The 1800s was a ruthless time, and Burns powerfully showcases that harsh reality through Mattie’s story and much arresting period detail. Denver is a town rife with criminals, politicians, and morality committees, and Mattie often finds herself caught in between the three. She uses her business sense and street smarts to protect herself, and her girls, from the more hardened criminals—like Jefferson “Soapy” Smith, the unrelenting head of a Denver crime syndicate. When Mattie’s husband Cortez gets caught up in one of Soapy’s crime scenes, and the morality committees amp up their campaigns against the town’s vices, things quickly heat up, making the journey to the Yukon all the more attractive when it comes Mattie’s way.
This action-packed tale is rare in its spotlight on a successful businesswoman in what was once primarily considered a “man’s world.” Mattie is an admirable hero, and watching her carve out a life for herself in the most rugged terrain is a thrill of a ride—as are the intimate glimpses readers will gain of the harrowing experiences for most women of the West. This is a vivid story of survival—a hard-won skill that serves Mattie well across multiple settings and exciting challenges—that fully captures the grim life of the Wild West.
Takeaway: A shrewd businesswoman survives against all odds in the Wild West.
Comparable Titles: Jeannette Walls’s Half Broke Horses, Larry Feign’s The Flower Boat Girl.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A