Grace and the Guiltless by Erin Johnson

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Grace and the Guiltless by Erin Johnson

Publisher: Switch Press
Publication Date: August 1, 2014
Pages: 272
Source: publisher in exchange for honest review
Buy It: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Grace Milton's peaceful life with her family on a horse ranch outside Tombstone, Arizona is shattered in one devastating night. Her family is brutally murdered by the notorious Guiltless Gang, leaving Grace the only survivor. Trekking into the wilderness on her stallion, Grace falls ill from the elements. A young man name Joe saves her life by taking her to an Apache camp where she learns about their way of life and begins to fall for Joe. When Grace encounters one of the Guiltless Gang, her strength will be tested. Can she survive as a bounty hunter, or will she fall into darkness again? This Western revenge epic will captivate teen readers with its ruthless spirit of suspense and adventure and a powerful central romance. --Goodreads
Welcome to the Wild West.  The beginning serves as a rather rude welcoming for readers when Grace’s whole family is murdered in cold blood.  Grace is left all alone.  She doesn’t know much about surviving in the wilderness or shooting a gun but she does know that she must seek revenge for her family.  She embarks on a journey to find the Guiltless Gang—the people who killed her family—and find the justice she deserves.

In truth, I have never read a western before Grace and the Guiltless.  Something about the setting, the horseback riding, the cowboys—it never really appealed to me.  However, it is always good to try new things and when I picked up Grace, it was a pleasant surprise.  The novel had all the ingredients for a perfect Western: the cowboys, the Indians, the guns, the horses, and even the ranch away from town.  However, Erin Johnson brought a non-stop rollercoaster ride that does not give readers time to breathe.  The show starts from page one, with Grace’s family being murdered, and the action doesn’t end until the last page.

Grace follows in the footsteps of books like The Hunger Games and Divergent with an incredibly strong female protagonist, taking both the figurative and literal reins of her own story.  Grace has guts and is driven on her journey by her family’s deaths.  Readers may find her want for revenge, and the mention of her journey, a bit overplayed in the novel.  The constant action keeps the plot moving and keeps readers from being too annoyed.  I do understand that Grace has lost her entire family; it is extremely natural to seek revenge.  Still, Johnson could have withheld the repeated mention of “my family’s dead, got to avenge them” and “can’t be happy, got to go and get revenge.”

Despite the repetition of the main goal of the novel, Grace is a never-ending adventure that everyone can enjoy.  From younger YA to adults, readers will not want to stop reading this fantastic thrill set in the Wild West

And what would a novel set in the Wild West be without romance? Yes, there is romance!  I wasn’t expecting it.  Erin Johnson cleverly draws her romance which leaves readers wanting more.  It is the sort of romance that gradually becomes more beautiful as more pages are turned.  It is both realistic and so natural. 

I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series, Her Cold Revenge, to find out what happens next.  There wasn’t as much as a cliffhanger as I would have hoped but, in this case, it was better to end the way it had been.  Johnson created some suspense, while still keeping within Grace’s character.

Erin Johnson’s Grace and the Guiltless is a continuous horse-back ride through the Wild West that will keep your heart pounding way past the last page.  

Grace and the Guiltless (8/1/14): 4 stars
Her Cold Revenge (8/1/15): 4 stars

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