Dawn Comes Early by Margaret Brownley
Katherine Tenney has arrived in Cactus Patch, Arizona in 1895 on a Southern Pacific train from Boston. She has answered an ad in the paper that was "Looking for a woman of good character and pleasant disposition willing to learn the ranching business in Arizona Territory. Must be SINGLE and prepared to remain so now and forever more. Will be given ownership of ranch. Eleanor Walker". Because Kate had a history of disappointment from men, like her father and grandfather, also from her mother, she knew she would never marry. Kate was a writer of "dime novels" or potboilers as they were called here but her last book had been banned in Boston and she had nowhere to turn. Both parents had died and she was alone.
Her arrival was at a bad time as she arrived while Cactus Joe ( I pictured Jack Elam, one of my favorite actors), was causing problems again and most people were in hiding. The man who was to take her to the ranch had left when the problem occurred but the blacksmith, Luke Adams, took her to the ranch.
Luke's parents had died when he was young and his aunts, Lula-Belle and Bessie, raised Luke and his brother, Michael.
Her "training" to become a heiress began the next day and it was grueling. Breakfast was served between 4 AM and 5 AM. At 5 AM the ranch hands said their daily prayer and always asked for rain.
Kate had ridden a horse in Boston, but not like these horses. When Ruckus took her to get a saddle, he asked her "Western" or "Mexican" and Kate though as a blonde, she would think he would know she was not Mexican. This was a new world of words for her. She was college educated and used long words which confused the men. When Ruckus told her horse's name was Decker, she asked if it was for the English author, Thomas Deckker but Ruckus told her it was because he was the slowest horse and was on the "bottom of the deck".
The names of the ranch hands had barn names: Ruckus, Stretch, O.T. for some. Eleanor Walker was " the Boss Lady"; for a man it would have been "Old Man". The one name that surprised Kate was for God; He was called "Forever Man". She was dubbed "Goldilocks" by Ruckus.
Ruckus was in charge and even though he gave Kate lots of hard chores, mucking the barn as one of her first chores, he seemed to be on her side. This was not going to be easy to become the heiress; some who answered the ad only lasted for a day or so.
Luke is the main male character in the book. His aunts are concerned he has not married and he is already 30 years old. Michael is younger and more interested in writing than helping Luke in the blacksmith shop. Bessie is married to Murphy and Lula-Belle is married to Sam, who taught Luke about blacksmithing. I really liked these two wonderful mother-hen aunts.
This is such a good feel book and a well done Christian love story. This is a part of the country where God and the Lord is important to people and they are not afraid to show it.
There are some sad moments but lots of laughs and also confusing moments.
God invented night said Bessie so "we older folks can enjoy the benefits of youth without seeing how awful we look". They were discussing perfumes and satin unmentionables because the aunts had been reading Kate's banned book, Miss Hattie's Dilemma, which Lula-Belle had ordered. Bessie does not want to look like a painted lady and does not want to wear satin items. Lula-Belle has decided to order hers from Montgomery Ward; she wants to bring some spark back into her marriage. This book becomes part of the story in the book.
Other words that connected with me personally were dust storms or Arizona dusters; in West Texas we call them sandstorms. My high school, Monahans, school paper is called the Sandstorm. I have not heard the term.,"You best watch it" in Minnesota (where I now live), I "fancy" you, I have a "hankering" for you, a bowl of "fluffy white potatoes" sounded like something my father, who was born in Oklahoma, would say, "chipped cup" sounded so in place where Kate was at one time and Monday is washday. Uncle Murphy said "a drop (of rain) every 6 inches. My mother used to say " we had ten drops of rain" in Monahans; she was form Colorado where they had lots of rain. Ruckus says "Us western folks are easy to understand. You ought to know that by now. We may not always say what we mean but we always mean what we say".
There is a Reading Study Guide at the back of the book. This would make a good book for book clubs. I am recommending Dawn Comes Early to a friend who winters in Tucson and also belongs to a book club there.
I wish to thank Thomas Nelson Publishers, booksneeze.com and the author, Margaret Brownley for this complimentary book to read and review. Because is such a good read and not a complicated book to read, I am giving it a 5 star. Dawn Comes Early is one of a series of A Brides of Last Chance Ranch Novels.