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Holding the Fort (Book Review)


By Benjamin H. Liles

          I love history as well as westerns. But when an author like Regina Jennings melds history, westerns, and romance together--anything can go. And boy does this book go. Allow me to explain tis point and where I'm about to go. From the beginning of the book I was hooked by Regina's writing and her style. She starts off with, "The fumes of the gaslights at the foot of the stage protected Louisa Bell from the most noxious odors of her audience." And that's the only text of the book you'll get from me.
          Over the next three hundred fifty-one pages of reading delight you are taken on this wonderful journey Louisa is on. I won't give the full account of the story but there is a great deal of humor in the writing. From scenes in Wichita, Kansas to Fort Reno Louisa is doing her best to keep not just her guard up, but in how others see her. Overall, I consider it a light-hearted and a light-feel book. Yes, there are surprises as there is romance. Regina does a good job, I believe, in talking about events that happened, such as negotiations between civilians and natives in "Unassigned Lands." These unassigned lands are what we now consider as the state of Oklahoma.
          What isn't mentioned in the book, since the year it's set in is 1885, is that these lands--the unassigned lands--were ceded to the United States by Creek and Seminole Indians. However, what is spoken of are the relations between cowboys, soldiers and buffalo soldiers, the Cheyenne and the Arapaho, as well as the Mennonite people within the Fort Reno area. It's the area between the Darlington agency and Fort Reno.
          Jennings does a wonderful, to be honest, a superb job of creating a fictional story around the activities of Scout Ben Clark, General Phil Sheridan, Agent Dyer, and Cheyenne leader Stone Calf. It's a tale of love, trouble, heroism, adventure, and finding oneself that I find captivating. I was able to read the book in one night due to the fact I truly enjoyed Regina Jennings's writing. Her writing is fresh, superb, and I dare add touching and sentimental. It can easily strike a chord with readers who love history, westerns, and romance. Even if you're not a romance buff, like some people, it's still a great read.
          Regina Jennings, on her website, has eight books listed, and as far as I can tell is doing wonderfully in her writing as an established author. She has won the National Readers' Choice Award and was a finalist for the Oklahoma Book of the Year Award. Her numerous books have garnered well-received and favorable praise due to her writing ability. And now there's my voice to consider when it comes to fictitious historical/western/romance. I would say of her writing overall, from this one book, is that she is a breath of fresh air in a genre : western, that is fighting hard to keep from totally disappearing. In my honest opinion and feedback on the book, I'd call her a female version of Louis L'Amour, whose books I have read and enjoyed. If it's any indication, I would say grab several copies of her books and see if what I'm saying doesn't hold true.

          I received a complimentary book from Bethany House for my honest opinion to review and give honest feedback on.