THE FIFTH DAUGHTER
Julia Brewer Daily
Women’s Fiction / Contemporary Western / Family Saga
Publisher: Admission Press
Publication Date: November 1, 2022 ** 322 pages
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Emma Rosales is the heiress of the largest ranch in Texas—The Thorn. All the responsibilities of managing a million acres now fall into her fifth-generation hands.
A task Emma could handle with her eyes closed…if The Thorn were any ordinary property.
The Thorn is home to many things. Clear, cloudless skies. Miles of desert scrub and craggy mountains. A quiet disrupted only by whispers of the wind. And an ancient web of secrets won’t let Emma out alive without a fight.
The Fifth Daughter of Thorn Ranch is a family saga as large as the state of Texas.
PRAISE FOR THE BOOK:
“A delight to read.” —Theresa Kadair, Seattle Book Review
“Julia Daily builds a captivating world by letting her imagination lead the way. The result? A unique story that’s a little Wild West, a little old Mexico, a little ancient history, and a lot rebellious.” –Julie Cantrell, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Perennials
“A novel that combines mystery, suspense, adventure, and a romance that neither hardships nor time can erase between the main characters.” –Debra Holt, award-winning, multi-published Texas author of series such as The Tremaynes of Texas and The Lawmen Series.
“A dignified, passionate, and layered tale in a rugged yet picturesque landscape… This book testifies to the rewards of fighting for enduring connections between family members and home.” –RECOMMENDED, The US Review of Books
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I wanted to love this novel. I really did after reading the opening where we’re introduced to Emma riding her horse with wild abandon across the Texas landscape that’s described so vividly I could picture it in my mind. As a horse woman, I delighted in sharing this moment, remembering the many rides I had with my horse, enjoying the feel of so much power and relishing the time alone with just a good mount and the countryside.
Then my enjoyment of the story faltered for just a bit. It was hard to believe that somebody who’d grown up on a ranch and ridden horses all her life, would knowingly take off on a 3-day trip from home base and not make sure she had a way to communicate with the ranch hands should she run into trouble.
Obviously, something had to happen to propel the story forward, but more believable details around the inciting incident would have made more sense.
That said, I’m glad I didn’t stop reading, even though there are other places in the story where the manipulating of events stretches believability, but despite those blips, I did enjoy this book on many levels.
Normally there aren’t star ratings in the reviews here on the blog, but this time I’m trying something new – a rating for each story element to highlight the areas that the author handled with great creative ability.
Four Stars to the story concept – a person experiencing life in two different time periods without an actual time travel. That’s a nice twist to the time-travel novels that are so popular, and it worked exceptionally well for the most part.
Four Stars to the scenes with Emma living with The People and adapting to the primitive lifestyle. The way she gains the respect of the elders, as well as the way the relationship grows with Kai is nicely done, despite some scenes that were detail-heavy and repeated things the reader already knew.
Kai is an engaging, endearing character from the get-go, and his willingness to protect Emma against rival tribe members is a great testament to his character. The hint of romance at the start of her time with The People grows out of mutual respect, which is a great way for any relationship to evolve. The importance of that “truth” is revealed in big and little ways in the story, and I couldn’t wait to see how it was going to be resolved in the end. Could they possibly even consider a life together, and where would that life play out?
Three Stars for the pacing and timeline from when Emma first disappears to the resolution of the story. It seemed to go too long, with a lot of repetition of what the family was doing to find Emma, as well as situations at the village.
The chapters alternate between what Emma is experiencing with the primitive people and what is happening with her parents, as well as a few chapters that highlight Emma’s college experiences. The pacing there is slow at times, and some of that college backstory could have been eliminated without affecting the whole storyline, still giving the reader enough information to follow certain motivations.
The final few chapters of the novel are worth Five Stars, as the story comes to a most satisfying conclusion. The opening is powerful, too. Emma’s love for the land, her family, and the horses in her care is so strong, and it makes her an endearing character like Kai.
Five Stars also for descriptions. Wow! The rugged Texas landscape is vividly portrayed, giving a strong foundation to every scene. As I read, I could see and hear and feel everything that Emma did, which is such an important element of making reader connections.
The book is well worth reading for all those wonderful moments, as well as discovering what happens next. Does Emma make it back to the ranch? What choices does she make for the future? Those, and a myriad of other questions all have satisfying answers.
Julia Brewer Daily is a Texan with a southern accent. She holds a B.S. in English and a M.S. degree in Education from the University of Southern Mississippi.
She has been a Communications Adjunct Professor at Belhaven University, Jackson, Mississippi, and Public Relations Director of the Mississippi Department of Education and Millsaps College, a liberal arts college in Jackson, MS.
She was the founding director of the Greater Belhaven Market, a producers’ only market in a historic neighborhood in Jackson, and even shadowed Martha Stewart.
As the Executive Director of the Craftsmen’s Guild of Mississippi (300 artisans from 19 states) which operates the Mississippi Craft Center, she wrote their stories to introduce them to the public.
She is a member of the Writers’ League of Texas, the Women Fiction Writers’ Association, Women Writing the West, and the Pulpwood Queens Book Club.
A lifelong southerner, she now resides on a ranch in Fredericksburg, Texas, with her husband Emmerson and Labrador retrievers, Memphis Belle and Texas Star.
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Receives a $100 Amazon or Bookshop Gift Card
(U.S. only; ends midnight, CDT, 11/11/22.)
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