Where the Wind Blows
by Caroline Fyffe
(Leisure, $6.99, PG-13)  ISBN 08439-6284-4
Here is a debut novel not to miss. If you are a western fan, this will make you shout for joy that someone has gotten it so right. If not, you will still find a solid first novel with action and a sense of historical reality. I will put Where the Wind Blows on my keeper shelf and revisit it from time to time, knowing that I did not discover all the gems in it the first time around.

Chase Logan is a loner and a cowboy who suffered the loss of a woman. This sent him off on trail drives and cowboying to avoid the pain and guilt he felt from failing his woman. Having just finished a job, he has a task he promised he would carry out. His friend Nathan Stone died in the arms of a saloon girl but he had a bankroll that he wanted to go to his wife. Chase agreed to stop by their place near Cheyenne and deliver the news. 

Jessie Stone is barely getting by and the last thing she needs to hear is that Nathan is dead. Jessie needs him. They met when she was pulled from an orphans’ train. Nathan took her in and made her his wife despite their vast age difference. Jessie is determined that she will adopt one of the little girls she met in the orphanage. Sarah is just two and Jessie refuses to let her grow up like she did, feeling dependent on the kindness of others and being made to feel that she was unworthy of even that. 

Sarah is being delivered to her new home with Jessie, and now with Nathan dead, Jessie fears the orphanage officials will not let Sarah stay. When Chase is still there the day Sarah arrives, Jessie convinces him to pretend he is Nathan until the men from the orphanage leave. When they do, they leave not just Sarah, but fourteen-year-old Gage, who is almost too old to stay at the orphanage and needs a place to stay.

Jessie and Chase form a tenuous bond. Chase leaves no doubt that he will be leaving, but he can’t quite force himself to abandon this woman and two children without protection. He gets shot while hunting which delays his leaving, and then Jessie is attacked by a man who appears to be notorious for raping and killing his targets. 

This story moves on the strength of both Jessie and Chase. Jessie is one of those women from the west who just does what needs to be done, but seems so heroic doing it. She is caring and yet strong, vulnerable yet independent and one who is willing to fight for what is important to her.  Chase starts off being a predictable male, but when all is said and done, he is a good man who knows what he needs to do and ultimately he does it. They are both well suited and well-matched. Their sexual chemistry is subtle yet it is there.

Fyffe portrays a picture of the west that shows it as a good life but one requiring sacrifice and hard work. She paints the picture of the beauty and the intangibles that pulled people to those isolated spots. Yet she captures the people who made up the West and who built things from scratch.  She gives them depth allowing the reader to get to know them. And she makes it all seem real.

Where the Wind Blows is a delightful story rich in the essence of the West. The romance is sharp and engaging. There is a lot to this story and once read, it will invite the reader to visit over and over again. 

--Shirley Lyons

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