By Gordon L. Rottman
The Hartwood Publishing Group, January 2017
Cowpuncher Bud Eugen and his resourceful fiancée Marta confront all kinds of dangers in late 1880’s Texas, both old and newfangled. When the seed money for Bud and Marta’s ranch is stolen from a local bank out of its Yankee-made safe, along with an Army arms shipment, Bud and Marta go back to Mexico to secure their future and that of Texas itself, come hell, high water, or steam-powered locomotives.
This is the second book in what has now become known as The Ride trilogy. I read the first book, The Hardest Ride, some time ago and really enjoyed it. That book also won the 2014 Peacemaker Award for best western novel. Finding out that Gordon had published a sequel to that book put it on my must read list.
The story is told in the first person through Bud and I soon found myself becoming involved in the lives of both him and his mute wife-to-be Marta, and the many other excellently crafted characters that this story revolves around.
Once again the relationship between Bud and Marta is extremely well told and you’ll share their frustrations and joys as Bud tries to have Marta stay at home whilst he goes on his dangerous assignment to retrieve or destroy some stolen Gatling guns whilst at the same time getting back his stolen money in the face of impossible odds. Even though Marta is unable to speak you’ll have no problems understanding her motivations and thoughts through Rottman’s descriptions of her actions.
Throughout the story the author includes a lot of information about the workings of not just the Gatling guns but a variety of other weapons too.
As Bud infiltrates the rebel Mexican army whose General intends to carve out a piece of both Mexico and Texas for himself you’ll soon be wondering along with Bud how he can possibly achieve his aim. The more characters we meet the more complicated the plot becomes and as the rebel army grows into hundreds Bud comes up with a reckless, spur of the moment plan to complete his task which involves a stolen steam locomotive.
The book contains plenty of bloody action, particularly when the Gatling’s are used in anger and the final bid for freedom is filled with some dramatic and tense scenes.
Gordon L. Rottman concludes his tale with a chapter that explains what happens to the survivors for the rest of their lives which brings a very satisfying ending to his stories of Bud and Marta. So how does the third book, Marta’s Ride fit in? All will be revealed when I get around to reading it and if it’s anywhere near as good as the first two books then I’m sure I’m in for a very entertaining read indeed.