Saviours of Oestend
Saviours of Oestend by Marie Sexton
Publisher : Total-E-Bound Publishing (BUY HERE)
Genre : Romance, Fantasy, Western
Length : 266 pages ebook
Life on the prairie has never been easy, but now Oestend itself seems bent on destruction.
Banished from the BarChi by the man he loves, Dante Pane must find a way to rebuild his life and heal his broken heart. Unable to love women, afraid to love men, Dante wants only to find some peace.
But peace is hard to come by in Oestend. Dante’s new home reeks of death, he can’t keep his ranch hands in line, and his new cook is taking over his house. As if that’s not enough, strange occurrences plague the prairie—dead animals, unnatural weather, and voices riding wind. Dante is determined to persevere, but it soon becomes clear there’s more at stake than his ranch. All of Oestend is at risk, unless somebody can set things right.
With the help of his faithful ranch hands, Frances and Simon, and the combined strength of friends, both old and new, Dante will fight for his life, his home, and the heart of the one he loves.
Dante Pane is not a nice man. He’s aware of that fact. It hasn’t helped his mood. Living on the ranch where his favorite brother died also hasn’t helped his mood. There is a part of Dante that wants to blame all his problems on Aren. It all went to shit once Aren showed up and stole Deacon, the love of Dante’s life. Unfortunately, Dante was a big part of everything going to shit given he broke into Aren’s house and destroyed his things. It’s easier to just hate Aren, but the guy tends to do the right things. Like sending a woman, Cami, up to Dante’s ranch. Dante was not pleased until he realized there would be no more meals comprised solely of pickles canned before the ranch’s previous residents had died.
Cami is intensely private. Slowly, she parcels out bits of her personal story to Dante as she mends clothes in front of the fire. Mostly, she tells mythological folk tales. Dante finds it comforting to have someone with whom he can relax, and, in some ways, someone he can take care of. Regardless of his marriage ending disastrously, he had never given up on the ideal of being a rancher with a wife and children. Dante, being uninterested in women sexually, and Cami, not wanting a sexual relationship due to her past in a whorehouse, are able to become friends.
A portion of the story is told from the point of view of Simon, the foreman on Dante’s ranch. He is best friends with Frances. He knows Frances loves him, romantically, but just doesn’t feel that way in return. It’s not just that Frances is the wrong gender, but Simon has a tragic romantic history. His fiancée, Lena, had been violently raped. Despite marriage, she deteriorated and died. Simon refuses himself any relationships with women, however transitory, in Lena’s memory. He and Frances begin to have sex, in the sense of a friend helping out another.
Oestend had always had supernatural problems. Wraiths have made homesteading nearly impossible. However, the land is becoming more and more unpredictable. Weather and animals are all acting unnaturally, even by Oestend standards. During a lightning storm Cami breaks a lamp in her room. While Dante rushes in to help her, he sees her secret. Cami has male genitalia.
Despite Cami’s fears, Dante has no problems accepting Cami as a woman and wants her to stay at his ranch. In time, Dante realizes he is becoming attracted to the masculine aspects of her body as well as falling in love with the woman who tells him stories in front of the fire at night. They start a relationship and are very happy. Oestend does not allow them the luxury of staying on the ranch. It becomes unsafe to stay. Dante won’t risk Cami’s safety and Simon won’t risk Frances’. They retreat to Bar-Chi, which is strangely safe and free of supernatural problems. Dante is forced to work with everyone to be able to return to his ranch, keep the woman he loves, and save Oestend.
I would be hard pressed to find a book in which the characters every day lives are more affected by death than this one. A significant portion of this book is comprised of Dante dealing emotionally with the deaths that occurred in the previous. Song of Oestend not only chronicles the hardships of ranching on Oestend, but a particularly violent and tragic time. I found the grief to be essential. It would not have been believable for any of the characters to shrug off their emotional burdens and just move on. In addition to the literal death, Dante had to deal with the figurative death of his hopes and dreams of a life with Deacon. Any relationship Dante pursued with Cami before he addressed his personal losses would have been built on a false foundation and not have rung true.
As a reader I want an HEA for everyone. I’m aware this is unrealistic and doesn’t always make for good reading let alone believable reading. Simon and Frances end this book as permanent partners in a lasting relationship. In some ways I felt Simon would never be able to give Frances exactly what he needed. I wanted more for Frances. The ultimate solution to their partnership fit the story and the characters. It would have been wrong for Simon to suddenly be someone he wasn’t. It would have been false despite my desire to have a perfect HEA. And really, Frances seems happy enough so I shouldn’t judge.
I have very mixed emotions about the resolution of the book. All the significant characters have an opportunity to solve Oestend’s supernatural problems once and for all. They can put the wraiths to rest. As a survivor of the Ainuai genocide, Olsa is against this. She is, appropriately, righteously pissed off still and has no desire to make the land easier for her oppressors to inhabit. In time, she relents and helps the six main characters of the series create a way to give peace to the land. They embark on their journey, perform their ritual songs, then have a big sexual healing six-way on top of the Ainuai holy mountain. Personally, I don’t feel the six-way fit the story at all. Saviours of Oestend was comprised of characters slowly coming to realizations for a significant portion of the book, then the end “healed” all the remaining hurt feelings in one big night of sex. For me, the ending soured an otherwise great book.
Rated 4 stars by Faye