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Bitter Springs Paperback – December 3, 2015
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About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Laura Stone does such an amazing job of creating characters who seem to simply walk right off the page, fully realized and with their own distinct voices and stories. As soon as I was introduced to Renaldo and his family I felt right at home with them; I adored their relationships, between the brothers and their sister and their parents. Their dynamic was so familiar and natural that I could have read an entire novel on its own just about Renaldo’s family.
Even more wonderful to read was the development of Renaldo and Hank’s relationship. While initially they start off on the wrong foot, the slow build and the way they begin to trust each other was so enjoyable. And the best part of this developing relationship – is that they are actually given a chance. In the current climate of hostility towards LGBTQ+ characters on television, it is refreshing to read a book with such positive representations of diverse characters.
As a historian, this novel is spot-on; I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the author’s writing process and her deeper research into the real stories of cowboys, beyond the stereotypical and lily-white Hollywood depictions of cowboys we have long accepted. And for those who want to cry that ‘cowboys weren’t gay!!!’ there is quite a lot of research they have left to do – and if you’re really curious Ms Stone has posted a wonderful list of resources you can check out on her website (please do). It was a joy to see just a few of these stories play out on the pages of Bitter Springs, and I look forward to Ms Stone’s future works.
Then Laura Stone came around, in the early stages of promoting her book Bitter Springs, and threw that idea out the window: turns out a large chunk of cowboys were black or Mexican, and straight wasn't as much the default as I had been taught.
I'm not normally a fan of so-called "Westerns," so I wasn't sure if I would like Bitter Springs, but I gave it a shot, and it is now officially one of my favorite Interlude Press books so far. Stone has outdone herself (her first book, The Bones of You, was great, but this one is even better).
The reader goes on a double adventure with 21-year-old Renaldo, the main character, as he tracks down mustangs with revered mesteñero Hank, who trains him and happens to be the most attractive person Renaldo has ever seen -- spurning his dawning realization that what he thought was a simple disinterest in women is actually an interest in men. He doesn't panic about it, but he does stress about how his large, complicated family will react when they inevitably find out -- though, given the actions of one of his brothers, Renaldo being attracted to men may actually be a relief for his family in some ways.
Bitter Springs is a joy to read, full of family drama and exquisite scenery, not to mention a healthy dose of cowboy romance.
It was not hard to read (I just finished it). ;)
Bitter Springs is a sweeping tale of horses, desert, ranching, and love set in the 1870′s southwest. I hate to say too much because the entire thing was a delight, start to finish, so you should just read it without any spoilers.
It’’s bursting with folks of all shades and cultures and languages (I really appreciated those touches). The setting is fabulous and rich. It feels like the reader is getting as much of an education as the protagonist (which is my favorite). It had excellent female characters (often lacking in m/m romances, I find), and excellent friends/side characters (also often lacking in romances at all).
And I did not put it down. So go read it yourself.
I... got a touch lost at the beginning. There’s a lot of very interesting family drama going around, but it was a little hard to keep every body straight (ha!) at fist, what with the four brothers and their father all doing things, or being consulted, or being worried about (Renaldo, Eduardo, and Esteban were the names that kept rearranging in my head). And, too, I don’t think the protagonist’s personality got as established as quickly as it maybe could have... although part of the story is a coming of age story, and he does change a fair bit over the course of the novel. So there’s that. Additionally (probably partly due to how fluid the protagonist sometimes felt), the shift in the relationship and the escalation of intensity felt just a touch fast (though the tension and build up to that moment was, I just, I can’t even, ... I’ve bitten my nails as far as they go!). Not abrupt enough that I cared, but enough that I noticed it (which was the same for the slightly-too-modern linguistics... very rarely enough to notice).
In conclusion: it was excellent, and a quick read.
So go read it and report back. :) :) :)
Dear self: you dumb, snobby city girl. The problem with my sister’s version of the American West is that it’s only one (very well-marketed) version. Stone shows us another, much more interesting, one. This is a lovely rarity: both strikingly-written and engaging, AND well-researched realistic fiction.
Renaldo Valle Santos, son of a large “farm” family, is paired as an apprentice to legendary horse trainer Henry “Hank” Burnett. Hank takes Renaldo on the road to capture and train some new wild horses and while they’re out in the wilderness with nothing but tents and stars, things, uh, happen. Like, love things.
There is other drama that stands as backdrop: one of Renaldo’s brothers is caught with his pants down (literally) in the height of heterosexuality with a local girl to whom he’s not married; Renaldo’s sister Calandaría is promised to marry an older man she hasn’t yet met and is miserable about it. In this novel, the gay mens’ fears of rejection and judgment by family and community are put into context: there’s aberrant behavior, sexism, bad situations and judgy reactions everywhere. It’s not just a gay thing. This flies in the face of stereotypes about the old West, about the new South, and about the lives gay folks can expect to live.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I've been a sucker for Western stories since I was a little girl watching McLintock with my dad on Sunday afternoons, so when I saw one of my favorite writers had written an LGBT... Read morePublished 16 days ago by J. Keely
Wow! My FIRST historical romance and I loved it! Bitter Springs is a special story for me and it will stay in my heart for a long time. Ms. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Babs0214
When I first read the summary of this book, I was a little unsure of whether it was for me. (Cowboys? Horses? Read morePublished 3 months ago by Dayle
This book is an immersive experience. With glorious characters, beautiful details, and a love story so deftly handled that it doesn't feel trite at all, I found myself reluctant to... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Kimberly Naff
I've read this book five times since I bought it last year and honestly I will never get tired of it. Read morePublished 3 months ago by RoseJohnson
Bitter Springs isn't the kind of novel I would ordinarily pick up or choose for myself—I can't say that the Old West has ever been my kind of thing. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Suzey Ingold
Bitter Springs is a historical romance that goes places that so many historical don't—delving into a history of the American West that includes characters so often left out of... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Lynne
Twenty-one year old Renaldo is the youngest of five children of a wealthy landowner Estebàn Valle, who had moved with his family from San Antonio to the border of Texas and... Read morePublished 6 months ago by LenaRibka
I’ve just finished reading Bitter Springs by Laura Stone. It was wonderful! All the elements worked; the characters, the love story, the unfamiliar (to me) time and place in... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Perry Avenue