House) by Pam Hillman has all the exciting elements of a great western:
ranching, cattle rustling, stubborn cowboys, independent women, betrayal, misunderstanding,
and romance. Set against the backdrop of a small town in Wyoming Territory, Claiming Mariah follows the story of
Mariah Malone as she copes with the legacy her father has left her – one of a
failing ranch and dependent loved ones.
One spring day, brothers Slade and Buck Donovan ride up to
announce that they are the rightful owners of Mariah’s cattle ranch. They produce a deed and claim that her deceased
father, Seth Malone, cheated their father out of a fortune from a gold mine. He
proceeded to shoot their pa, run away, and to buy the ranch where Mariah grew
up. The Donovans claim that their father
survived but never overcame a severe drinking problem, causing Slade, the
oldest of the Donovan children, to take responsibility for his brother,
sisters, and mother at a very young age. This has left Slade with a distrusting
and slightly bitter attitude toward the Malones.
Mariah reluctantly signs over the ranch to the Donovans
while keeping the unpleasant news about her father’s theft a secret to the
town. She agrees to stay on in the ranch house with her grandmother to cook and
clean until the rest of the Donovan family arrives. Slade discovers that the
ranch has lost money since Seth Malone died. Unknown to him, a group of cattle
rustlers have taken advantage of unsuspecting Mariah. In addition, Mariah is faced
with a tolerable – though possessive – suitor, Frederick Cooper, who insists on
marrying her. She is reluctant to do so, partially due to her eventual
departure from the ranch to go live in Philadelphia to be near her sister.
Through all of these circumstances, Slade and Mariah are drawn together by a
Hillman’s style is smooth and fluid, drawing the reader into
the story from the beginning. The reader is privilege to both Slade and
Mariah’s perspective. This amplifies the tension between the characters and
enlightens the reader to suspicions of cattle rustling activity. The setting
communicates a snapshot of small town life in the western frontier, complete
with a loving, welcoming community and friendly neighbors.
The novel explores the themes of forgiveness and the mercy
of God. It also models human nature’s stubborn tendencies to hold grudges and
reluctantly forgive. Through the course of the novel, the characters see that
God truly cares for each of His children. Slade Donovan had hardened his heart
toward God as his own father became more neglectful. Something begins to change,
however, as the people around him prove trustworthy and model the love of
Christ. Both Mariah and Slade see that God sometimes brings people through
difficult times to increase their dependence on Him, for He is always
Pam Hillman has authored a compelling novel depicting the
struggles and successes of frontier life during the late 1800s. The characters
are realistic, with unique faults and endearing traits. While the novel is
mainly a drama and love story, Pam successfully weaves a thread of faith and
forgiveness throughout, making it a tale of encouragement and triumph.
Claiming Mariah released in eBook format in 2012. After much success, the novel will be printed in paperback February 2014.
Courtney Clark is a small-town girl from Arkansas who
loves Jesus, reading, photography, cooking, crocheting, and hot tea (in any
combination). When she’s not doing any of those things, she’s working at her
family’s restaurant or teaching at the local community college. Catch up with
her at her blog, thegreenmockingbird.wordpress.com, or follow her on twitter