I've been reading Elisabeth Grace Foley's westerns for several years now. I always enjoy them, especially her western fairy tale retellings (yeah, I'm totally not the only person who writes those). But none of them has come even close to the excellence of her latest book, A Sidekick's Tale.
From the quirky and outrageous characters to the hints of romance, this book kept me thoroughly entertained. You probably know that I dearly love to laugh, and this book made me laugh aloud time and again. It reminded me so much of a screwball comedy from the 1930s and '40s -- you know, the kind with an impossible situation that just keeps getting worse and worse until everyone gives up all hope of ever extricating themselves, and then somehow, everything turns out okay in the end.
Meredith Fayett is a pretty young woman who inherits a ranch, but it's deeply mortgaged, and she soon learns she's going to lose her land if she can't pay down the loan. She could use money her parents left her to pay off most of the mortgage, but she can't touch that until she turns 21... or gets married. So, she sets about getting married to one of the men who works on her ranch, Chance Stevens. Strictly as a business proposition, of course -- the most physical contact they ever exchange is the handshake they give each other instead of a kiss at the end of the wedding. Happily for Meredith, Chance is an honorable gent, and he promises that as soon as she's got her money, he'll cooperate in getting their "marriage" annulled.
But I'm leaving out the sidekick, and also the narrator, one Marty Regan. He loans the couple an heirloom ring to get married with, only it turns out that his large and idiosyncratic family has been feuding amicably for years over who that ring actually belongs to. And that's where most of the comedy comes in, as Marty and Chance go through a great deal of rigmarole to try to get that ring back and figure out who it really ought to go to.
Oh, I forgot to mention that this is charmingly illustrated by Annie Grubb of The Western Desk. I've bought some things from her shop over the past couple years -- I really like her work!
Particularly Good Bits:
There's lots of fellows whose names don't get into the history books, but if they hadn't been there at the other fellow's elbow at the right moment, the world would have -- well, either have missed out on something sensational or been spared a lot grief, I don't know which (p. 1).
I don't know if you've ever noticed it, but while the behavior of your family seems perfectly normal to you, it comes across as pretty half-baked to an outsider (p. 54).
She had her hands on her hips as we came up toward her, and the look in her eye as it fixed on me was like the one she wore when she was picking out a turkey for Thanksgiving. I tried to look meek and unappetizing (p. 57).
Even a sweet, pretty girl like Meredith Fayett, when she thinks she's been ill-used, can make ordinary sentences bite until you feel like you're holding a double handful of ice cubes and can't find anywhere to put them down (p. 121).
If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It: PG. Clean, family-friendly, and fun!
This is my 12th and final entry for the Adventure of Reading Challenge 2017! What a fun year it has been :-)