Yellowstone Memories: Wyoming Yellowstone National Park
Not a Typical Romancing America TitleÃ¢ÂÂ¦
Most Romancing America novella collections are a set of four short romance stories set in the same place. Some are contemporary and feature friends or siblings, others are a combination of historical and contemporary, moving through time to the present day. Many have a common theme, and all have a sweet romance ending with a tidy happy-ever-after for the two main characters.
Not this collection.
The first story, Black Widow, is set 1891 in Yellowstone National Park, where Collette Moreau is trying to find hidden gold to support herself since the death of her husbandÃ¢ÂÂa death she has been blamed for. But she hasnÃ¢ÂÂt counted on Wyatt Kelly, who has also heard about the hidden treasure and wants to claim it for himself.
In Finding Yesterday, Justin Fairbanks is trying to escape his past in 1937 in a CCC camp in Yellowstone when his past catches up with himÃ¢ÂÂwith unexpected results.
Alicia Sanchez is fighting both the 1988 Yellowstone fires and her own history in After the Ashes. Thomas Walks-with-Eagles is there to helpÃ¢ÂÂbut her abusive ex-boyfriend has also appeared.
Jersey Peterson is a Yellowstone Park Ranger who has trouble forgetting her past sins until an encounter with researcher Taka Shimamori shows her that God really is in control, and they make an unexpected discovery.
The teasers sound as though the stories are going to be fairly predictable, but only one of the four is (well, in my opinion), and I think they get progressively better throughout the book, although After the Ashes is my favourite, probably because the ending was totally different to what I would have predicted, yet totally believable for those characters.
The whole series has been very well researched (the story of Ezra Kind and the Thoen Stone is true, even if its accuracy is disputed), and there was a definite sense of time and place, particularly in the later stories (oh, those Ã¢ÂÂ80Ã¢ÂÂs memories!). Overall, this was a well-written and thought-provoking collection with a strong Christian message of sacrifice and forgiveness. But I canÃ¢ÂÂt say any more without giving away spoilers! Recommended.
Thanks to Barbour and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.
February 26, 2013
Memories are Gold
Although the cover seems to indicate that all the memories in this collection are historical, the truth is the four novellas span from 1891 to present day in and near Yellowstone National Park.
In "Black Widow," Wyatt Kelly was orphaned during an Indian massacre and raised by a reluctant uncle. Never good enough or tough enough to meet his uncle's demands for a good cowboy, Wyatt has serious self-esteem issues. When he hears of a huge amount of gold hidden nearby by an old trapper, he determines to find the treasure and start a new life for himself. But he's not the only one searching. Half French, half Arapaho Colette Moreau had been sold to a trapper as his wife. Now the trapper is dead and Colette implicated. She, too, needs a new life--and she's a tougher, better cowboy than Wyatt. Who will get there first?
The second novella is called "Finding Yesterday." It's 1937, and Justin Fairbanks has joined the Civilian Conservation Corps, stationed in Yellowstone. He has a past he wants to forget, and the hard work and the beauty of the park are doing their job until two young women show up as visitors with their uncle and aunt. Suddenly all the guys in camp are crazy to show off for the girls, but Justin takes one look and steers clear. Lia brings too many memories. There's no way she could ever forgive his past mistakes. But when one of his coworkers leads the visitors on an ill-fated trip in search of long-hidden gold, Justin has a decision to make.
The third story is set in 1988 during the huge Yellowstone fire. "After the Ashes" tells the tale of firefighter Alicia Sanchez and Thomas Walks-with-Eagles, a man she has worked with a few times in the past. Alicia takes insane risks in fighting the fire, mostly because she can't think of any reason good enough to live. Thomas is determined to prove her worth, no matter what the cost.
The final tale, "Kamikaze," features contemporary ranger Jersey Peterson, who's beginning to wonder if anyone cares about taking care of the park any more. Between bratty kids throwing things in the thermal ponds and poachers trying to bag the elk, nothing remains sacred. If only the fate of the universe (or at least the park) didn't rely on a man Jersey has no use for: researcher Taka Shimamori. But maybe God's got a reason for pushing them together, and it isn't just because romance is in the air.
The author's multi-cultural background is evident in this set. Jennifer Rogers Spinola has lived in Japan and Brazil, and isn't afraid to tackle cultural stereotypes head on. Each story is true to the era, down to common brand names and slang. I really appreciated the depth of detail she'd researched to showcase the various time periods.
One of the things that's fun about this collection is the lost hoard of gold that appears in each story. It's central to the first tale but gets at least a mention in each subsequent one as well. It's only fair to say that though the books in the Romancing America series are marketed as romance stories, this author took some liberty with the definition (and that's all I'm going to say!)
February 2, 2013