Vickie McDonough. End of the Trail. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2012.
I would like to thank Moody Publishers for my review copy of this book. See here for Moody’s page about it.
This book is part of the Morgan Family Series, which is also called Texas Trails. End of the Trail is actually the sixth, and the last, book of the Morgan Family Series. Although I have not yet read any of the previous books, I did not feel in the least bit lost when reading End of the Trail. As the web page for the series advertises, “Although a series, each book can be read on its own.”
The book is about Brooks Morgan, who leaves his home and family because he does not want to do ranch work, plus he is tired of his father’s perfectionism, nagging, and piety. After drifting for about a decade, Brooks lands in the town of Shoofly and is hired to be the caretaker of a man named Will, who is sick. Although bad at cards, Brooks wins Will’s ranch in a card game, probably because Will let Brooks win. Another character in the story is Keri, who is Will’s niece, and whom Will raised. Keri is a headstrong woman: we first encounter her in a scene in which she chases down a robber on her horse, to the displeasure of her teacher, who did not find that particularly ladylike! Keri is expecting to inherit her late Uncle Will’s ranch, and she is surprised to see that Brooks is now the owner. Meanwhile, a sinister banker is trying to court her, and some local big shot is attempting to get possession of Brooks’ ranch, through any means necessary. Will he succeed? Will a romance blossom between Brooks and Keri? Will Brooks become reconciled with the family that he left? More mysteries unfold as the book progresses!
I cannot say that the book is terribly original, at least not always. How many Westerns are there in which a greedy rich guy is trying to take possession of somebody else’s land, or a cowboy wins the heart of a headstrong woman? Many, I would say.
I was slightly annoyed by some of the misspellings and grammatical errors in the book, but, overall, I enjoyed the story, and any typos in the book did not detract from its readability. I liked how Brooks came to identify with his parents’ perspective after he owned his own ranch and saw how much work it entailed. If I had a favorite passage in the book, however, it was on page 159. Keri’s estranged mother, Grace, had her brother Will take care of Keri because she did not want Keri to be with her in her work environment, since Grace worked at a brothel. Grace has now left the brothel and is seeking to be reunited with her daughter. On page 159, we read:
“Grace was—-or had been—-the kind of woman [Brooks’] mother had warned him to stay away from. And he had, though at times he’d been sorely tempted to seek out a woman’s comfort, but those Scriptures she’d read to him as he grew older—-verses about wayward women—-must have found root in his soul. He couldn’t imagine what would drive a woman to live as a prostitute. He’d heard there was good money in it, but the price was too high. A shudder sent a cold chill through him to think Keri could have endured what her mother did, if not for Grace’s selfless sacrifice.”
This is actually a profound passage. Brooks’ mother Annie was a kind Christian woman, yet she had her prejudices, some of which were influenced by the Bible. I wish that the book went more deeply into such issues as religious prejudice and coming to empathize with others, as that would have made the book a lot deeper. The book still had a moving story, though.