Knowing that she can save the life of a condemned man by offering to marry him, Rosie Mulvehey opts for a marriage of convenience to ex-cavalry man Bowie Stone, who promises to save her rundown farm as his part of the agreement.
My my, this author never fails to surprise me. Instead of containing one love story, The Wives of Bowie Stone tells 2 different tales.
Rosie Mulvehey is a kind-hearted drunk who doesn’t like to bath. She hides herself under baggy man shirts & is always unkempt. She is in a desperate need to obtain a profitable crop, but she lacks the manpower to tend to her land. A visit to town gave her an opportunity to get that manpower. Captain Bowie Stone is sentenced to be hung for a murder. In Passion’s Crossing, there is a loophole that let a man escape from his hanging by marrying a woman. Rosie picks Bowie as her husband. They get married & go back to her farm.
Back in the farm, Bowie is asked to strip himself bare before being given a bath by Rosie’s helper, a black woman called Lodisha. A few days later, they start working on the farm. Bowie’s part is to pull the plow. Together with an Indian called John Hawkins, the three of them work restlessly everyday. By the end of every day, they are so damn tired that they have to drag themselves back to the house, dreading the next day to come. As they work side by side, they start to grow feelings for each other.
Rosie’s determination to succeed in yielding a profitable crop is fueled by her hatred towards her deceased stepfather, Frank Blevins. She wants to show that she is better than what Blevins always says about her. And she thinks of it as an act of revenge even though he is already dead. To escape the hell that is her life, she is always drinking & becomes a drunk. Every Saturday she will ride to town & spend the night in jail for shooting up the saloon. Bowie knows that underneath all that rude & manly demeanor, there is a very lovely girl waiting to be brought to light.
Her feelings for Bowie make her wanna change for the better. She starts drinking less & actually takes care of herself. One day, after they got home from a ball, they finally made love and that is when she also realizes that making love does not always equate to pain, but it can also be both enjoyable & pleasurable. She wants to do it again & wonders why Bowie doesn’t seem to want to. He forces her to quit drinking or he won’t touch her again. And so life resumes blissfully.
Just when she thinks her life is going to be perfect, a herd of longhorns threatens to ruin her crops ready for harvest in just a few days. Unbeknownst to her, Bowie actually harbors a secret that is enough to shatter her trust in him & her soul.
I always love Maggie’s heroines. They serve as an example to show that women too can work as hard as a man & be as strong and brave. As the story progresses, Rosie changes from an unkempt drunk to a beautiful strong woman. And Bowie, oh how my heart breaks for you. He works himself ragged & always faces death in the face. He thinks that he should have died during the execution and is not worthy of life.
The other story is about Susan, a woman who is left penniless after her father in law died from a heart attack. Armed with only $40, she set out on a train west-bound with her young son. In contrast with Rosie, Susan has never known hard work & is always served by a servant. In this story, we see how she struggles to become a teacher to provide for herself & her son. She too changes for the better. From a watering pot who cries at the first sign of trouble to a woman who manages to deal with dire & devastating situations such as the death of her son. All along she is helped by a generous man who can’t help but to fall in love with her.
Although I would have preferred the story to be centered on Rosie, I cannot say that I don’t enjoy Susan’s story. It is as equally engaging as Rosie’s story. How Ms Maggie manages to be so awesome is unfathomable to me. Thumbs up ! 4.5 stars for The Wives of Bowie Stone!