Book Review: An Untamed Land

An Untamed Land, the first of a series of six historical novels by Lauraine Snelling, describes the sacrifices, courage and dedication of America’s early settlers.

In 1880, Roald and Ingeborg Bjorklund and their little son leave their home and loved ones in Norway to seek free land in America. With them are Roald’s brother and pregnant wife.

The ocean passage is difficult, made even more so by the early birth of the baby. They finally arrive on the docks of New York city. The brothers work to earn money for the next phase of their journey. They save enough to purchase tickets on a series of trains that get them closer to their destination. Finally, they take a covered wagon for a rough overland journey to Dakota Territory. They settle on acreage along the banks of the Red River of the North.

The families find the Dakota Territory land harsh and difficult to plow, especially without the conveniences of more modern equipment, that though available is unaffordable for them. They live in the wagon, cooking on an open fire until they can build a soddy—a house made of sod bricks consisting of grass and densely packed roots that hold the soil together. By the time winter arrives, the six of them live in the cramped structure, thankful to be out of the bitter cold weather.

With grinding hard work the two families begin to build their adjacent farms, always working toward “proving up the land” accomplished by building a home and cultivating the land.

Our American pioneers are a constant inspiration to me: their hardships, their strong religious faith even in the face of tragedy, their struggle to bring civilization into their lives with schools and churches, and their never-ending toil with crops, livestock and weather. The Bjorklund families experienced sickness and death, but still they endured.

Lauraine Snelling, the prolific multi-award winning author of An Untamed Land (Red River North #1) has had more than 80 books published and her books are available in several languages. To learn more about this author, visit

Book Review: No Escape: The Sweetwater Tragedy

no-escape-coverWhen Susan Cameron arrives in Sweetwater Valley, Wyoming, she is full of hope for her new life. At last, she will answer to no one but herself–she is free to pursue her dream of owning her own land and making her own choices. She gets off to a rocky start, but undaunted, doggedly follows her plan to file for her own section of land. Along the way, she meets Michael O’Brien who shows a romantic interest in her. Susan, however, meets Michael’s every effort with frosty response. This is her time to prove herself and nothing, no one, will deter her.

Early on, Susan has the good fortune to meet her generous and helpful neighboring homesteaders, Ella and her husband Jim. Susan soon learns that cattlemen are actively making life miserable for homesteaders. The free grazing land cattlemen have used for years is being “ruined” by homesteaders’ houses, fences and crops, tying up precious water resources. The lawlessness and tragedy that follow is a bleak part of western history.

This excellent historical novel, No Escape: The Sweetwater Tragedy, by Jean Henry Mead, is based on an actual 1889 Wyoming incident involving the vigilante hangings of Ellen “Ella” Watson-Averell and her husband, James. The homesteaders were falsely accused of running a “brawdy” house” in exchange for rustled cattle. To carry the story, the author has drawn a fictitious character, a composite of thousands of single women who attempted to prove up on homesteads, some successfully, some not.

Versatile author Jean Henry Mead’s impeccable research is evident in this gripping fast-paced tale.

No Escape: The Sweetwater Tragedy by Jean Henry Mead is available in e-book and print formats.