RIO BONITO
The Three Rivers Trilogy, Book 2
By PRESTON LEWIS
Categories: Western / Historical Fiction
Publisher: Five Star Publishing
Pub Date: August 18, 2021
Pages: 336 pages
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With Lincoln County teetering on the edge of lawless turmoil, small rancher Wes Bracken avoids taking sides, but his goal is complicated by his devotion to what he sees as justice and by his friendship with William H. Bonney, who’s developing a reputation as Billy the Kid.

As Lincoln County devolves into explosive violence, Bracken must skirt the edge of the law to guarantee the survival of his family, his spread, and his dream. But dangers abound from both factions for a man refusing to take sides. Before the Lincoln County War culminates on the banks of the Rio Bonito during a five-day shootout in Lincoln, Bracken is accused of being both a vigilante and a rustler. As the law stands idly by, Bracken’s ranch is torched, and his wife is assaulted by the notorious outlaw Jesse Evans. Survival trumps vengeance, though, as Bracken tries to outlast the dueling factions aimed at destroying him.

At every turn Bracken must counter the devious ploys of both factions and fight against lawmen and a court system skewed to protect the powerful and politically connected. Against overwhelming odds, Bracken challenges the wicked forces arrayed against him in hopes of a better life for himself, for his family, and for New Mexico Territory. And throughout it all, Bracken stands in the growing shadow of his sometime pal, Billy the Kid.

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Review

Thanks to my Dad, I grew up besotted with Westerns.  There is something about the open range, a man on a horse with a Henry rifle at his side, one who straddles the thin line between justice and vigilante actions that captures my heart.  You just don’t mess with a man and his horse, or his hat, or his gun, or his family; it is that simple: just ride on by.  In a well-written story of the struggle to live a morally righteous life, Lewis has created the perfect character in Wes Bracken.  Wes is trying to build something out of nothing, a future for his sons in Lincoln County, New Mexico.  He may be the one honest man in Lincoln County.

Unfortunately, at the same time, the law is struggling to survive as well.  Bracken works hard to not take a side in the battle occurring in town between the powerful politically motivated store owners who have manipulated both sides of the law, only to find himself threatened by both sides.  Protecting his family has to take first priority over building up his horse ranch.  Teaching his wife to shoot is just one of the items on his long list of chores.

Lewis provides the entire picture.  There are the scorching hot summers, with dust flying in your face as you exercise the horses and make quarterly visits to the general store, while at night worrying about the political climate along with the criminals that are moving into the area.  The freezing winters when you pray for the next sunny day to come quickly so that you can get the horses a little exercise and are forced to patrol the buildings at night to check for bad guys wanting to kill you and your family, stopping only to stomp your feet in an effort to get relief from the cold.  The widow whose husband is killed, cattle are stolen, and is left to provide for her six children are all just part of the story Lewis weaves.  You cannot go wrong reading this novel. 

This is definitely an edge-of-the-seat read as the reader is pulled into listening carefully for any sound outside the house that might indicate Wes and his family won’t survive the attack.  The Western genre should be proud to include this novel in its list of the best, right alongside Louis L’Amour and Zane Grey.

Preston Lewis is the Spur Award-winning author of 40 westerns, historical novels, juvenile books and memoirs. He has received national awards for his novels, articles, short stories and humor.

In 2021 he was inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters for his literary accomplishments. Lewis is past president of Western Writers of America and the West Texas Historical Association.

His historical novel Blood of Texas on the Texas Revolution earned a Spur Award as did his True West article on the Battle of Yellow House Canyon. He developed the Memoirs of H.H. Lomax series, which includes two Spur finalists and a Will Rogers Gold Medallion Award for western humor for his novel Bluster’s Last Stand on the battle of Little Big Horn. His comic western The Fleecing of Fort Griffin and two of his YA novels have won Elmer Kelton Awards for best creative work on West Texas from the West Texas Historical Association.

He began his writing career working for Texas daily newspapers in Abilene, Waco, Orange and Lubbock before going into university administration. During his 35-year career in higher education, he directed communications and marketing offices at Texas Tech University, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center and Angelo State University.

Lewis holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Baylor University and master’s degrees from Ohio State in journalism and Angelo State in history. He lives in San Angelo with his wife, Harriet.


GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!
TWO WINNERS:
1st: Signed copies of Rio Ruidoso
& Rio Bonito;
2nd: Signed copy of
Rio
Bonito.

(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 9/17/21)

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9/7/21

Review

Jennifer Silverwood

9/7/21

BONUS Promo

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9/8/21

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All
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9/8/21

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9/9/21

Author Interview

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9/10/21

Review

Julia Picks 1

9/11/21

Excerpt

The Book’s Delight

9/12/21

Author Interview

StoreyBook Reviews

9/13/21

Review

Reading by Moonlight

9/14/21

Sneak Peek

KayBee’s Bookshelf

9/15/21

Review

Missus Gonzo

9/16/21

Review

The Clueless Gent

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