“The Dumont Brand” by Kathleen Rice Adams

“The Dumont Brand” by Kathleen Rice Adams combines two short stories about the Collier family of Texas before and after the Civil War. In “The Big Uneasy,” Patriarch Edson Collier has arranged a marriage between his eldest son, Bennett and Josephine Lapierre, a southern belle of New Orleans. Edson is ill and wants to see Bennett settled and producing heirs before he passes away. Josephine is willing to travel to Texas and marry a man she doesn't know; she's fleeing from her own past. When she arrives, Edson's younger son, Amon escorts her to the Collier home. She finds herself falling for her intended's brother. The Collier family has skeletons in their closets and Bennett has political aspirations. When he returns home to marry Josephine and the bones come crashing out of their hiding places, it's too much for him and he stalks off cursing his family and vowing never to step foot on the property again. It leaves Jospehine and Amon free to marry. When we meet Bennett again in “Making Peace,” he has been ravaged by war as a Confederate soldier. He returns to the Collier place, and finds Maggie Fannin squatting on a piece of their land. He regrets his actions toward his family before the war, and he's taken with Maggie. He overlooks her past; he wouldn't have been capable of that before the war. He helps rebuild the shack she's claimed as her home, and she gives him the strength to face his family.

Kathleen Rice Adams told Edson's story cleverly and with emotion. His deep affection for Jenny, a woman of color was obvious. It was not merely a sexual convenience, it was an affair of the heart. In the time frame of the story that made him a strong man. The relationships between the Collier men were layered and complicated. It teetered so that I couldn't decide if it was love or hate. Loyalty was a constant. In the first story I was drawn to Amon and liked his character. It was difficult to like Bennett, even though there were reasons for his behavior. The second story put a new perspective on Bennett and compelled me to forgive him for his previous actions. The romance between Amon and Josephine was light and sweet, but Maggie and Bennett were sizzling and intense. The two stories were a perfect combination and complimented each other well. I highly enjoyed “The Dumont Brand” and recommend Kathleen Rice Adams.