Monday, May 12, 2014

Review Roundup: Peacemaker Award Nominees, Short Fiction

By Kathleen Rice Adams

The winners of Western Fictioneers’ fourth annual Peacemaker Awards for excellence in western fiction will be revealed June 1. Below are reviews for three of the nominees in the Best Short Fiction category.

“It Takes a Man”
By Cheryl Pierson
in Wolf Creek: Hell on the Prairie
Western Fictioneers, June 2013
$9.89 paperback, ISBN 1490505059
$2.99 Kindle, ASIN B00DPPFUPM
$2.99 most other e-formats, ISBN 9781301613717

Derrick McCain, a recurring character in the Wolf Creek series of collaborative novels, returns to his former home among the Cherokee Nation in Indian Territory to confront recently discovered secrets about his family. His father, a Cherokee leader whose illicit affair with a white woman produced McCain, allegedly is at death’s door. Tortured by his mixed heritage and allegiances to both sides, McCain reconnects with a childhood friend and a Cherokee woman ostracized in a classic case of society blaming the victim for a heinous crime. McCain must make some difficult choices that will affect his life, and the lives of others, for years to come.

Author Cheryl Pierson writes both traditional westerns and western historical romance. In “It Takes a Man,” her strong skills in the romance genre shine. McCain emerges as a swoon-worthy hero, yet Pierson manages a delicate balance between romantic sentimentality and thorny issues including race relations and society’s expectations.

“The Last Free Trapper”
By Jory Sherman
in A Wolf Creek Christmas
Western Fictioneers, November 2013
$8.99 paperback, ISBN 149372651X
$2.99 Kindle, ASIN B00GFEZA5A
$2.99 most other e-formats, ISBN 9781310352843

Mountain man Roman Hatchett faces the end of an era, unwilling to change but unable to prevent the disappearance of the only life he knows. In “The Last Free Trapper,” author Jory Sherman, recipient of the 2012 Peacemaker Award for Life Achievement, spins a character-driven tale rife with subtle symbolism. Using simple, unadorned prose in achingly eloquent ways, Sherman evokes a time and place of tremendous upheaval in the American West.

Hatchett searches his soul while attending a dying enemy. What he learns about himself and humanity as a whole is both heart-wrenching and hopeful.

“Charlie’s Pie”
By Livia J. Washburn
in Wishing for a Cowboy
Prairie Rose Publications, October 2013
$12.60 paperback, ISBN 061591070X
$2.99 Kindle, ASIN B00G9GTWVC
$2.99 most other e-formats, ISBN 9781311521330

Alone in a remote Texas cabin while her husband and son seek a suitable Christmas tree in the forest some distance away, Lauralee Brannam bakes her son’s favorite pie for the boy’s Christmas Eve birthday. When a wounded stranger collapses at her doorstep, she assumes the man is an outlaw on the run. Nevertheless, she nurses him back to health, setting in motion a whirlwind of violence.

Award-winning author Livia J. Washburn weaves tragedy, traditional western action, and romance in a way that touches the heart but never veers into the maudlin or syrupy. The suspense and ultimate resolution of the mystery at the core of the story will push readers through the tale like a West Texas wind. Ultimately, redemption ties up the package with a Christmas bow made all the more beautiful by its frayed edges.

Kathleen Rice Adams is a Texan, a voracious reader, a professional journalist, and an author. She received review copies of Wolf Creek: Hell on the Prairie, A Wolf Creek Christmas, and Wishing for a Cowboy from the publishers. Her opinions are her own and are neither endorsed nor necessarily supported by Western Fictioneers or individual members of the organization. Links in the review are for convenience only; they do not produce affiliate revenue.


  1. Kathleen, thanks so much for these wonderful reviews of some of the 2013 Peacemaker nominees for Best Short Fiction. I am so honored to be included amongst 'em, and thrilled for everyone else, as well. Livia's story is one I'm especially excited about since it was also included in Prairie Rose Publications' very first anthology, Wishing For a Cowboy. Thank you again for these reviews--you always do such a fair, honest job of reviewing, and I appreciate that!

    1. I am on pins and needles awaiting the announcement of the winners. This year's crop of nominees seems exceptionally strong to me. I don't envy the judges who have to make the final decisions! :-D

      Good luck to you in the competition, Okie! It's an honor just to be nominated. :-)

  2. Wishing the best to all the nominees, each one is a winner in my book and the true winners are the readers. We thank you. Doris

  3. Seems like the submissions get better and better every year- and they started off darn good!

    1. So true, Troy! You must be a proud "papa," since several of the nominees are from books you put together and/or edited. Way to go! :-)

  4. I was shocked to be nominated, truthfully. I know there was a lot of competition. Judges had a tough job. This nomination means the world to me, especially coming from Western Fictioneers. A finer group you will never find. Thank you Kathleen for spotlighting the nominees today.

    1. Livia, your story so deserved a nomination. So did Cheryl's and Jory's. I'm doing my best to get all the nominees reviewed, but I doubt I'll manage before June 1. Can't hurt to try, though! This is some good reading. :-)

  5. Solid stories, all of them. For some reason, I didn't get my story from that antho in the mix. ;-D (kidding, of course)

    1. This is what happens when you judge the first round, Ms. Mims. ;-) I don't envy any of y'all on any of the judging panels this year. What a bunch of tough decisions!

  6. Kathleen,

    What a service your careful and thoughtful reviews add to Western Fictioneers and its members!


    1. Aw. Thank you, Charlie! It's always nice to be appreciated. I feel like I receive more much than I give, though. After all, I get to read a bunch of western tales by authors who take pride in their research and their storytelling. What could be better than that? :-)

  7. Best of luck to all of the nominees! Nel