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 “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 Julie, a disheveled dancehall girl 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, he cooks 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 high heeled dancing shoes are useless in the desert so 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 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.
Great Job you did here (on the review). My agent could not sell this book in New York and after some time returned to me, but Oghma publishedit and won the Spur.
“The Mustang and the Lady.” They have made a movie adaptation “Painted Woman” shot in Oklahoma. I saw the premier two weeks ago. Pretty damn good western movie. So small publishers can sell books and get things going.
Fort Laramie did the same thing to me it did to you. Maybe the rein-actors were part of it, but it had so much history. I stood on the windswept parade field and thought about the Portuguese who rode down through the snow on Christmas eve to report the Fetterman massacre. (I thought) How the friendly Indians staying by the fort quietly disappeared days before they ever learned Custer had been killed.
(I thought) How many faces of settlers showed up there going to California—some never made it. It is a very sobering site in our history and it is not that well known.
Fort Laramie… actually was in Kansas to start. Kansas line went to the top of the Rockies min early stages and I had an editor correct it in a rush for gold in a short story I wrote—but it really was in Kansas then. The bakery was another thing I remember. And the adobe wall saloon I felt it all walking around there on several different trips—it is like wine, it can intoxicate you. But just a glass or two is enough to make you want to come back for more.
Remember, I still swap a full page ad for any western fiction or history article in Saddlebag dispatches. All you need to find our free quarterly E magazine.