The Last Woman Standing
by Thelma Adams
Publisher: Lake Union
Page Count: 300
Release Date: July 1, 2016
How got: ARC through Amazon Kindle First
First attention getter: the heroine
Two decades after the Civil War, Josephine Marcus, the teenage daughter of Jewish immigrants, is lured west with the promise of marriage to Johnny Behan, one of Arizona’s famous lawmen. She leaves her San Francisco home to join Behan in Tombstone, Arizona, a magnet for miners (and outlaws) attracted by the silver boom. Though united by the glint of metal, Tombstone is plagued by divided loyalties: between Confederates and Unionists, Lincoln Republicans and Democrats.
But when the silver-tongued Behan proves unreliable, it is legendary frontiersman Wyatt Earp who emerges as Josephine’s match. As the couple’s romance sparks, Behan’s jealousy ignites a rivalry destined for the history books…
At once an epic account of an improbable romance and a retelling of an iconic American tale, The Last Woman Standing recalls the famed gunfight at the O.K. Corral through the eyes of a spunky heroine who sought her happy ending in a lawless outpost—with a fierce will and an unflagging spirit.
Star Rating - 5
My only exposure to the personage of Josephine Marcus has been the movie of “Tombstone”. That portrayal intrigued me, this gal who doesn’t truck with the usual Victorian lady behavior but that blazes a trail all her own. Adams picks right up on that fantastic portrayal with a unique character voice and an intimate look at an American legend.
At first, Joe’s internal voice made me pause; she holds NOTHING back when it comes to her inner monologue. Everything from sex to personal impressions on the people she meets comes right thought her mind, and sometimes her mouth, with no filter. That’s refreshing amongst the abundance of very proper POVs in westerns and books set in this era.
I love Joe as a person, too. She’s an intriguing mix of innocence and brashness. Easily taken in by a charming smile and pretty face, she makes life decisions on the flimsiest of reasoning to detrimental effects at first. Facing all the challenges that come her way with a courageous spirit and pluck makes her someone I can relate to.
She itches for more out of life than hearth and home with an arranged marriage. Boy does she find it!! Shootouts, gangsters, threatened rape, death, and the dusty, arid world of Arizona greet her. However, she also finds the love of her life in the form of Wyatt Earp of the OK Corral fame. A man different than those she’d encountered before, he respects and honors her for who she is rather than the role she can fill for him. Their connection is immediate and emotionally resonant throughout the entire book.
Adams humanizes the Western legend of the OK Corral shootout and its aftermath with great skill. It wasn’t just bang, bang, legend born. There was buildup with strengthening tensions and animosity; the fallout had judicial and emotional elements. The rising tension and a town on the brink brought this action-filled and suspenseful world to life.
A great flesh out to a lesser known female Western figure, this book shines. A great setting and character voice make Josephine’s story unique; Adams draws her readers in and doesn’t let them go. After finishing this book, I had the sudden urge to re-watch “Tombstone”. I grew to appreciate this book all the more after finishing. What a tale!