Mending FencesAuthor Livia J. Washburn's prose is engaging, seemingly flowing onto the page with an un-self-conscious strength that lulls readers into the tale like a river might carry a raft. There is comfort in that kind of book: Readers disappear into another time and place, into someone else's life, with never a worry rapids lurk just around the next bend.

That is not to say there's no excitement in the story -- plenty of excitement adorns the pages. What readers won't find is the type of over-the-top depictions of love and romance they might expect in a romance novel. Emotions ring true for both main characters without ever seeming overwrought. Men who read westerns but eschew romance novels probably will enjoy this one.

Romance writers and western novelists alike will identify with Brianna, who is excruciatingly conscious of the flowery language and outlandish storylines upon which her successful career is based. The juxtaposition of Brianna's style with Reasoner's only emphasizes the effortless relationship Reasoner apparently has with words. Amusingly, not until the Big Love Scene at the very end does the story succumb to a few tricks of the romance-writing trade.

The sense of time and place in Mending Fences is extraordinary. Details are engrossing but not overwhelming, and they're never academic. For humor, adventure, family drama, and the pure joy of an effortless read, I highly recommend the book.

Disorderly Words, (review from