Friday, March 12, 2010

The Tribute -- Malloy Family #6 -- by Beth Williamson

It has been said that it is ". . . better to have loved and lost than not to have loved at all." Brett Malloy, a quiet, internal, reticent man who typifies the "strong, silent type" of Western hero, no longer believes this. Having won a broken down, falling down ranch from one of the old-timers in Cheshire, Wyoming, Brett is now starting his own ranch and comes to the conclusion that he needs a wife. He is envious of his siblings and their burgeoning families, but most of all he is lonely. However, there is only one woman he wants and only one woman who truly exists for him: the town doctor. Alexandra and Brett have history and it is a hurtful one.
How many of us can look back on our "first love", perhaps someone we met in high school and for whom we developed a significant crush. Some of those teen relationships ended in friendship and quiet realization that people move on and grow up. Some are meant to continue on to adulthood and don't. Some end in terrible hurt. Such was the relationship with Brett and Alex. He loves her still and mourns the 12 years since their relationship ended so quickly, almost as if they stopped existing for one another. But Alex is back, serving as the town doctor because her dad has retired as the community physician. Determined to win her back, Brett begins his assault on Alex's dislike of him and her stated mindset to have nothing whatsoever to do with him.
Assisted by his somewhat new friend Kincaid, a former gun-for-hire, Brett continues to rebuild the ranch and to resist the attempts of a wealthy and self-centered neighbor to take over not only his property but his woman as well. King Dawson is one of those characters that often pops up in stories of the Old West--a person who has always had too much money and too much given to him without any effort on his part. He has a core of evil that permeates everything he owns and everything he does. Together with his hired "army" of mercenaries, he commits murder and fraud, all to gain that to which he has no right. Alex and Brett survive the attacks and in the midst of injury and destruction, begin to own up to their continued love for one another. Their relationship grows in spite of all that Dawson does to destroy them and their future.
I especially like the thought that seems to run through all these stories: that people are not throw-away creatures, that lives can be redeemed through love and caring, that family and its ups and downs are the salvation of all of us. Kincaid is a case in point: a person who has killed for money but who recognizes that what the Malloys represent is what he wants. He exits the story by actually seeking to "kill" Kincaid -- by becoming someone else who has not earned his living over the carcasses of his victims, who is now wanting to breathe the air of caring and kindness. I also appreciate the fact that Brett is brought out of himself in this tale. He is learning that loving is about giving as well as receiving, that communicating is the stuff of which loving relationships are made. Alex's love and her enthusiasm for living fill his heart, heal his insecurities, and make a new man of him.
I think Williamson is so adept at the writing task and she helps us identify with these characters so far removed from us in time, but so relevant to people who have lived throughout history. Their struggles become our struggles and are people who project the thoughts and concerns that face people today. I hope you will read these Malloy Family stories and come to appreciate them as individuals who could have just as easily lived in today's world as they did in 19th century Wyoming. I give this book a 4.5 out of 5 rating.

No comments: