Title: Gabriel’s Atonement (Land Rush Dreams #1)
Author: Vickie McDonough
Publisher: Shiloh Run
Gabriel Coulter is a farm boy turned gambler who makes his living taking money from cowboys who visit the local Kansas City saloon. He has never given a thought to those family members of the cowboys who were depending on the money lost at the gaming tables. While walking home one evening, he is ambushed and kills someone. He learns of a young widow and boy left behind and decides to help them anonymously if possible. He thinks this will atone for the life he has taken.
Lara Talbot is barely surviving on the meager income she makes mending clothes. Her young son, grandfather and sister all live off of what she earns. She knows her husband likes to gamble and is grateful she hasn’t seen him in the last year. Her grandfather tries to help as much as he is able, but suffers from frequent spells of malaria he contracted during the Civil War. Lara’s sister helps grudgingly by doing as few chores as possible and is resentful of Lara, thinking she is too bossy. Lara works herself ragged and often does without so her family has more. Then she learns they have been evicted from their rental home, forcing them to take part in the Oklahoma land grab. Along the way, Gabe is a constant presence and soon she falls in love with him.
The story didn’t have a lot of tension or suspense to build up to a climax, so the ending fell flat. The story plodded along slowly, although the part where Lara was getting ready to ride out to stake a land claim was well done. I did like Lara’s grandpa and his unwavering faith in God and in His provision no matter how dire circumstances appeared. The next book in the series, Joline’s Redemption, is due to be released in the fall of this year.
My rating is 3 stars.