Thursday, February 18, 2010

Devils on Horseback -- Nate's Story

Oh my, oh my, oh my! Hunks, hunks, and more hunks!! Beth Williamson keeps filling up the pages of her books with delightful and colorful characters that are rooted in the historical development of the Old West. Nate Marchand is a former lieutenant in the Confederate Army who, like thousands of others after the American Civil War, returned to homes and properties in the South that had been torn down, burned down, or otherwise made uninhabitable as well as finding that members of their families left behind in 1860 had died or been killed as "collateral damage" of that armed conflict. Together with four other Confederate soldiers who he fought with for four years, Nate finds himself on the road, searching for employment, finances, and most importantly, roots. Hired as D. H. Enterprises to remove a recalcitrant family from property that had supposedly been sold during the Civil War, the Devils on Horseback (as they call themselves) find themselves embroiled in a situation that involves greed, murder, political and governmental shenanigans as well as a beautiful young woman who rides like one who was born on a horse, shoots to kill and has the moxy which far exceeds some men of her times.

Of course you have the romance between Nate and Elisa, and since this is a romance, that is to be expected. But I found that the author developed all the characters in the Devils in bold strokes of her pen and with a great deal of detail. Those five men really live in these pages. I was also struck with Beth Williamson's sensitive characterizations of the pain of the Civil War, the anger and torment, revenge and grief, external wounds and internal damage that lived on long after 1865. One catches intriguing glimpses of the smells of battle, the horror of the prison camps, the starvation and disease that continued on after the war. There were no Americans whose lives were not changed irrevocably by that conflict. Not only were these five characters comrades in arms but they were "family" and because of that bond, they are always present in varying degrees and in various circumstances. Nate is not related to anyone of the other four except they have become his "brothers" and together they attempt to find healing and a new direction as people who have lived through Hell and survived.

The Old West was never portrayed with better word pictures, an engaging story line, balanced conflict and resolution within the plot, and, of course, the sizzle of romance that seems to creep up on people who not only aren't looking for it (at least knowlingly) but who are surprised by the holes in their souls it fills. I really enjoyed this book and loved the characterization of the Southern gentleman that seemed to have survived the awfulness of way -- a true tribute to those Southern belles who raised their men to be the "iron fist in the velvet glove." Their absolute adherence to the Southern traditions concerning justice, care for others, respect for women, and desire to be productive citizens is awesome and is a critical ingredient in who Nate really is. Williamson tells an awesome story. I hope she keeps right on giving us more glimpses in the hearts and souls of the Devils on Horseback! I give this book a rating of 5 out of 5.

1 comment:

Tracy said...

Wow - great review. I may have to actually read one of the DOH books. :) Is this the first in the series?