Though I am not normally a reader of historical fiction, I do enjoy movies about the Old West. Films like ‘The Outlaw Josey Wales,’ ‘Unforgiven’ and ‘True Grit’ (the Coen Brothers’ version, not the original). There’s something very appealing about these desperate, iconic characters struggling to survive in a desolate setting, with the promise of Progress—usually in the form of a new railroad—looming somewhere on the horizon. When I read The Dolan Girls, I found many of the things I love—strong women, villains cut from the cloth of a harsh adherence to tradition, and some other pretty colorful characters, both real and fictional.
The Dolan Girls is western fiction as you’ve never read it. S.R. Mallery’s words thunder off the page like a cattle stampede. And her sharply written characters demonstrate that truly it was women who tamed the American West.
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The Dolan Girls by S. R. Mallery has it all. Set in Nebraska during the 1800s, whorehouse madams, ladies of the night, a schoolmarm, a Pinkerton detective, a Shakespeare-quoting old coot, brutal outlaws, and a horse-wrangler fill out the cast of characters. Added to the mix are colorful descriptions of an 1856 land rush, Buffalo Bill and his Wild West Show, Annie Oakley, bank/train robberies, small town local politics, and of course, romance. Two, in fact!
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