Reviewed by Vickie McDonough
A Claim of Her Own
by Stephanie Grace Whitson
"Readers will have a hard time putting down this exciting book."
Mattie O’Keefe is running for her life. In a time when a decent woman didn’t travel alone, desperation pushes her to make the long, difficult journey to Deadwood, South Dakota, in search of her brother Dillon. In his letters, he claims to have made a small fortune panning for gold and has enough money to buy them both a new future. On the final leg of her journey, Mattie joins Swede Jannike, a hefty female teamster who is hauling freight to Deadwood. But when Mattie arrives in town, what she finds there stuns her. The town is far worst than Dillon had painted, and he is nowhere to be found.
Mattie is determined to work her brother’s claim and to find the gold he told her about. But panning is hard, wet work, and living in a town of men where she’s one of the few decent women isn’t easy either. With the support of new friends, such as Swede, her son Freddie, Tom English, a merchant, and now Aron Gallagher, the unconventional town preacher, life settles into a routine. But Mattie knows she can’t get too comfortable. She ran away from a vile, controlling man who will stop at nothing to get her back. If he learns that she has friends, he’s not above harming them to get to her. Mattie’s days in Deadwood are numbered.
A Claim of Her Own is a captivating book set in a rich time of our country’s history. I don’t believe I’ve read a book set in Deadwood before, and Stephanie Grace Whitson does an excellent job of painting the hardships and joys of life there in the gold rush days of the 1800s. Mattie makes a strong heroine. She’s spunky and tenacious with just enough naiveté to soften her character and put her in danger more than once. But A Claim of Her Own is more than just Mattie’s story, there’s a strong ensemble cast, and readers will quickly grow to care about each character. Swede is trying to forge a life for her baby daughter and older son after her husband’s death. Tom English, a war veteran, is hoping to establish a store in Deadwood, but needs Swede’s help to get supplies. Aron Gallagher, is a man with a past who daily faces ridicule as he preaches the Word of God on the streets. Aunt Lou feeds their bellies with her fabulous cooking, while filling their souls with nuggets of wisdom and faith.
These people band together to forge a family of sorts, to help one another in good times and bad. Mattie has only had her brother to lean on, but soon learns the value of friendship and having people in her life that she can trust and rely on in times of trouble. As her trust grows and she covertly listens to Aron’s preaching, a flicker of faith is born, but believing in a God whose help she’s never had doesn’t come easy. When her worst fears materialize, Mattie must choose what’s important. Gold? Friendship? Faith? Her decision could cause her to lose one or all.
A Claim of Her Own has adventure, romance, intrigue, and a heinous villain who is narrowing his search for Mattie. Readers see scenes in his POV and learn how depraved he is. As the noose tightens and Mattie’s past catches up with her, the tension escalates. Readers will have a hard time putting down this exciting book. I know I did.
Vickie McDonough is an award-winning inspirational romance author. She has written four Heartsong novels and five novellas. Her stories have placed first in several prestigious contests, such as the ACFW Noble Theme, the Inspirational Readers Choice Contest, and the Texas Gold contest. She has also written books reviews for nearly five years and enjoys mentoring new writers. Vickie is a wife of thirty-one years, mother to four sons, and a new grandma. When she’s not writing, Vickie enjoys reading, gardening, watching movies, and traveling. Vickie loves hearing from her readers via e-mail.