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The Hardest Ride Kindle Edition
|Length: 315 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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The Hardest Ride is the best western I’ve read since Lonesome Dove, and like Lonesome Dove it will become part of the American myth. If westerns were in fashion now it would soon be a film. It has everything: Bud, an unforgettable young ‘cowpunch,’ Marta, the toughest most attractive young woman in current fiction, Mexican bandits and Federales, rustlers, fierce Indians, a crooked rancher, cross border battles, and as per the title, the hardest ride. Through broken and trackless country, harsh weather, gunfights, nothing stops Bud in his… Well, I won’t spoil the story.
The Hardest Ride even has descriptions of, and a recipe for, ranch frijoles that I plan to try this weekend. As a novel it transcends the genre, going beyond the standard conventions to tell a story that seems to be drawn from life as it was lived on the frontier in the late 19th Century. It’s that good.
The author clearly knows ranching, horses and cattle, the terrain, guns and gun fighting, and the history of the period. He also has a level of talent rarely experienced. His supporting characters are quickly drawn and memorable. His protagonists, Bud and Marta, are a real as any fictional characters I’ve encountered and their story has everything: danger, suspense, love and confusion, and a deeply rooted commitment to one another than goes to the edge of death, and if necessary, beyond.
Read this book. You won’t regret it, or forget it.
1. It felt real - I'm sure it's because the author has experience on a working ranch in Mexico, but you could tell this was not just a glorified view of a historical period. This book really understands what cowboying in that part of the world is about, and it honors the kinds of determined people who can endure that life. The historical detail was also fantastic--never laid on too thick, but so well crafted that I came away feeling like I knew what it was like back then in the late nineteenth century. While the first person narrator's voice takes a little getting used to (he talks like ... well, like a cowboy), it also adds to the authenticity of the book.
2. A genuine female lead - Many westerns are guilty of making their women characters flat--they're plot devices. Or, they turn them into some kind of gun-toting male fantasy. Marta was neither, and I absolutely loved her. She WAS tough as nails, but she was also vulnerable and flawed, and really bossy (despite the fact that she's mute. And while we're on that topic, I was amazed by the way I almost forgot she was mute because her forceful personality was so vividly portrayed).
3. The relationships were developed - particularly the connection between Bud and Marta, but really all of the relationships were compelling and believable. This isn't just a book about gun battles (although there is lots and lots and LOTS of shooting, and I've got several brand new gun vocab words), it's a book about people.
He starts out looking for work, and on the way picks up a dumb (Can't talk, but far from stupid) Mexican girl whose entire family has been murdered. His plan is to take her to the nearest helpful Mexican, but, well, read it and find out. I'm not going to spoil one of the finest pleasures of this very pleasurable read.
However as circumstances develop our hero and the young woman who is "not my woman" find themselves exchanging an amazing amount of lead with some most unsavory, but not incompetent characters.
Okay, here's the deal, you're going to like Bud a lot. You're going to love Marta. And you're going to wonder how they make it, and ... Not going to spoil it. This is fun. Highest recommendation.