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An impressive debut from a New Zealand (ex-American) author. A Long Trail Rolling takes the reader on a journey to the wild west, to the trials and conflict faced by the enterprising souls determined to tame it and make it their home.
This is a romance, a western, and an adventure story, all rolled up into a compelling read. Our heroine, Aleksandra, lived with her father, a fur trapper, in an isolated canyon in Utah. When she finds his body, murdered and discarded in a crevice, her life takes a sudden and dramatic turn. Her father had a secret, and someone else – somewhere deadly and dangerous – is after it, and will stop at nothing to seize it.
Aleksandra must leave her peaceful life behind her, retreating with little more than her sturdy pony, Dzien. She is not without skills, however, for her father has trained her in the arts of the cossack – and she is both a skilled rider and educated in the ways of healing.
Adventurous and impetuous, she seeks employment in the dangerous Pony Express, hiding her nature from all but those closest to her – like her Californio boss, Xavier.
What follows is adventure, excitement, romance and heartbreak.
Aleksandra is an engaging character, albeit a tad quick at jumping to (the wrong) conclusions and perhaps being a bit defiant of the social norms (an admirable trait in many heroines). Xavier is tall, dark and handsome, haunted by the ghost of his abusive father and rough childhood. The point-of-view narration hops between the two, giving insights to each other’s thoughts and, yes, desires for one another. The love relationship in here is not exactly unpredictable. There are, however, a number of other surprises. And if the girl-pretending-to-be-a-boy storyline is perhaps a shade overdone, this is still an entertaining take on it, without dwelling too much on embarrassing the heroine by putting her into socially awkward positions.
This is an independently published title, and as such lacks a little of the glossy flare that comes through the big established printing houses. It should not, however, be judged on the quality of the cover but on the quality of the writing – which is of high calibre. I don’t normally read romance, and I’ve never before read a western, but I devoured this one and am hungry for more.
Reviewed by Angela Oliver
A Long Trail Rolling
by Lizzi Tremayne
Published by Blue Mist Publishing