the real life in the modern west are striking a chord with men and women all over the country. She strives to make them as close to real as they can be, and draws extensively on “research” based on what happens to her in real life. “Saddling up with my characters is as close to saddling up and riding the range with me as you will get without actually getting on a horse.” Her newest book, The Rancher, is the third in a series, published by Gray Dog Press of Spokane. The spark for her motivation, she says, comes from having been diagnosed with cancer six years ago. “A doctor told me I only had six months to live and I was worried that my daughter, who was a few months old, might never get to know who her mother was. So I started writing down true stories from my life. I underwent four years of surgeries and then sent my manuscript off to a publisher. They loved it and that started my writing career. Since then writing has been a passion of mine. I love writing and every time I touch my fingers to a keyboard for a new story I remember the very first time and the tears that I wrote that book through and somehow that keeps me going. I write every day even if it is just a page or two. I have thirty-eight books in different stages of being completed right now.”What does she do to get rid of writer’s block? “To shake it off, I jump on my horse and head to the mountains for the weekend. Just me, my horse, my dog, a pen and a whole tablet of blank pages.”
The story is about a lady rancher named Laura whose husband left her for a wealthier pocketbook. Although she didn’t intend to ever fall in love again, after a long trip she finds the nicest man she has ever met at her door. The self-proclaimed bachelor owns and operates a two-thousand-cow spread and he has no time for women or any plans to settle down. His life and dreams are full of cows, calves, quotas and the bottom line. At least that’s what he thinks till he meets Laura. The only problem is there are two states between them and neither wants to leave their home. Can love find a way to move mountains or are two states just too far? They soon find that their hearts are not the only thing trying to put a damper on their happiness when a blast from the past comes out of the woods and sends Laura and Kyle running for their lives.
I enjoyed this book from start to finish. The pace was great and it held my attention from the first page through the last. Laura is a character I can relate to. She puts her children first and she isn't afraid of a little hard work. She meets Kyle and his father, Paul. Kyle's childhood wasn't ideal. His father was always working and their relationship is strained. Laura seemed to bring out the best of both of them. This is the third book in a series and I didn't feel like the author was punishing me for not reading the others first. I hate it when I read a book and find references to other books and I can't follow along because the author doesn't provide enough background information on plots or characters. Here, I was given just enough information to clue me in and it made me want to go out and buy the books. This book is 205 wonderful pages. I was a little unhappy reading the last chapter, which took place three months after the previous chapter. The author did such a great job creating her characters that I felt disappointed (and a little deprived) with the speed of chapter twenty. I would have loved another fifty pages instead of the condensed finale. I felt a little cheated, because I wanted to witness the meeting between Kyle (and his dad) and Laura's children. I wanted to be a part of the plans and I missed out. I wanted more! I am looking forward to reading more from this bright, talented author. She has a gift and I can't wait to read other books from this series. Many thanks to her for creating a beautiful story and allowing me few days to escape into her world of ranching, mystery, and romance.
Disclosure: This book was provided at no charge in exchange for this mention. Honest opinions given.

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