Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Bride's Portrait of Dodge City, Kansas, by Erica Vetsch--A Review

A Bride's Portrait of Dodge City, Kansas, Barbour Publishing, ISBN 9781616265069, September 2011

Addie Reid has worked with her Uncle Carl in his photography business since her parents died during the Civil War. She moved with him from Abilene to Dodge to open a new studio. Addie herself has considerable skill and talent as a photographer, which her uncle has encouraged. Here in Dodge, she's made a new friend, Fran Seaton, and things are looking good.

Until Carl dies of a heart attack not long after they open their new studio.


Despite her grief, she's determined to carry on by herself. She has the talent, the skill, the business sense, the studio, and all the equipment, supplies, and props that Carl purchased before his death. Unfortunately, she also has the mortgage he took out to do that, a hostile banker, Archie Poulter, who believes women shouldn't run businesses, and a rival, Heber Donaldson, who resents the competition and is looking forward to buying her equipment and supplies on the cheap when the bank forecloses. Addie has three months to come up with the money to pay off the bank.

With Fran's help, lots of penny-pinching, and the good business with the cowboys coming into town with the summer cattle drives, she hopes to do it. A handsome, interested, and interesting young deputy sheriff also adds some spark to the summer, but Addie, having been badly burned by a past beau, does not want to fall for Miles Carr. When she lands the contract for advertising photos for the new Arden Palace theater, she's sure she's on her way to paying off the mortgage and the security of a successful business.

But on opening night at the Arden, enjoying the company of Miles, Fran, and Jonas Spooner, the deputy who's courting Fran, Addie sees a face from her past: Vin Rutter, criminal partner of Cliff Walker, the outlaw who courted Addie under a false name. It was the exposure of Cliff Walker's true identity and character, and the trial in which Addie and her uncle were forced to testify, that precipitated their sudden move from Abilene to Dodge. With Vin after the last big stash of money that Cliff and the gang stole, and Addie terrified not only of losing her business but having her past as "Cliff Walker's girl" exposed, the tensions mount higher and higher. And with Fran falling for the ruthless but charming Vin, and Miles hiding his own secret past, a terrible trainwreck is coming for all of them.

This is the same setting, at about the same time, as Doc, Mary Doria Russell's novel about Doc Holliday, which I reviewed earlier. It's a different viewpoint, and a different focus, and makes an interesting counterpoint.

Recommended.

I receive a free electronic galley from the publisher via NetGalley.