Title: Before Sundown
Author: Lisa Worrall
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages
At a Glance: Overall, I enjoyed this story and would definitely recommend it.
Reviewed By: Lynn
Blurb: Samuel Somerfield is used to the oppressive heat of the Texas plains, and in the year 1892 things get even hotter when ranch hand Eli Watkins walks onto the job. Every stolen glance, every searing touch from Eli tilts Samuel’s world on its axis. He wants only to spend the rest of his life in Eli’s arms. But Samuel’s cruel and domineering father has other plans for him. Samuel must marry Eleanor Johnston and give his father the social standing he craves.
Eli knew falling in love with Samuel would cause problems, yet even he never dreamed Mr. Somerfield would go to such lengths to keep his son and him apart. After Somerfield orders a beating that leaves Eli disfigured and embarrassed, Eli takes a job on another ranch far from Samuel.
News of Samuel’s impending wedding eventually reaches Eli, and he realizes he must return to the man he loves, despite what might await him, and try to save Samuel from a life he was not meant to live.
Review: I’ve read books by this author before and have always enjoyed her stories. The same can be said for Before Sundown; though, while I liked the story, I felt it lacked some of the substance incorporated in her other work, as well as the ambiance of a true historical.
The story begins when Eli starts working on a ranch and meets the owner’s son, Samuel. It was love/lust at first sight. I would have liked a little more character building here. Eli and Samuel were together almost from page one. They were never a separate entity, they just were. As a result, I felt I never got a chance to really know them enough to be invested, beyond thinking they were both adorable and likable.
As the story unfolds, we learn Samuel is to be married. The marriage is pre-arranged and he feels there’s no way out. At the center of all this is Samuel’s father, a despicable character who abuses his authority over his son in the most heinous ways. In some of the reviews I’ve read, there were questions as to why Samuel didn’t just leave. For me, I got a sense of obligation from Samuel. Even though his father was physically and psychologically abusive towards him, there was an underlying sense of duty. This was his lot in life, and he went along with it to keep the peace and maybe finally get his father’s approval and love. He really saw no way out until Eli came along. I really felt bad for Samuel. I didn’t see him as weak, just conflicted. On one hand, he knew who he was and what he wanted, on the other, his need to obey his father took precedence over anything he may have wanted for himself. Although we didn’t really know, this point was clear. And maybe that’s all we needed to know about him.
I mentioned before I didn’t feel as though this was a true historical. Let me explain. When I read a story set in a 1892, I want to feel as though I’m there. The sights and sounds, the dialogue, the cultural attitudes and understandings of the day—I want to be completely immersed in that world. With Before Sundown, I felt it could have taken place in modern day, about any wealthy family in the 21st century. Except for the horse drawn wagons, there was nothing significant tying the story to the late 1800s
The storyline, while not unique, was enjoyable to read. I feel the author did a wonderful job throwing a wrench into the mix, which I didn’t expect. Very pleasant surprise. At times I was on the edge of my seat, wondering if we were getting a happily-ever-after, or a kick to the gut. Of course, I kind of guessed how it would end, but there was still that little something in the back of my head that made me feel like this could really go either way. Kudos to the author for that.
I loved Eli and Samuel’s love for each other. It happened quickly, and I’m okay with that. It was raw, passionate, and exciting. The author definitely made it real for us. And also, an honorable mention going out to two characters, Isaac and Jackson. I was not expecting their story at all. And even though we really don’t know too much about them, they played a big part in the story and I loved them for it.
Overall, I enjoyed this story and would definitely recommend it.
You can buy Before Sundown here: