By M.R. Kayser
The settlers in the Redbud Valley are peaceable, God-fearing folk who try to follow the golden rule, but they've been pushed too far by the mayor of Blue Stone, who wants their land and seemingly has the law on his side.
Just as the nesters are banding together to resist the land grab, Blue Stone's newest deputy rides through their valley. Before they realize the sleepy-eyed youngster called Arizona is a veteran gunfighter hired to bulldoze them off their claims, he has already broken bread with them, danced with their daughters...and stolen the heart of one.
Young Theresa Gutierrez believes Arizona is more than a curly wolf with a quick trigger finger and a stone-cold heart, but her parents and neighbors have good reason to believe otherwise. What everyone agrees upon is that, in the brewing range war, the Arizona Kid is liable to be right smack in the midst of the killing.
This extremely well written tale seems to revolve around confused feelings and how to make the right decision from them. The main character to be affected by having to make these choices is Arizona, but Theresa also has to battle with her feelings and Christian beliefs.
Arizona has always been ok with using his gun to move nesters on, but this time his attraction to Theresa causes problems with his usual way of thinking. The law, whom he carries a badge for, insists it’s right to move the nesters on in the name of progress – and it offers good explanations as to why this is right. The settlers also have good arguments strengthened by their belief in God, as to why they should stay. All this leads to devious plots and deadly encounters that surely can’t end well for anyone.
M.R. Kayser has created a terrifically confused character in Arizona and it’s fascinating to discover just which way he will jump when push comes to shove, when some of those he rides with take their job a little too far in his eyes. Seen as being one of these killers Arizona’s relationship with Theresa is surely doomed as he is banned from seeing her by her father.
It’s not just Arizona’s problems that will make you keep reading this book, for both sides have a number of beautifully fleshed out characters that will make you want to know what happens to them too.
Yes, we’ve read similar storylines many times before, but this one is so well written it seems fresh and new. Filled with unforgettable characters, plenty of action that doesn’t hold any punches to the horrors of violence, and an underlying Christian message that is subtle enough to be a natural part of the plotline, this is a tale that I think all western readers will enjoy.