Heartbreak Trail by Susan K. Marlow

Book description:

The second in the Circle C Milestones series
Andrea Carter can ride, rope, and cut out cattle with the best of her brothers’ ranch hands. Yet, her mother has always held the family’s youngest daughter back from fully participating in ranch activities.
With the approach of her fifteenth birthday, even the ranch boss, big brother Chad, can’t deny that his baby sister is better at ranch skills than some of his cowhands. When Andi announces that her quinceañera birthday wish is to join the upcoming cattle drive, her family is stunned. But after further discussion and multiple newspaper clippings about spirited women who balked at society’s expectations, even Mother agrees that the only way to get this cattle-drive notion out of Andi’s head is by letting her and her cousin Levi go along as Cook’s helpers. Andi is elated. What can go wrong on a two-week drive to Los Angeles?
Andi quickly discovers that a cattle drive is a dirty, dangerous business with little sleep and the same food day after day. Between late nights, dust, mosquitos, and an abrasive cowhand trying to win Andi’s attention, it is definitely not a holiday. Andi grimly determines she will stick it out. When a river crossing goes wrong and Chad is shot in a gunfight with suspicious men who have been shadowing the herd, Mitch the trail boss finds himself dangerously shorthanded. Andi and Levi can no longer just give Cook a hand. It’s time to pitch in and help Mitch get their cattle to market―any way they can.

My review:

I thought this book was very fun to read.  I enjoyed revisiting Andi and her family and I am a big fan of Marlow.

The best part about this book for me was the descriptiveness of the cattle drive.  Marlow does a great job of capturing experiences that the workers of a cattle drive might have experienced.  It is one thing to know that cowboys would drive cattle across rivers and eat the food that the cook was able to carry along, but another thing to experience the dangers and monotony through the eyes of a young girl.  Young readers, especially those studying the west, will benefit from Andi’s reflections of her experiences.

I also enjoyed this book from the message of it.  Andi is so desperate to participate in the cattle drive, but soon understands that the reality of life on the trail is much different from what she imagined.  I can certainly identify with that!

Marlow delivers something for everyone in Heartbreak Trail.  There is danger, mystery, excitement, and the love that a family has for each other.  If you are looking for a great book to give young readers a glimpse into the lifestyle of a cattle drive and the quest of a young girl for adventure, this is a great choice!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

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