Ellie Fountain is the apple of her father, Ben’s eye. Her mother died young and she has grown up as his right hand man in his attempt to make their ranch, Fountainhead, one of the most successful in the territory.
Ellie may have tended toward tomboyish ways as she grew up in a world populated by ranch hands, but she loved it. Life wasn’t always easy, but Ellie and Ben managed well between them, until a stranger rode over the hill and asked Ben for work.
From that first day, Ellie felt Tyler Bishop was a threat. Ben embraced him and his abilities like a son, even deferring to him on the future of the ranch. Ellie tried even harder to keep her father’s attention, but suddenly, he changed. He began insisting she behave more like a lady, wore feminine clothes and stopped hanging round so much with the ranch hands.
But this was Ellie’s life and Ben’s attitude only confused her and she felt pushed aside, by a man with an unknown past. A man whose motives were surely to get his hands on her Pa’s ranch and his money, not caring what happened to Ellie.
What her Pa also seemed to forget, were there were others in the district who cast covetous eyes on Fountainhead. The Bryants were a bad, father and twin sons both, who took a delight in taunting Ellie with the fact they intended running her and Ben from their land.
Pa told her to leave the Bryants to him and Ty Bishop to sort out, but Fountainhead was her inheritance, her life and she wasn’t going to trust it all to a drifter like Bishop. No matter how attractive he was and with that winning way of looking at her which made her insides melt. He wasn’t going to get the better of her that’s for sure.
So after the Bryant boy’s latest prank, Ellie decides she’s going to defend Fountainhead herself and not only goes to buy a gun, but takes herself off into the woods to learn how to use it. And if she has to, she will; whether it’s against the Bryants, or even Ty Bishop if he tries to take Fountainhead from her.
But when a series of odd things happen, Ellie is forced to look at her enemies in a different light and the lines between the two become clouded. Trust becomes harder when she doesn’t know who is on her side.
And those dresses Pa keeps going on about? Well, perhaps they aren’t so bad after all. Ty certainly seemed to like what he saw when he took her to the social in town. Not that she went with him to impress him, but you have to keep your enemies where you can see what they are up to.
Sparta Rose is a story filled with all the flint and vinegar of the old west, with some healthy ambition, jealousy and revenge thrown in. The bad guys are unredeemable, well some of them, and Ellie Fountain is the heroine we all want to be. Beautiful, modest, courageous, determined and ambitious. But at her core is her love for her father and her home. As the story unfolds, and Ellie fights for her future, she becomes the woman she didn’t know she wanted to be, and finds an ally in a man she didn’t realise she wanted.
Ginger Simpson’s Sparta Rose, is a delight and just the thing to curl up with in front of the fire on a winter’s night. I promise you will hear the jingle of a bridle and smell wet leather as you read.
Review by Anita Davison