Saturday, November 26, 2022

Heresy by Melissa Lenhardt


Who would have thought that Margaret Parker and Hattie LeCour would ever meet, much less become good friends?  Margaret, known as Garrett to everyone was born in England and married a nobleman.  Hattie was born a slave in America and after that, supported herself in a variety of ways, often as a prostitute.  But after Garrett and her husband migrated to the United States, the two women did meet out West.  After Garrett's husband died, the women decided to use the ranch Garrett and her husband started as a refuge for women fleeing vicious husbands or family situations.  

The women were both excellent horse trainers and the farm was thriving.  They broke horses, did transport and were outearning the male ranches in the area.  That put a lot of noses out of order and the men grouped together to run the ranch out of business, refusing the women loans, putting a blacklist on their horses and anything else to ruin them.  Eventually the ranch had to be sold for pennies on the dollar and the women who lived there were left penniless.

What could they do?  What else except form a gang and start to rob trains, stages and banks?  Garrett always made sure they were targeting locations tied to the family that led the events that took their ranch and livelihood.  The women flew under the radar as men refused to admit that they had been outsmarted and robbed by women.  But eventually the truth came out and the law and the Pinkerton detective agency started to track the women, determined to bring them to justice.

This is a fascinating look at the Old West from another perspective.  The women's characters are all different and fully developed.  The love between the women who formed a different type of family was real and their friendships allowed them to do things no one would have expected.  This is a side of the Old West that hasn't been discussed and Melissa Lenhardt does a great job doing so.  This book is recommended for women readers and anyone interested in the Old West.

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