Desperate Straits
by Janet Squires

Whiskey Creek Press, 2014. ISBN 978-1-633-55755-0.
Reviewed by Denise McAllister
Posted on 10/28/2015

Fiction: Literary

This book was calling to me, chock full of a lot of my favorite things—a strong heroine from Ireland, with a love for horses (and the no-nonsense experience to boot), headed on a journey to the American West to see her sister after their father's death, and throw in a love interest who shares my last name, for good measure. I had to read this book. And thankfully, the author did not disappoint.

After her father dies in Ireland, Sarah arrives in Arizona only to face another family tragedy—her sister and brother-in-law have been murdered, leaving behind their young son Will and an old man, Jeremy, who are trying to keep the cattle ranch running. It takes a while for everyone to warm up to each other while working through their grief, difficult ranch life, and a general mistrust of others after the killings.

Enter Texas Ranger L.T. McAllister, who is dedicated to bringing the killers to justice, and who, yes, will become Sarah's love interest.

Author Squires weaves a wonderful tale, one to get lost in. Her portrayal of Sarah as a strong woman of the West is spot-on. Life back then was harsh. But Sarah was ready to adapt and trade her side-saddle Irish training to ride like a man over the most difficult mountainous terrain, while retaining her softer side to become a second mother to her orphaned nephew, Will.

In the dramatically written cattle drive scene, Squires paints an exciting canvas of a torrential lightning storm, stampeding bovines, thrown riders, broken bones, kidnapping, and romantic passion. What more could we ask for in a story?

We've all been in some desperate straits of our own from time to time, but, just as the heroine of this story persevered through her life and death struggles, we too can find peace after riding out the worst of storms.

Kudos to Squires—a great storyteller. Looking forward to a sequel.

Janet Squires began her career writing short stories and nonfiction articles, and has won awards in fiction and nonfiction. She provides presentations on writing, teaches workshops, and works part-time as a library media specialist. Squires is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), Women Writing the West (WWW), Western Writers of America (WWA), and Western Fictioneers. Squires' family pioneered their way through Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona as ranchers, miners, and lawmen. Her favorite activities involve horses and dogs. She's involved in animal rescue and welfare issues ("Monty: The Courageous Survival of a Rescue Dog"), and has fostered numerous dogs and supports a variety of rescue organizations. Visit her website.

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