Gerry B's Book Reviews

Lone Star Christmas, by William W. Johnstone

A  Western tale in the classic dime-store-novel style.

Story blurb: Smoke Jensen, Matt Jensen, Falcon and Duff MacAllister—Together For The First Time

They just wanted to get home for Christmas . . . but fate had other plans.

It’s December 1890. A Texas rancher named Big Jim Conyers has a deal with Scottish-born, Wyoming cattleman named Duff MacAllister. Along with Smoke and Matt Jensen, the party bears down on Dodge, Kansas, to make a cattle drive back to Forth Worth. But before they can get out of Dodge, guns go off and a rich man’s son is killed.

Soon the drive turns into a deadly pursuit, then a staggering series of clashes with bloodthirsty Indians and trigger-happy rustlers. And the worst is yet to come—the party rides into a devastating blizzard, a storm so fierce that their very survival is at stake.

From America’s greatest Western author, here is an epic tale of the unforgiving American frontier and how, amidst fierce storms of man and nature, miracles can still happen.

Available in e-book format – 689 KB

About the author: William W. Johnstone started his writing career in 1970, but did not have any works published until 1979 (The Devil’s Kiss) and became a full-time writer in 1980. He wrote close to two hundred books in numerous genres, including suspense and horror. His main publication series were Mountain Man, The First Mountain Man, Ashes and Eagles and his own personal favorite novel was The Last of the Dog Team (1980). He also authored two novels under the pseudonym William Mason.

Johnstone had lived for many years in Shreveport, Louisiana, yet died in Knoxville, TN, at the age of 65. His death remained officially unconfirmed for nearly three years and was the subject of continuous debate in the forum on his web site. No statements were issued, however until the 2006 paperback release of Last Gunfighter: Devil’s Legion, which, on its copyright page has, indeed, confirmed that “William W. Johnstone died” and that a “carefully selected author” has been chosen to carry on his legacy. J. A. Johnstone is continuing William W. Johnstone’s series. – Wikipedia.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

As you may have noticed I have a fondness for Western novels, especially the classic variety, so when I saw the evocative  cover [no credit provided] of “Lone Star Christmas” by William W. Johnstone [Pinnacle Books; Original edition, 2011] I chose it as my Christmas book blog.

As a classic Western tale it has it all; i.e. winsome maidens, gallant gentlemen, good and bad gunslingers, fallen angels, cattle drives, rustlers and renegade Indians, so in some ways—with a bit more sophistication—it is a revival of the dime store novel.

No problem there.

The story begins on a train where we meet the winsome maiden (Rebecca Conyers) and the gallant gentleman (Tom Whitman) from Boston. Whitman is travelling nowhere in particular, just escaping a painful past, and so when he happens to rescue the winsome maiden from two churlish cads she offers him a job on her father’s spread, “Live Oaks,” which Whitman accepts.

Okay, right here we know that this is a throw-back to the ten-cent novel when a tender foot from Boston takes on the job of a rugged ranch hand—successfully, as it turns out. On the other hand, how else is the gallant Tom Whitman going to get romantically inclined toward the winsome Miss Conyers?

“Big Ben” Conyers is a sort of Ben Cartwright-type: A self-made cattle baron, paternalistic, and imbued with high moral standards in spite of having sired Rebecca by a woman other than his present wife. Therefore, he refuses to tell Rebecca about her real mother, and forbids her from pursuing a romance with the gallant Tom Whitman.

It is at this stage in the story where the plot begins to thicken, and also strain the fetters of credibility to the max. The winsome Rebecca, now the “headstrong Becky” is romantically rebuffed by the gallant Tom Whitman, and so she disguises herself as a cowhand and signs on with a cattle drive to Dodge, Kansas.

Ulp! Now that’s a bit of a stretch. From what I know about a woman’s anatomy (which admittedly doesn’t go beyond the obvious) there are certain physical features that are difficult to disguise—like beardless skin, small hands, and—okay—boobs. Moreover, we are talking about a cattle drive with seasoned cowhands who, like Andy Adams, Charlie Seringo and “Teddy Blue” Abbott, had probably been driving cattle since they could sit a saddle.

There are some other incredulities, too—like shooting a crab-apple-sized apple off someone’s head, and three strangers who appear out of a blizzard to lead a pregnant woman to the safety—but this is fiction, after all. So I’m going to buy them all, for in spite of these it’s an entertaining read.

Having said that, I’ll saw it off at three bees.

News

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Relive some of my memories of Christmas in the 1940s by visiting my personal blog: Gerrybuurniebooks.wordpress.com.

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The sale figures are in for Two Irish Lads and Nor All Thy Tears, and while I can’t retire in luxury they are quite gratifying indeed. Thanks you to all those who bought and read them. If you would like to learn more about any of my books, or to order copies, click on the specific cover below. Two Irish Lads and Nor All Thy Tears are available in both Kindle and Nook formats. Publisher’s price, $4.95.

   

Thanks for dropping by.

December 25, 2011 - Posted by | Fiction, Historical period, non-GLBT, Traditional Western

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