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by R.W. Stone. Published in hardcover by Five Star (2006) and in mass market paperback by Leisure (2008).
Owen Burke is an itinerant cowpoke scuffling by in south-of-the-border San Rafael when he learns of work at Enrique Allende's horse ranch. He secures a job as a scout to lead a herd of horses to California. Before the drive begins, though, he earns the enmity of Chavez, the ranch ramrod, when Chavez sees him speaking with Allende's daughter, Rosa Maria. Soon after the drive is underway--with Chavez and Burke's feud simmering below the surface--rustlers make off with the herd. Chavez convinces the Allende crew it was an inside job, and Burke was the insider. In short order, Burke is convinced he must catch the rustlers and recover the herd before Chavez's ad hoc posse catches him. In his first published novel, Stone, a medical professional by trade, bursts onto the western scene with a suspenseful yarn replete with action, a chaste romance, and a very likable narrator in Burke. Western genre fiction is in need of some fresh voices. Stone and Burke fill the bill nicely. Wes Lukowsky
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