4 out of 4 stars
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A good western story usually contains a horse-riding hero, a lovely and loyal lady, and a villain worth fighting. Riding for the Brand: Sage Country Book Three, contains all that and more. I rated this book 4 out of 4 stars.
Author Dan Arnold has created a compelling leading man in main character John Everett Sage. I hadn’t read the first two books in this series, but there was adequate background information given to keep me from feeling too lost. In this book, Sheriff Sage has just completed the bloody work of cleaning up his county and is taking a few weeks off to spend time with his new wife, let his bullet wounds heal, and get to know more about the little orphan children the couple had just taken in. When Sheriff Sage’s investigation into the children’s past turns complicated, he’s forced to rely on his quick thinking and sharp shooting to stay out of harm’s way and, in true cowboy style, make right what had been going wrong. The themes of faith, family, and redemption are prevalent throughout this story.
It’s evident a lot of research has gone into this book. The descriptions of the Colorado landscape with all its buttes and wide open spaces are spot on and easy for the reader to visualize. The chapters about a cattle round up were particularly interesting and I liked how the author included descriptions of the various jobs to be done. The characters in Riding for the Brand were multi-dimensional and nuanced. The hero wasn’t perfect all the time, and even the worst bad guy had some redeeming qualities.
While this book would be generally classified as western fiction or historical fiction, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the prevalent Christian themes. The main characters are Christian and pray openly and honestly believe God has a plan. A funeral scene quotes verses from the Bible and living a righteous life is important to many of the characters. Just as in real life, characters in this book aren’t perfect because they’re Christians, but their faith is the underlying foundation of all they do. While some Christian fiction turns sentimental and cheesy, Riding for the Brand is a quality story that keeps its grit.
I would recommend Riding for the Brand to anyone who likes western or historical fiction as well as those who like faith-filled stories. There’s plenty of action and the plot moves along quickly so readers won’t get bored easily. There is some violence, but it’s not described too graphically and I would have no problem recommending this book to teen readers.
Riding For The Brand
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