"A physician has declared that people who sleep with their mouth shut live longer. He noted this is probably due to the fact that their bunk mates don’t kill them."

History comes to us in many forms. According to the author of this book, the times gone by enclosed within these pages are the result of oral tales handed down, research studiously applied, plus a heavy dose of memory and imagination.

Set in the pre-dawn of a new century (the twentieth), Hess begins her tale in 1900 Oregon. A harrowing prologue introduces readers to Rachel, a young woman in charge of two young children. She will be both observer and participant in the lives of families steeped in the realities of harsh environments, hard work, individual responsibility, and an over-arching love of life and respect for one another. Quickly, readers are dropped into the middle of multiple family members, hired hands, friends, and bunkhouse mates caught up in collective activities such as building houses, dealing with gold finds, planning weddings, driving cattle, and more. Dangerous situations are never far away, be they accidents at branding time or run-ins with outlaws on the trail. Yet humor continually hovers as well, whether it's the result of too much to drink or the need to hide fowl in funny places.

Hess makes extensive use of dialogue throughout her yarn. She pulls no punches when it comes to the salty language that was part and parcel of the times. Plus, she's able to capture the colloquial sound of words and phrases that make her characters seem as credible as they are memorable. This book is a follow-up to her first book, but a knowledge of the former is not necessary for the enjoyment of the latter. For readers who are Old West enthusiasts, this one might be right up their saddle horns.

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