Orphan Moon

Orphan Moon


Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
316 Pages
Reviewed on 06/24/2015
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

As a young girl, there were two things in T.K. Lukas' life: books and horses. And mostly, the books she read were about horses. As she journeyed through life, she wore many hats, high heels, and boots until finding her way home: ballroom dance instructor, US Air Force Air Traffic Controller (followed by a stint with the FAA), horse trainer, co-owner of a tree company, returning college student, REALTOR, free-lance journalist, and finally, full-time novelist. Now, the circle complete, she once again focuses on the two things (er, three things) she loves: horses, books, and her husband and family, not necessarily in that order.

T.K.’s life experiences and world travels fuel the native Texan's ever-expanding imagination that she pours into everything she writes. Combining history with fiction, fact with fantasy, she delivers stories that, at some point along the narrative, always have horses making their presence known.

T.K. and her husband live in north-central Texas on a small ranch they share with a variety of four-legged friends: equine, canine, feline, and bovine. Their three grown children are scattered across the globe. When not on horseback, T.K. enjoys international travel, snow skiing, photography, and collecting antique deviled egg plates. (The egg plates are a long story—feel free to email her at tanya@tklukas.com for that explanation. She’ll be delighted to share it with you, along with some favorite deviled egg recipes!)

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

Orphan Moon: The Orphan Moon Trilogy, Volume 1 is a historical coming of age story written by T.K. Lukas. Barleigh Flanders was nineteen years old when her family's ranch in Texas was burned to the ground by a raiding party of Indians in September of 1860. Her father, Henry, had prepared for just such an event by digging out a hidden cellar in their goat shed, but only Barleigh, her Aunt Winnie, and her new baby sister were able to reach the hidden shelter in time. The bodies of Birdie, Henry's second wife, Uncle Jack and Henry were found among the smoking ruins of their farmstead the next morning. The Indians had taken the family's horses, but their cattle had been shot and left for dead. Barleigh's plans to rebuild and restock the ranch are shattered when Mr. Goldthwaite at the bank tells her that Henry's savings will not cover the taxes that he owed. He could cover those bills providing that Barleigh marry him and sign over the land to him. Barleigh's got a better idea. On her way to the bank, a flyer had been caught up in a gust of wind and landed at her feet. The Pony Express needed boy riders and orphans were preferred. Barleigh's mother died in childbirth and, with Henry's untimely passing, she fitted the job requirements -- if only she were a boy.

T.K. Lukas' historical coming of age story, Orphan Moon: The Orphan Moon Trilogy, Volume 1, is well-plotted, meticulously researched and very entertaining. Barleigh is a marvelous character who is strong, independent and convinced that she can overcome the obstacles to her plans for her sister's and her future. I was spellbound reading about her solitary horseback trip to apply for the job in Missouri, and loved reading about the tryouts for the jobs. Lukas carefully weaves historical data about the cultural limitations and challenges women and slaves faced in the late 1800s into her story. She also covers the role of secessionists in fomenting violence that would be blamed on Indian tribes, as well as detailing their attempts to block the mail from reaching the west coast. The real high points of this book for me, however, were found in Lukas' masterful and exciting descriptions of the Pony Express rides undertaken by Bar and her friend, Stoney Wooten, as they race to get the post through the roughest territories in the west, battling the weather and natural obstacles that made it even more challenging. Orphan Moon is a literate and beautifully written novel that's filled with action and adventure, and stars a most impressive role model in the strong and resourceful Barleigh Flanders. It's most highly recommended.

Valerie Rouse

Orphan Moon (Orphan Moon Trilogy Volume 1) is a fast paced story based on Barleigh Flanders. In the 1860s, Barleigh suffered a major tragedy when Indians attacked and killed her relatives on their rural farm. Barleigh made the decision to join the Pony Express as a mail carrier. She had devised a plan to make some money to pay the land taxes on the farm. She reckoned that she was physically strong enough to be a Pony Express rider. She disguised herself as a boy and got the job! Barleigh’s mother was not in good health. She begged her good friend Hughes Levesque to find Barleigh and look out for her.

Orphan Moon (Orphan Moon Trilogy Volume 1) is a remarkable book. It encapsulates the true strength of a female heroine. Most cowboy books have males as their main characters. What makes this book unique is that the persona is all female. What is ironic also is that Barleigh felt the need to present herself as a male to be accepted in that world of work. I love the fact that author T.K. Lukas showcased Barleigh’s gusto and desire to achieve her goals. This is inspiring, especially for all females. The language used is colloquial. The tone changes intermittently from carefree to emotionally intense, depending on the action that is unfolding. The author did an excellent job in developing the main characters. The thread of romance interwoven in the plot is a welcome distraction. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this entertaining novel.

Gisela Dixon

Orphan Moon (The Orphan Moon Trilogy) (Volume 1) by T.K. Lukas is a historical work of fiction set during the 19th century in the Wild West. The central protagonist in Orphan Moon is a 19-year-old girl named Barleigh Flanders. Barleigh was present during an Indian attack that left her with almost half of her family dead. Realizing that she needs money to raise her baby half-sister and to keep the ranch running, she comes up with a desperate, foolhardy plan that just might work. Her journey takes her through some of the Wild West’s most rugged frontiers from Texas to Utah. Along the way, she meets Hughes Levesque, who has been entrusted to protect her by a mysterious stranger from Barleigh's past. In doing so, Barleigh and Hughes set off a journey full of strife and adventure, and forge an unforgettable bond. This is a story of adventure, action, strife, and even love that gives us a realistic glimpse into a different century during the era of slavery.

Orphan Moon by T.K. Lukas is an extremely engaging, gritty, and realistic novel. I liked the character of Barleigh Flanders, a strong willed young woman who is daring and not afraid to take risks for the sake of family and land. I also appreciated the way in which this novel shows the stark reality of the 19th century where, along with the freedom and sheer beauty and ruggedness of the frontier lands, lies the legal institution of slavery with all of its unimaginable horrors. T.K. Lukas has done a brilliant job in vividly describing these scenes and it is one of those novels that provides a rare glimpse into life as it used to be. An excellent read and I am looking forward to the upcoming books in the trilogy.