A woman flees an abusive husband and finds hope in the wilds of the Arizona desert.
Rebecca Quinn escapes her controlling husband and, with nowhere else to go, hops the red eye to Arizona. There, Gaby Strand – her aunt’s college roommate – gives her shelter at the Salt River Inn, a 1930’s guesthouse located in the wildly beautiful Tonto National Forest.
Becca struggles with post-traumatic stress but is enthralled by the splendour and fragility of the Sonoran Desert. The once aspiring artist meets Noah Tanner, a cattle rancher and beekeeper, Oscar Billingsley, a retired psychiatrist and avid birder, and a blacksmith named Walt. Thanks to her new friends and a small band of wild horses, Becca adjusts to life in the desert and rekindles her love of art.
Then, Becca’s husband tracks her down, forcing her to summon all her strength. But can she finally stop running away?
This isn’t the first book by Anne Montgomery I have been lucky enough to read, so I already knew I would enjoy Wild Horses on the Salt.
The Scent of Rain on Amazon about a young girl’s life in a fundamentalist community literally had me gripped by the throat, so I was expecting a gentler read this time!
Brilliant opening chapter, full of questions that I had to know the answers to…
Becca has run away from a horrible situation, turning to a family friend in the heart of the Sonoran Desert. She was safe, but not happy. She didn’t belong there, had nothing to do and no plans for her future, if that was even possible.
The author’s brilliant world building soon had me relaxing and enjoying the desert, the wilderness with so many horses. This was the kind of story I knew I wouldn’t want to end.
I loved the delightful chapters voiced by the horses, and although I was enjoying this beautifully written story, I knew trouble was brewing, simply biding its time. When it finally arrived, I wondered if Becca would manage to find a way to be free, once and for all…
I recommend Wild Horses on the Salt to readers of great fiction!
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Excerpt from Wild Horses on the Salt…
Becca curled into a ball beneath the soft cotton sheets and the horse-adorned bedspread. She didn’t want to move, but then her stomach growled. How long had it been since she’d eaten?
She stretched, and her assorted injuries made her wince. She crawled from beneath the bedding, holding her side, surprised to see that she had fallen asleep in her clothes. Becca eyed the small garment bag that rested unopened on a chair in the corner. She needed to brush her teeth. She eased herself slowly off the bed. The bruises on her hip and shoulder were still fresh and achy. Becca didn’t glance in the mirror as she crossed the room. She’d had a black eye before. Understood the rainbow transformation that would render the area purple, green, then a sickly yellow-brown before the wound would finally disappear from her skin, but not from her soul.
Becca ran her fingers through her hair, then opened the door.
“Hello, Becca.” Gabriella Strand was tall with streaks of gray in her dark hair that was cut short and looped behind her ears. She wore teardrop-shaped turquoise earrings set in silver, a black sweatshirt that boasted a herd of galloping horses, black jeans, and a pair of worn black cowboy boots.
If the woman standing before her was surprised by her appearance, she didn’t show it. Becca turned her bruised eye away. “Ms. Strand.”
Gabriella laughed. “Oh, honey, no one has called me Ms. Strand in a very long time. It’s Gaby. Didn’t your aunt tell you?”
“Yes. I’m sorry. She did…Gaby.”
“No need to be sorry. Now, let’s get you something to eat.”
Later, Becca stared at the empty plate before her. She’d devoured the ham, egg, and cheese scramble, four pieces of thick smoked bacon, a stack of fluffy pancakes smothered in real maple syrup, and a large pot of hot black tea.
Gaby sat and wrapped her large hands around a mug of strong coffee. The older woman gazed at Becca with dark eyes, her face etched with fine lines that indicated a lifetime spent outdoors in the Arizona sun.
Becca didn’t know what to say to this woman who she knew only through stories told by her Aunt Ruthie. The two women had been college roommates, both history majors at Northern Arizona University. After graduation, a continent had come between them, with Ruthie moving back to New Jersey and Gaby remaining in her home state. But the two women never lost contact, had often visited over the years. When it became clear that Becca needed to leave, her aunt had insisted she would be safe with Gaby.
“You don’t have to say anything.” Gaby smiled. “I left some towels in your room. You can shower or take a bath, if you’d like. Then, rest. We’ll talk later.”
All Becca could do was nod.