Review by Carolyn Leonard

This is Dusty Richard’s 150th published book. When he showed the manuscript to his publisher, Casey Cowan, they called it “a real John Wayne western.”  I disagree.  In those old westerns, the cowboy only kissed his horse, but in a “Mustanger” the hero has a very present and active love interest.  Dusty says, “No hero is without a dark side, and every villain has a mother.”

Vince (the hero) earns his meager living by catching wild mustangs and breaking them to ride at his camp high in the Hondo Mountains. His mysterious past made him choose a solitary life where he works his operation alone. He likes it that way.  But then he finds a disheveled dance hall girl  named Julie wandering lost and sunburned in the desert. 

He takes her to his camp and treats her sunburn with cactus pulp (who knew?). When Vince learns Julie is running from a couple of hired guns, they cook up a scheme to fake her death, and claim she is Vince’s wife. He cuts off her long hair and shampoos it with yucca root (who knew?).  Her dance hall high heels were useless in the desert. Vince makes her a pair of moccasins from animal skin. 

They plan for Julie to catch a stagecoach and head east once she is safe -- but then they fall in love and that changes everything. First the Papago Indians kidnap Julie, and then the gunmen return to harm her. How Vince and Julie handle all the danger, and resolve these threats fill the pages with action and suspense.  

I couldn’t lay the book down until I turned the last page! A movie titled, “Painted Woman” is based on this book.

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