Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Legacy -- Malloy Family #7 -- by Beth Williamson

Beth Williamson's saga of the Malloy family now moves on into the second generation. Noah Calhoun, adopted son of Tyler Calhoun and Nicole Malloy Calhoun has now left his parents' Bounty Ranch and has made his own way in the world for three years. Believing that his carelessness has put his dad's life in danger, Noah cannot go home, and has had only sporadic contact with his family. He misses them terribly, and his three years as a drifter has been fraught with nights sobering up in various jails, days on end of unremitting hunger, working odd jobs to put a few dollars in his pocket, and trying to find his own place in the world. Noah is a very flawed human being: born to a woman who was cook and servant to evil Owen Hoffman, hewas himself subject to Hoffman's sexual perversions for two years; he was rescued by Nicky and Tyler following Owen's death. At the age of 15 years he was literally unable to trust another person, but was grateful for the Calhoun's love and care. Slowly he came to think of them as his true family and was engulfed in the massive Malloy clan. It is their acceptance of him in spite of all he was and had experienced that has given him a new understanding of himself and a confidence that he has what it takes to be a real man in his world.
Noah was taught by the Malloys that all people have worth, and as one who had learned that first-hand, he is unwilling--no, unable to tolerate mistreatment of another person, no matter their lot in life. Because he stepped in and prevented further abuse of two saloon girls by drunken cowhands, he is offered the sheriff's job in Chanceville, Wyoming, a sleepy little town that appears to be homey and friendly, but which is in the throes of a battle between sheepherders and cattle ranchers. Before two or three days are done as the new sheriff, Noah's life becomes complicated and he is forced to use the skills and lessons his adoptive parents have tried to teach him over the past ten years.
Further complication comes in the form of Rosalyn Benedict, a homeless waif whose mother was hung by a town mob ten years earlier, who has been systematically ignored and avoided because of what she reminds the townspeople. Befriended by Noah who is immediately taken with her forthright ways and speech, her irrascible independance, and her non-negotiable determination not to be a "charity" case, Rosalyn worms her way into Noah's mind and heart, even when she is unaware that she is doing so. Before too many days have elapsed, Noah is putting both his heart and his job on the line for this winsome lass.
The quiet but persistant evil that drives the sheep/cattle conflict unfolds throughout the story even as the love between Noah and Rosalyn grows. Noah sees so many characteristics in this young woman that remind him of his go-getter, no-nonsense mother and that is part of her attraction. One of the aspects of this story that I am particularly fond of is the strong and gutsy women who populate this story: Rosalyn herself, Nicky who enters the story later on, Elsa the restaurant owner who recognizes the injustices done to both Rosalyn and her mother, and Marina, the owner of the town saloon who would have loved to have snagged Noah's heart, but who becomes one of his best friends and greatest supporters. As a result of the support and ingenuity of these great women, the support of his parents and the loyalty of his uncles, Noah is able to not only become the sheriff of this community in more than name, but he has also found both an emotional and geographical home for his wandering heart.
I have never really been a fan of Western tales and have only read them when required to do so in school. However, Williamson has written stories that are engaging and daring, has dealt with social issues and flawed people, has given readers stories of redemption and romance, and has brought the Old West to life in word pictures that resonate with reality. This entire series is a great read, and I hope that more people will discover this fantastic family -- those magnificent Malloys. I give this book a 4.75 out of 5 rating.

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