Rio Hondo Cover

Rio Hondo

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Three Rivers Trilogy, Book 3
Western / Historical Fiction / Action & Adventure
Publisher: Five Star
Publication Date: May 18, 2022
Pages: 373 pages
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Image of Rio Hondo cover.

With the embers of the Lincoln County War still burning, rancher Wes Bracken must rebuild his life amid the white-hot animosities lingering from the deadly feud. His vengeful brother-in-law vows to kill him, the county’s economic kingpin seeks revenge, and the despicable outlaw Jesse Evans, who violated Bracken’s wife, intends to murder Bracken and his young family. Two promises complicate Bracken’s survival chances: a pledge not to kill his wife’s brother and a commitment to help William H. Bonney earn a governor’s pardon for his crimes.

To survive and fulfill his dream of a peaceful life in 1880s New Mexico Territory, Bracken must fight a corrupt legal system, a duplicitous governor, a ubiquitous political ring, and the evil Jesse Evans. If Bracken keeps his promises to his wife and Billy the Kid, he risks an early grave in the same soil that holds so many of the Lincoln County War’s dead. If he ignores those pledges, he will dishonor the good name he hopes to build his future upon.

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Clueless Gent’s Rating for Rio Hondo

5 star rating

Rio Hondo brings to an end the Three Rivers Trilogy by author Preston Lewis. In the Dedication, Lewis dedicated this final installment to his father, who died in 2020. I can’t think of a better way to honor a loved one than by dedicating such an exceptional story to them. In my mind, I can picture the author’s father, along with Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (assuming he’s up there) looking down from above and smiling their approval.

This final third of the trilogy continues shortly after the previous one ends. (However, I can attest that it is definitely a stand alone story.) The reader catches up to Wes Bracken, his wife and children, and his partner Jace Cousins, as they continue to try and live peaceful lives in the corrupt Lincoln County in the New Mexico Territory. William H. Bonney (a.k.a. Billy the Kid) returns to try and right some of the wrongs he previously endured in Lincoln County.

A special bond exists between Bonney and Bracken – the only man Bonney trusts. When a new governor is appointed over the territory – Governor Lew Wallace, there is hope that justice will come to Lincoln County, and Bracken is determined to see that Bonney gets fair treatment from the law. Then a new sheriff is elected – Pat Garrett – and hope for peace and righteousness continues to rise. However, as Wes Bracken continues to remind himself, this IS Lincoln County.

I admit that I am enthralled with historical fiction. I love when an author combines the real with the conjured. For instance, Lew Wallace actually did govern the New Mexico Territory from 1878 to 1881. In the scene where Bracken first meets Wallace, the governor is busy working on his current novel, a book with the title of Ben-Hur. After a little investigation, I was delighted to discover this was also a fact. I loved the way Lewis worked that little tidbit into the story!

“Finding Bonney’s like chasing the wind. You know it’s there, but you can’t always see it, unless it kicks up dust.”

—Sheriff Pat Garrett

Having read one of the other books in this trilogy, I can clearly say that the writing excellence continues. The author fully engages the reader with a storyline that is both captivating and appealing. How many of us have been wronged by someone and then hope that the wrongdoer is brought to justice? Anyone with those feelings can fully empathize with the main characters in this story.

I felt fully immersed in this story predominantly because of the author’s keen use of description. For example: “The ragged country ran brown with a thirst broken only by the meager creeks that snaked between the rolling hills and the peaks that glowered into the sky, some crests sporting a cap of snow that glistened in the morning sunlight.”

The pacing is very consistent throughout the story. It’s not edge-of-your-seat consistent, but more like keep-turning-pages consistent. Further, I wouldn’t say that the climax packs a mean punch, but I will say that the climax is satisfying; at least it was to me.

If you were to read this story, I’m pretty confident in saying that you’d enjoy it. However, if you were to read one or both of the other books in the trilogy first, you’d likely enjoy it even more!

My congrats to author Preston Lewis on a well-done trilogy!

I received a free copy of Rio Hondo from Lone Star Book Blog Tours in exchange for my honest review. Opinions expressed are my own.

the Author

Preston Lewis Author Photo

Preston Lewis is the Spur-Award-winning author of over forty westerns, historical novels, juvenile books, and memoirs. He has received national awards for his novels, articles, short stories, and humor. In 2021 he was inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters for his literary accomplishments. Lewis is past president of Western Writers of America and the West Texas Historical Association.
His historical novel Blood of Texas earned a Spur Award as did his True West article on the Battle of Yellow House Canyon. He developed the Memoirs of H.H. Lomax series, which includes two Spur finalists and three Will Rogers Medallion Awards (WRMA) for western humor. Lewis has received two Will Rogers Gold Medallion Awards for his short stories. The Fleecing of Fort Griffin and two of his YA novels have won Elmer Kelton Awards for best creative work on West Texas from the West Texas Historical Association.
Lewis began his writing career working for Texas daily newspapers in Abilene, Waco, Orange, and Lubbock before going into university administration. During his thirty-five-year career in higher education, he directed communications and marketing offices at Texas Tech University, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, and Angelo State University.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Baylor University and master’s degrees from Ohio State in journalism and from Angelo State in history. He lives in San Angelo, Texas, with his wife, Harriet.
Each receives an autographed copy of Rio Hondo!
(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 8/12/22.)
Rio Hondo tour giveaway graphic. Prizes to be awarded precede this image in the post text.
Or, visit the participating blogs directly:
8/2/22 Excerpt Chapter Break Book Blog
8/2/22 BONUS Promo Hall Ways Blog
8/3/22 Review Julia Picks 1
8/3/22 BONUS Promo LSBBT Blog
8/4/22 Author Interview All the Ups and Downs
8/5/22 Review The Clueless Gent
8/6/22 Scrapbook Page Sybrina’s Book Blog
8/7/22 Excerpt StoreyBook Reviews
8/8/22 Review Reading by Moonlight
8/9/22 Author Interview Shelf Life Blog
8/10/22 Review Rox Burkey Blog
8/11/22 Review Jennie Reads
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