A.H. Holt,
Riding Fence
(Avalon, 2006)

Riding Fence is set in Kansas in the late 19th century and is an old-fashioned western that combines romance with a lot of action, mystery and adventure.

The story is about Dan Smithson, a cattleman living on a ranch with his brother Henry, and his unexpected discovery of two kids in the woods. Still under age, he falls in love with Anne Marie, a 17-year-old heiress whose life is in danger. Will he manage to protect her and kill the villains that are looking for her? Is Anne Marie going to fall in love with him and marry him despite his humble background?

Riding Fence is a fast-paced western that involves a lot of shooting, suspense and interesting characters. Written in the third person, it offers the readers an exciting plot assisted by sub-plots that enhance and strengthen the story.

The story, apart from the fact that it is well constructed, offers the readers an unusual ending: action and suspense 'til the very last lines. There is no conventional epilogue in this book, and this resembles a movie scene rather than a part of a book. The characters are believable and depict real human virtues and vices: of course, the good guys are fighting the bad ones, as we usually see in a western movie. The heroes fight against steep odds and consequently beat the villains, thus satisfying the readers' sense of justice in this world. The writing style, which is simple enough for everybody to read, is enhanced by spontaneous local dialogue and evokes vivid images throughout the plot.

A.H. Holt, a historian, is an expert in narrating a cowboy's story back in the 19th century, using all the devices her own experience and her studies can offer. She is a poet, novelist and great-grandmother, and she holds a Ph.D. in history at Florida State University. You can visit her online at www.ahholt.com.

Riding Fence is a good read for all the family, both teenagers and adults who love romance, action, mystery and suspense.

by Liana Metal
28 October 2006

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