By Kathleen Morris

285 Pages

Published by FIVE STAR

ISBN-13: 978-1432875312

Historical Fiction/Western

“It would seem I have a knack for killing.”

These are the first words in the prologue as stated by our protagonist Chastity James.  Here she is, folks, straight out of Vassar College for Women, claiming a straight-laced prominent horse farm near Boston as home, telling us about her desire to serve as a schoolteacher in the budding west of the United States during the 1870s and 1880s.  In first person, she fills us in on arriving in Dodge City, where she faces a few rude and crude school board members as she establishes herself in the role of school teacher to the children of the raucous and ribald cow town that is now her home.  She tells us about the people she meets; some less savory than others.    Her seemingly routine duties are crassly interrupted by one scandalous cowboy who has set his ten-gallon hat on Chastity’s womanhood, as it were.

From there, the adventure flies off the pages at the reader.  How does a refined lady of the east handle such doings?  She has learned to handle herself quite well, but then, when actual confrontation rears up like a bucking bronco, what is she to do?  The town turns on her, leaving her no choice but to flee.  In her flight, she is pressed into service as a nurse, a hunter, a lover, and even a Shakespearean actress in order to find justification in her actions.

Vivid descriptions set the mood well – from the clean, neat horse farm of her childhood to the barely sophisticated saloons of the west, to the broad range of weather conditions.  The characters, too, are strong in their morality, depth and culture (or lack of it) as the reader meets Chastity’s family, her friends and acquaintances in Dodge City, law enforcement figures (some famous, some not), a troupe of traveling performers who have surprising connections that may or may not open doors for Chastity – not to mention a good blend of thugs.  To top it off, somewhere there rises a love interest.

Author Kathleen Morris effectively uses first-person voice. In adventure after adventure of Chastity James, the story flows with a satisfying rhythmic pace.  Those pages and chapters pass by in a nicely designed plot.

One might say that Kathleen Morris, it would seem, has a knack for writing.