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Love Finds You in Deadwood, South Dakota

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Love Finds You in Deadwood, South Dakota by Tracey Cross

Reviewed by Lisa Lickel

"Readers who like wild, wild west stories with tough heroes will find a hum-dinger in LFT in Deadwood."

Decent people didn't visit Deadwood South Dakota in 1879. The remains of a mining boom town, it had degenerated into a squalid community of…degenerates. But that's where newly widowed Jane Albright must go with a load of freight, her five-year-old son, a couple prostitutes who are forbidden to speak to her, and a dozen men. Oh, and she's pregnant. Thank goodness Jane is tough, for a three-month jostling trip across dangerous territory behind oxen could have been more trouble.

Jane Albright's no-good husband is dead, good riddance. Only trouble is, he left her with a load of debt, which is happily picked up by former preacher and gentleman rancher Franklin Lloyd. Lloyd visits the homestead to prepare for his new home and cattle only to discover that his dead debtor had a wife and child. He feels terrible about the situation but must have the property and offers Jane a train ticket to anywhere. Orphaned Jane doesn't have anywhere to go, thank you, and will keep the sweat equity she's already put into her homestead. In fact, she'll do pretty much anything to keep it—lie, drug a man and run away, even steal if she must. Jane manages to find a nefarious businessman who agrees to let her drive a load of freight in exchange for an unusually high wage.

LFY in Deadwood is a breathless and often anxious read. Poor Jane has only one decent day in the whole book, and that is after she's delivered the freight and is invited for a real bath and bed after three months on the prairie. The whole idea of constantly making bad situations worse as a storyline can be cumbersome to read.

Cross's characters were very real and gritty. Readers who like wild, wild west stories with tough heroes will find a hum-dinger in LFT in Deadwood. However, Cross depicts rather vivid accounts of cruelty to women and other characters, including descriptions of beatings and the aftermath. The bad guy is really, really bad, and the good guy almost too good in comparison. I questioned some of the timelines, but probably only an obsessive fact-checking historian like me would even think of stopping for details like that. Again, LFY in Deadwood is a wild and wooly read.

Lisa J. LickelLisa Lickel lives in Wisconsin with her high school teacher husband in a 150-year-old Great Lakes ship captain's house. She is active in more than one historical society, belongs to writing and reading clubs and is the editor in chief of Creative Wisconsin, the magazine of Wisconsin Regional Writers. A graduate of the Christian Writer's Guild, she has written newspaper features and magazine articles, radio theater, and authored several inspirational novels. Find her online at http://lisalickel.com, http://wisconsinauthorreview.blogspot.com, http://reflectionsinhindsight.wordpress.com, and Facebook.