I really liked this book a lot. Until the final page. I found it unusual and rather thrilling, and I enjoyed it greatly. Until that last page, where Grey disappointed me so soundly I'll probably never read this again.
Before I go into why I was disappointed, I'll briefly outline the story. Madeline Hammond comes west to find her brother. She's exceedingly wealthy. She falls in love with the west, buys a ranch, and sets about making a really cool home for herself. And there's a cowboy named Gene Stewart who kind of goes from crude to awesome to crude to awesome with some regularity. Madeline is drawn to him, he's drawn to her, and everything points to them having some kind of very tumultuous life together for many years, if they can ever just get together once and for all. Also, there's an evil bad guy named Don Carlos who hates both of them with the fire of a thousand suns because... that's what bad guys do. I was always a little unclear on just why he hated them so much, but I figured it'd all come perfectly clear at the end, when he and Gene Stewart had a glorious showdown of some sort, and Don Carlos was finished for good.
Except that's not what happened. And even if, instead of a glorious showdown, Don Carlos had just gotten thrown in jail for being a stinker, I'd have been fine with that. But that didn't happen, either. In fact, nothing at all happened to Don Carlos. He didn't even get apprehended. He is still out there. Any minute, he can pop back up out of the blue and menace Madeline and Stewart again! This is all wrong, people! It isn't right, it isn't fair!
I feel like Zane Grey was so excited over the very last line of the book (which was good) that he just forgot all about Don Carlos. I also feel quite certain that, in the very next instant after that last line, Don Carlos pops out from behind a rock and shoots Gene Stewart. And I will never know because Zane Grey left me hanging for all eternity. Mutter mutter mutter.
Particularly Good Bits:
She scarcely remembered when she had found it necessary to control her emotions. There had been no trouble, no excitement, no unpleasantness in her life. it had been ordered for her -- tranquil, luxurious, brilliant, varied, yet always the same.
It was only by looking back that Madeline could grasp the true relation of things; she could not be deceived by the distance she had covered.
Once more, for the hundredth time, the man's reliability struck Madeline. He was a doer of things.
...sarcastic as alkali water...
Heedless, desperate, she cast off the last remnant of self-control, turned from the old proud, pale, cold, self-contained ghost of herself to face this strange, strong, passionate woman.
If This Was a Movie, I Would Rate It: PG for western violence and a sprinkling of bad language.
This is my 18th book read and reviewed for The Classics Club.