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By: Natalie Dossett
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Publication Date: September 10, 2024
ISBN: 979-8891323384
Reviewed by: Lily Andrews
Review Date: July 1, 2024

In an era where everyone believed that a woman could do nothing without a man, one young woman is determined to beat these societal conventions and overcome unsurmountable odds to secure her future and her father's, and avenge the painful death of her brother.

Sarita by Natalie Dossett is a stirring tale that stays on key from the beginning to the end. Set in the 1920s in Texas, against the backdrop of major social-political turmoil, the story follows Sarita, a young woman, who has encountered loss one too many times. Her fiancée has disappeared without a trace, making her the town's gossip. When her mother dies, her plans to graduate also come to a halt, with her father preferring to have her stay at home and attend to household chores. Unlike many girls who prefer kitchen chores, Sarita desires to spend her time helping with the ranch work, saddling the horses, but her father always declines. She has always known that her 13-year-old brother JJ is her father's favorite, an awareness that lingers on even days after JJ is tragically shot dead by tequila smugglers in a robbery incident.

With her brother gone and Texas authorities reluctant to follow up on the case, opting instead to concentrate on more pressing lawbreaking issues, her life is suddenly upended. Grief casts a long shadow on the family with her father uncertain about the future, now that his son, who was of great help on their ranch, La Barroneña Ranch, is gone. Sarita fears her ailing dad will sell the ranch to an unrelenting oil marketer, seeking to take advantage of his helpless situation. Undaunted and daring, Sarita makes up her mind to go after the man behind her brother's death, a sadistic tequila smuggler, a task which, if not successful, will leave her dead. She also feels compelled to salvage what's left of their lives and ranch name, hoping to change her fate and have a better life.

Recalling Maude, a life-hardened widow's words: "Nothing worthwhile lands in your lap dipped in honey, sugar--you got to charge ahead and grab it," Sarita makes the arduous journey across the giant Rio Grande River, stepping into the dangerous world of cutthroats and bandits, a world she knows very little about. The stakes are high for the young girl's life and danger seems to always linger too close.

Coming in at 366 pages, Sarita is a sumptuous delight for the heart and soul and does not wear down with its chapters owing to its brisk and language-melding prose. The impressive additions of dialect richly give readers an illusion of the reality of the fictional characters in the story. This element further provides the geographical and social context of the story, adding a splash of entertainment to it. Sarita's laudable personality steals the show throughout the reading, and her chance encounters with danger make for wonderful plot twists. The writing is smooth and coherent, which elicits admiration for Dossett's storytelling. The author possesses a firm grasp of the landscapes and culture of the Wild West and strikingly demonstrates this through her narration.

Quill says: Natalie Dossett's latest offering is a worthy contender in a variety of genres, and will appeal to a diverse audience. For readers captivated by historical fiction with a touch of mystery and a strong female lead, Sarita will provide many hours of entertainment.

For more information on Sarita, please visit the publisher's website at:

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