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Reviewed by Paul F. Murray for Readers' Favorite
Melinda Gamble is a young, idealistic schoolmarm who takes a job in Idaho 3,000 miles away from her hometown, Boston. In Idaho, early on Melinda has an unpleasant encounter with outlaws who rob a bank where she is in the process of completing a transaction. This gives Melinda a first-hand picture of just how wild the Wild West can truly be and the impression that her dime novel understanding of the West may have a basis in fact. Melinda’s most problematic student, Jenny, a middle-grade schooler, is the daughter of a cattle rancher named Gilbert, whom Melinda meets quite accidentally by (horrors!) displaying her ankle at a stream. Gilbert is quite the hostile, hateful misanthrope when Melinda first meets him. However, Melinda has to deal with Gilbert since, as Jenny’s teacher, she is working to help Jenny repair her wounded self-image.
Melinda and the Wild West by Linda Weaver Clarke is a warm, tender love story for readers who like to follow how two people can gradually move from disliking each other, indeed, hating each other, into genuine love. How Melinda works to turn Jenny from a spiteful brat into a student who loves school and her teacher could work well as a model for any young person aspiring to be a teacher, coach or counselor. It will be a good read for teens and adults who enjoy basic, clean romance. Readers of Western and romance fiction alike will enjoy Melinda and the Wild West. The novel is a warm and fuzzy romance that harkens back to the time when romance fiction was all about love and how it develops, without being graphic about it.