Lori Austin has a knack for bringing the wild west to life in her Once Upon A Time In The West series. The third installment in the series called The Lone Warrior is just as good as the first two. The year is 1871 and Rose Varner has been searching for her daughter who has been kidnapped by the Cheyenne. She has been searching for quite sometime and there may be only one man who can help.
That man is called the White Ghost with Hair of Fire. He was once a prisoner of the Cheyenne but his courage and ability to see the future caused the Cheyenne to accept him as their own. Rose finds her man but sometimes legends aren’t as great as reality. The White Ghost is really Luke Phelan and he’s been living in the hills as a recluse, he has a love for alcohol, hears voices and sees things that aren’t there.
Luke doesn’t want to help Rose but he has never seen a woman as brave as Rose and can’t resist the urge to help find her daughter. Their journey will not be an easy one though, Luke has bounty hunters after him and they also have to deal with hostile Native Americans, rough weather on the plains, outlaws, armies and insanity.
The Lone Warrior is an action packed historical romance with deep characters and vivid scenery. The first thing I want to say is don’t let the cover of the book fool you. While the main story is a love story there is much more going on here then just romance. For one thing I loved all the descriptions of 19th century America and hearing how the Native Americans of the times felt about the white man and how the settlers felt about the Native Americans. I also liked how the book gets into the era’s politics also. Lori Handeland who is writing as Lori Austin has done a lot of research and it added to the story.
Another thing I liked about this book was hearing about Luke and Rose’s background. They have both suffered through a lot of pain in their life but they are both strong people. Rose was not a pretty woman and married a man she wasn’t suited for while Luke was a Civil War prisoner and a captive of the Cheyenne. These two are not the kind of people I would expect in a romance, which to me made the story better. I loved how the two come together. Rose feels that no man would want her while Luke thinks he is too crazy and Rose would never want him.
I think the main theme of this book was to never give up no matter how bad things get, there is always something to survive for. This is a fast paced book but it also manages to fit some humor in. In particular I liked the scene where Rose and Luke meet up with Alexi and Cat and Rose learns how to pull off a con. Alexi and Cat are from Beauty and The Bounty Hunter which was the first one in the series. The Lone Warrior is a self-contained novel, you don’t have to read the others but after this great book you will want to.