A young woman in desperate trouble. An injured bronc rider's spur-of-the-moment decision to help. What will she give now to stop the bounty on his head from becoming a noose around his neck?
GP Hutchinson's action-packed new novel, "High Plains Redemption," offers readers an intriguing peek into Gilded-Age America and the still-wild West with all of the era's optimism, fears, drama, and power-mongering. From a mustanger's ranch on Colorado's high plains to a mogul's mansion in Chicago's moneyed suburbs, "High Plains Redemption" is a true Western played out in troubled and changing times.
A dangerous injury to Quint Woodall's spine abruptly ends his bronc-riding season with Cimarron Jack Wheatley's Real Wild West Extravaganza. On his way home to Colorado for recuperation, a young woman in desperate trouble bursts unannounced into his life. When Quint steps up and helps her, he soon finds himself accused of kidnapping.
Meanwhile, things at the ranch in Colorado are not as Quint left them two years earlier. Between his injury, a vicious new enemy at home, and the young woman's corrupt, determined business-magnate father, it's highly questionable whether the bronc-busting Quint Woodall will live to ride another season.
Hutchinson strives for historical accuracy in his setting and language but modernizes his characters’ politics. Though the narrative focuses on a damsel in distress, Cora is a fully fleshed-out and profound character. The chapters switch perspectives, so Cora never feels like an afterthought in her own story; she and Quint have fully separate reactions to (and feelings about) specific situations. Hutchinson hits on the important hallmarks of a traditional western, setting Quint and Cora firmly in a world of clear rights and wrongs, but he still manages to imbue the narrative with appealing sensitivity.
There are a few extraneous characters and side plots. One, involving Cora’s father and Julius abusing railroad workers, feels particularly sadistic and out of place, especially since it never factors into the end of the story. However, for the most part the narrative is lean, fast-moving, and well-structured. Though the bulk of the action takes place in a courthouse, the dialogue and setting feel distinctly western and the tension is as high as in a shootout. Hutchinson brings the western up to date without losing any of the genre’s historical charm in a gripping story with broad appeal.
Takeaway: This historical western with a thoughtful modern sensibility will enthrall both longtime genre fans and new readers.
Great for fans of Zane Grey’s The Lone Star Ranger, Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove Series.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A-
I really loved this novel because it encompassed every element that you would expect from a really fully rounded Western yarn. There was plenty of humor and hi-jinks in the initial interactions between the various characters, but then the plot gave way to a grittier, more realistic sense of threat as Quint was embroiled deeper and deeper into the central danger.