Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sea of Grass by Kate Sweeney

Publisher:              Intaglio Publications

Anyone who has ever been to the "Big Sky" country of Montana will understand why the title Sea of Grass is so appropriate to this book.  Spread between the majestic peaks of the Rocky Mountains, the rolling fields sometimes resemble waves of green.  The setting of the book is as important to the story as any of the characters.

Professor Tess Rawlins' family has owned the Double R cattle ranch for five generations and has kept not only the ranch but the local town going through everything from depression to the changes of modern times.  When she receives word that her father needs her help, Tess doesn't hesitate to leave her career and her lover behind.  She returns to a world and problems that she no longer thought were hers.  The days of the old fashioned cattle ranch and the long drive of the herds to market seem to be coming to an end and the greedy land developer in town, who has always hated her family, can't wait to get his hands on the Rawlins property.  Tess thinks that at the age of forty-nine, her life is settled, but that's all about to change.  She has to find a way to care for her father, save the ranch and maybe solve a mystery that has tormented her family for years.  The only thing that she allows to distract her is Claire Redmond.  Claire and her son Jack have arrived to take up temporary residence at the ranch while she fills in for the cook/housekeeper.  As Tess struggles to save her family's heritage, she also has to deal with her growing attraction to Claire and her interest in helping Jack develop into the man he wants to become.  The saying is that "love conquers all."  That is surely tested as Tess and Claire have to deal with numerous obstacles.

Kate Sweeney has created a story that seems to exist in two different time periods.  There is a definite feel for the old west when cowboys on horseback still herded cattle, branded them and rounded them up for the drive to market.  Then there is the modern world where life and techniques are changing and intruding on the old ways.  These two worlds are blended together to create a unique setting where the reader can easily lose track of what time period it is.  The beauty and isolation of the scenery contributes to this feeling and the reader can get absorbed into the vastness that is still Montana.

Sea of Grass is meant to be a romance, but it's also a mystery with some adventure included.  It shows a classic confrontation between old and new values and it's a nature study.  When it's all put together, the reader is left with an excellent story with which to spend some time.

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