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Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite
We’ve all seen and enjoyed that great movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but have you ever wondered what happened to the real woman, named Etta Place, from that movie? In her novel Miss Etta, author Deanna Lynn Sletten has given us a fictional account of who she may have been and what may have become of her following Butch and Sundance’s supposed demise. We will discover her life as a young woman before her chance encounter with the infamous outlaw, Harry Longabough, better known to history as the Sundance Kid. The author takes us through Etta’s eyes on a journey through the American West, to New York City and down to South America, where it is believed Butch and Sundance met their end. The story is told as flashbacks for Etta, who now lives quietly in a small mid-western town as Emily Pleasants, where she is a highly respected and loved schoolteacher. Yet all the while she is constantly aware that her past could catch up with her, knowing those famous Pinkerton detectives are still looking for the whereabouts of the criminal Etta Place.
Miss Etta is a truly sweeping novel that spans the decades and the country. Author Deanna Lynn Sletten has taken her beautiful lead character, Etta, and imbued her with the strength of character required not only to survive the trying times of living with two outlaws, but to overcome them with cheerfulness and hope for the future, despite the overwhelming odds. I particularly loved the moral dilemmas Etta faced in loving Sundance and Butch. Constantly all three of them found their lifestyles at odds with the morals drilled into them as children and with justifying what they were doing, when they all knew deep down it was wrong. Ultimately they all longed for a life where they could put the past behind them and begin again. I appreciated that when Etta was faced with the choice between the deep love she had for Sundance and any other option, it was always love that won out. At its core, this is a beautiful love story about family, about a deep, passionate love for one man, and life-long love and friendship for another. I did enjoy the sometimes jealous interplay between Butch and Sundance, both of whom loved Etta with all their hearts. This is a fantastic story, a great adventure, and a real joy to read. I highly recommend this book to all lovers of romance, action, adventure and history.