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Kathleen Morris
Author
Fallen Child
Angel’s Refuge is no refuge at all for the orphans it houses. When sixteen-year-old Josie Fallon finds herself on the way to a brothel, she escapes along with two of her friends, and is taken in by a former outlaw who teaches them survival skills, finding Josie a quick learner, especially with a gun. His ranch is a haven for many on the edge of the law and when it’s attacked, Josie and three of her friends ride out to dispense vengeance to those responsible. Wanted for murder and on the run to California, they find another cause dear to their hearts: more orphanages run by the syndicate that own Angel’s Refuge. Now it’s more than vengeance, it’s about justice for innocents who may never find it on their own, leading Josie down a dark and dangerous path, perhaps to her own doom.
Reviews
Morris, winner of the Western Fictioneers Peacemaker Award for Best First Western Novel, follows up The Lily of the West by taking readers back to the 1800s on a wild adventure through the Arizona territories. Sixteen-year-old Josie Fallon survives an abusive childhood at Angel’s Refuge, an orphanage that sells its boys to the mines and its young women to the brothels. With the help of her friend, Colin, Josie escapes that life, but she finds that freedom comes at a price as she seeks vengeance on those who have wronged her. Along with a ragtag team of friends, including her love interest Billy, Josie does whatever is necessary to survive.

With the line between right and wrong blurred, anything is possible as the vividly realized Josie becomes a vigilante, righting the wrongs from her cruel past while ensuring the same evil doesn’t befall other orphans in the region. She’s a dynamic, independent young woman who takes her life by the reins despite her dire circumstances. While the 1800s isn’t a kind time for women, Jodie refuses to be a victim, preparing for the worst while holding to the hope of a future with a little bit of love and peace, all as her crew comes to depend on her wisdom and skills to get them out of danger.

Josie isn’t the only bold female character. Her best friend Isabella, fellow orphan whom Josie rescues from prostitution, also shines in the spotlight. Both prove that the Wild West is no match for them. The plot follows a cyclical pattern of action and reaction, where similar conversations and ideas recur with situational variations. But rather than get bogged down in this formula, Fallen Child offers twists that will keep readers of the genre glued to the page and eager for more escapades. Morris’s love for westerns and her passion for developing charismatic women protagonists blend seamlessly in a lively adventure sure to lasso fans of western fiction.

Takeaway: Western fans looking for strong-willed, capable, and dynamic women characters will relish this action-packed adventure.

Great for fans of: Olivia Hawker, Sandra Davis.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A

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