When Cimarron Ranch patriarch Chance Boden is caught in an avalanche, only the quick actions of hired hand Heath Kincaid save him. Before leaving by train to receive treatment to save his leg–and possibly his life–Chance demands that Heath read the patriarch’s will and see its conditions enforced immediately. If Chance’s three bickering adult children, Justin, Sadie, and Cole, don’t live and work at the ranch for an entire year, ownership of the ranch will pass to a despised distant relative.
(excerpt from back of book)
Considering the wide open possibilities and adventures that came with the old west it's surprising that my love of historical fiction doesn't enable me to cross paths more often. Connealy's latest book intrigued me: a ranching family, 3 siblings, a protective Pa, a loving housekeeper. I'll admit to have Bonaza flashbacks from the description.
The Boden's are no Cartwright's though. The family patriarch Chance is faced with a life threatening injury. The siblings are torn between chasing their own dreams and finding a voice within the structure of the ranch, and Heath, who would really prefer a chance to know Sadie better, keeps getting caught up in a Boden family mystery that goes back generations.
Overall, Connealy offers an appealing read. The characters are lively, the atmosphere makes you feel like you're out on the ranch (although the +40 weather we've been having this week probably hasn't hurt the ambiance), and the writing felt solid.
I do have a few warnings. First, there were a few points which could either be disappointing threads or solid tie-ins for later books . . . it's all dependent on how Connealy continues the series. Interesting little teasers such as Angie, the orphanage, the Pueblo Indians, Rawhide could all serve to provide a more robust and interesting world for the Boden's and Kincaid to live within, if, Connealy follows through. It's always hard to tell with Book 1 of a series and my personal experience with Connealy leaves me unable to guess at how well she'll pick up those threads down the road.
I also found myself railing, at times, against Kincaid. I realize he is written to fit a certain "character type" but at times his behaviour didn't seem to fit someone of his background and era. The poking at the Boden's and his encounters with Sadie felt more contradictory with the nature of the book given Sadie's revelations regarding her Father's will than necessary. Again, this may be to allow for a more steady pace of growth over a series but it's still early to say for certain.
Aside from those 2 concerns No Way Up provides a fun and entertaining read. I found the Christian elements to be less interwoven than in other offerings I've read recently but still prominent enough to fit well within its genre.
4 out of 5 stars
"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc."