Summary:A collection of Western short stories that go beyond the standard action and adventure of the genre to focus on character and conflict. In the award-winning "Disturbing the Peace," honorable mention in the 2010 Rope and Wire short story competition, a sheriff experiences a revelation about himself and his relationship with the people of his town, while in "The Outlaw's Wife," a country doctor worries that his young friend is falling for a married woman whose husband is rumored to be a wanted criminal. From the suspenseful "Cross My Heart" to the comedic romp of "A Rangeland Renaissance," to a Western twist on star-crossed romance in the title story, "The Ranch Next Door," these stories will appeal to a variety of readers, as well as established fans of the traditional Western.
I'm kind of a sucker for westerns. I love the setting and Foley's collection is a perfect example of how artlessly it can fit into the short story length. She clearly understands how to add just enough detail for the reader to form a rich picture in their mind and not get bogged down by an excess of scenery description.
"The Outlaw's Wife" I think could best be described as romantic rather than "a romance." And while I did guess the little twist at the end almost right off the bat, it didn't change the fact that I was absorbed enough in the story to see how everything played out. Foley's style is one where the journey is far more important than the destination.
If you enjoy westerns, this is definitely an author you'll want to check out. Even though the focus of this review is on a single story, I did go on to read the rest of the collection. Every story was strong enough to stand alone. As we settle into summer, I would say that Foley's collection is perfect for a warm day and a cool drink.
Reviewed by Alain Gomez