Title: Bitter Springs
Author: Laura Stone
Publisher: Interlude Press
Release Date: December 3, 2015
Genre(s): Historical, MM Romance
Page Count: 302
Reviewed by: LenaRibka
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
In 1870s Texas, Renaldo Valle Santos, the youngest son of a large and traditional family, has been sent to train with Henry “Hank” Burnett, a freed slave and talented mesteñero—or horse-catcher—so he may continue the family horse trade. Bitter Springs is a sweeping epic that takes themes from traditional Mexican literature and Old Westerns to tell the story of a man coming into his own and realizing his destiny lies in the wild open spaces with the man who loves him, far from expectations of society.
Twenty-one year old Renaldo is the youngest of five children of a wealthy landowner Estebàn Valle, who had moved with his family from San Antonio to the border of Texas and Mexico on a land grant many years ago. Not only because it was perfect grazing land for their sheep and longhorn cattle, but also because of wild herds of mustangs with which Señor Estebàn Valle, a horse trader, was obsessed.
It is why he invited Henry Burnett, the best horse catcher in this business to train his son Silvestre. For domestic reasons or rather because of a quirk of fate – I don’t want to give away more than necessary at this point – Renaldo HAS to take Silvester’ place. He is both – excited and worried. Excited because he grew up around horses, and he always feels peace and joy working with these animals. Worried because
* of being miles away from his home and his family, and in the first place to be separated from his twin sister, who knows him better than anyone else, and who understands his being different, even if Renaldo himself can’t find a reasonable explanation for his lack of interest in women.
* of spending many weeks out in the prairie, in a company of a total stranger, probably an old horse master.
Well…when the legendary Señor Burnett arrived Renaldo’s jaw dropped! Instead of an old unpleasant stranger he faced a very attractive young black man, who couldn’t be much older than Renaldo himself. This talented mesteñero ,a freed slave Henry “Hank” Burnett with a sad family history, that we’ll learn later in the book, was nothing like Renaldo expected.
I don’t think I give a lot away, if I’ll say that this encounter will change Renaldo’s life and that he will have to make one of the most important decisions in his life.
I really enjoyed this book. My favorite part was when Henry and Renaldo were by themselves (and not only, but THAT you have to find out yourselves), on the prairie. Watching how they got to know each other, how their feelings for each other changed and the mutual attraction grew up, how they became close friends and later lovers is one of the most moving part in this historical novel.
One of the things I also liked a lot about the story is how Laura Stone solved it. No, not because it appears REAL to me, but because of the author’s note at the beginning(so yes, I believe, that IT COULD BE a possible solution), and because Bitter Springs is a nice traditional historical romance, that reminds me of an old Western movie, that follows a classical story-line, maybe not very realistic, but very enjoyable and entertaining.
My one complaining is that it took me awhile to get into the story. There was a bit too much of a big family at the beginning for my taste and I started to get impatient, reading in many details about the family’s affair.
Though in retrospect I understand why the author did it.
And once I’d established this invisible connection to the story in my head, I was irresistibly drawn into it.