Jasper Mountain-Kathy Steffen
Medallion, Nov 2008, $15.95
In 1873 Texas, in spite of gallant efforts to control the blaze, the fire marched on threatening to destroy Tumbling Creek Ranch. Owner Jack “Buck” Buchanan, Se. refuses to tell everyone to flee although his son Jack, Jr. pleads with him to do so before the inferno kills these loyal workers and family. When the house goes up in flames, Jack, Jr. takes responsibility for acquiescing to his dad, which led to his sister’s death
Buck’s best friend and his son’s godfather Victor Creely arrives with a proposition. He takes Jack to his mining operation at JASPER MOUNTAIN in Nebraska. There he finds incredibly unsafe working conditions enforced by Creely’s henchmen. He also meets Romani Milena Shabanov, whose paranormal skills enable her to know that Creely is a demon in human garb. As she and Jack fall in love, Milena cautions him to be careful. Her warning proves too late when Creely's thugs kill people followed by a cave-in trapping minors.
This is a superb Reconstruction Era romance in which the audience will feel they initially were battling the blaze and afterward living in a tent city on the ranch before going to the mines. The story line is action-packed, but extremely descriptive especially of the inferno aftermath and even more so the Dickensian looks at mining. The romance enhances the post Civil War glimpse of America through a strong characterizations though Creely is a pure evil villain with no redeeming qualities.