Friends In Deed
By Randall Dale
Genre: Western, Christian Fiction
We fell in love with the young, hard-working Richardson family from Clovis, New Mexico and their good friend Jake, the artist, in Dale’s first book, Cowboy Up. Dale continues his fast paced writing in the next book of the series, Friends in Deed.
When Ricky’s beloved wife Jessie is rushed to the hospital, her life hanging by a thread, Ricky is beside himself. He has never had such severe challenges. Good friends make the difference but soon the tables are turned and he is called on to make the difference in other’s lives.
If you liked Book One, you’ll love Book Two. If you haven’t read Book One, don’t let that stop you because this is a new plot. You’ll be on the edge of your seat as Jessie fights for life. You’ll feel for Ricky, so worried about his beautiful wife. You’ll see the impact good friends can have when they are needed, and you’ll be amazed at the influence an honest cowboy and his artist friend can have on others.
Dale continues the story of Ricky, Jessie, Jake and of course Pardner while introducing several new characters in such a way that you know them intimately. One thing for certain, by the end you will have laughed, cried and cheered.
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When I decided to read this book, I honestly thought I would be diving into a book about the life of a rancher, and although there was plenty of information and activity regarding that particular subject, this book pleasantly surprised me with its focus on friendship, family and the things that matter most in this life.
This story line encompasses several characters and each of their points of view. With so many characters to follow you might think it impossible for the author to provide us ample opportunity to grow to love them all, but Randall Dale really did a nice job with that.
At first I worried with so many story lines involved if the author really had a firm grasp of which story he wanted to tell, but it all weaves together so beautifully in the middle and then carries on to a wonderful finish.
One thing I want to call special attention to is the author’s obvious passion about art. Authors use their words to paint a picture of scenery, atmosphere, physical aspects of others and to grasp the interplay between their characters. I’ve never read a book where an author used his words to paint a picture of a picture…more specifically paintings. When the reader is first introduced to the painting of Ramon standing in the rain the author could have simply told the reader what the painting looked like, but his words managed to portray so much more. I could see the painting in my mind’s eye, the emotion the cowboy exuded at the first sign of rain, and I honestly had the most overwhelming desire to leave my house and go visit an art gallery.
I wanted to experience that emotional shift Flemming Dubois had when he saw that painting for the first time. I wanted that emotional, life-altering epiphany to unfold like a story rather than a picture I might casually glance at and then walk away from. These paintings held such symbolism and meaning for the individuals Jake gave them to and for the messages and themes explored throughout the book. Loyalty, friendship, the cowboy way, the attention to life’s most important lessons-it was all there with each new painting Jake created and the author brought that home to me. I couldn’t help but shed a few tears because of it.
All of these characters have flaws and they are each given opportunities to overcome them. Ricky must learn to accept help and offer love even in the face of his wife’s possible death. Dubois must change his outlook on life, money, and the value of human decency. He learns to treat people as valuable beings rather than people he owns because of money, and by doing so he finds freedom with friends who care about him regardless of his wealth. Jake must learn that having fun and hurting others are not two activities that should ever coincide with one another. He must discover his own worth both as an artist and as a human being before he can pursue happiness with someone special. All the while Jake’s beautiful paintings act as landmarks for the lessons learned along the way.
I would suggest to the author that he pay special attention to his tendency to head jump within a scene. We go from one point of view to the other within the same scene and each point of view needs to be broken up into separate scenes. There are also a few moments in the beginning where there was more telling instead of showing, but these are all things that can be improved upon with a few revisions. The author has a natural flair for painting a picture with eloquent phrasing, and I only see him getting better and better as he continues on with his writing journey.
Though there are a few formatting issues and a few technical aspects to the author’s writing that need some improvement it doesn’t take away from the beauty of this narrative, and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to read it.
I highly recommend Friends in Deed for those of you who wish to take a few moments out of your busy schedules to enjoy the simple beauties that life has to offer. I think most readers will hold their loved ones a little closer and speak with a little more kindness after reading this wonderful book.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Randall Dale grew up in a ranching family. No stranger to long days in the saddle, he draws heavily on his experiences to bring a new breed of western novels. Randall is a graduate of the University of Arizona. He is a devoted family man and a successful businessman with a flair for writing and an interest in all things western. He currently lives in rural southeastern Arizona with his wife. They enjoy spending time with their children and grandchildren.
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