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Review - Cloaked - Little Red Riding Hood in the Wild West

Little red riding hood
(Not the real cover.)  You can check out
the cover art and pre-order the book here!
Little Red Riding Hood meets classic Western - what a cool idea!  I was excited to read Cloaked, because I love LRRH, and fairy tales and Westerns are two of the best storytelling genres out there.  Since LRRH already has some Western elements (woods and wolves!), I was curious how the two would merge in this retelling.

The story begins with Mary Rose O'Brien boarding a stagecoach to visit her grandmother.  Mary Rose is extremely nervous because she's never met her grandma Jubilee before, yet her parents are hoping that, by making a good impression, she will mend the long rift between Mary Rose's father and Jubilee.  To make matters worse, her traveling companions are a rough-looking laborer and an over-friendly bookkeeper, and she is not sure she can trust either of them.  Mary Rose is hoping for some adventures at her grandma's Wyoming ranch, but when she arrives, she has no idea just how exciting life there will be.

Right off the bat, the narrative pulled me in with its concise, descriptive writing and easy tone.  It felt almost like watching an episode of The Virginian (my favorite classic Western show).  The light humor was enjoyable, and Mary Rose is a likeable heroine from "back East."  She's kind of the quintessential Awkward Girl, but she's no Mary Sue, either, as she has to strive to fit in at a new place and win Jubilee over.  I liked the back-story Kovaciny created for the two of them; it gave LRRH an additional obstacle to overcome, while their friendship was just a given in the original tale.

Though Mary Rose is a well-rounded character, I would have liked to see more character development for Linden and Small, instead of having to take them as "bad guy" and "good guy" at face value.  Also, there was more romance in the story than I was expecting, and as it went on, I wasn't sure if I was really the intended audience.  (Nothing against romance, I'm just more into adventure plots.)  On the plus side, it challenged Mary Rose to be brave and stand up for herself.  This would be an excellent read for young girls, with a message of following your intuition and trusting to God instead of Prince Charming.

Overall, I enjoyed Cloaked and would recommend it to anyone 10+ looking for a fun, romantic Western tale.  This is the first book in the author's Once Upon a Western series, and I look forward to reading more!

I received a free advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

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