Posted 27th October 2014
Category: Reviews Genres: 2010s, Historical, Inspirational fiction, Mystery, Romance, Social, Spiritual, Western
Comments Off on Erica Vetsch – A Bride’s Portrait Of Dodge City, Kansas
As people learned to say cheese.
Publisher: Barbour Publishing
First Published: 1st September 2011
Date Reviewed: 17th October 2014
Addie moved to Dodge City with her uncle after troubles caused them to move from Abilene. Now Carl is dead and Addie is trying to build up their photography business by herself. She has a romance-minded friend, Fran, and then there’s the new Deputy Sheriff. Miles has started his new job, and has a few personal conflicts about the job, owing to his new found faith, but he’s excited nonetheless to be working as a lawman, especially given his past.
A Bride’s Portrait Of Dodge City, Kansas, is a pretty fair historical novel straddling the mystery, suspense, and romance genres.
Christianity features in this book. It is a big part of a few of the character’s lives however in terms of the novel itself the faith is woven in enough that the general reader should be okay with it. There are a couple of times where Miles feels he should be declaring his faith to his boss, which isn’t really appropriate, but otherwise the times the characters think of God are totally natural – Addie prays for help whilst hiding from shooting, for example. And there isn’t all that many textual references to it, it is more a case that the reader knows the characters have faith.
The language is generally very good, the characters well written. Addie is self-employed, a woman working as a photographer in the 1800s against various prejudices. She is strong throughout. Fran is a dreamer and doesn’t realise the potential danger ahead, and Vetsch does put her in some situations, including a scene of harsh words from the man who says he loves her, but overall you can see where the author was wanting to show how the good guy can be a mysterious knight in shining armour if given the chance. This said there is a scene in which a bad guy gets perhaps more nasty than he had previously seemed (yes, even for his associations) that readers may find uncomfortable for the way it plays out. Miles will appeal more to a Christian reader than otherwise, though either way you’re likely to see him as a fair hero.
There are repetitions, for instance you hear about Addie’s move from Abilene a few times and there aren’t really enough updates to warrant it until later in the book when she gives you the whole story, and these feel as though a word count was needed because as soon as the narrative moves away from it the story carries on well.
The book is somewhat predictable by fact of it’s romantic genre, but another thread that seems predictable is not so much. This said, the mystery and suspense take a somewhat surprising turn near the end and one of the most obvious suspects isn’t spoken of until this end. The suspense itself, however, is written excellently and Vetsch hasn’t shied away from the details, in fact it could be said she lures you into thinking everything will be just about drunken cowboys, red lights, and saloons, until getting to the gritty stuff. And she shows the difficult and otherwise immoral choices that must be made in times of emergency.
There is a great deal to learn about photography and the times in general. There is a lot of detail given to photography but not so much as to make it boring. Indeed if you’ve even the smallest interest in the subject you’ll likely enjoy Vetsch’s descriptions. The book is firmly in cowboy territory and the balance between ‘protect the women’ and Addie’s freedom is good. Fran could have done with more freedom to choose, but given the way she is presented from the start, you know she’s going to go back on her words somewhat.
Lastly, this may be a clean romance, but its kisses and thoughts are pretty steamy all the same. Indeed Vetsch shows you don’t need sex for a fair tale of romance.
What works in A Bride’s Portrait Of Dodge City, Kansas (it’s a long title but interesting for its difference) makes up the vast majority. There may be flaws but looking at the big picture the book is very good. Cowboys and photography, gangs and romance, independence and dependence; if you’re looking for a western with a bit of faith, you could do worse than read this book.