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Reviewed by Joanie Chevalier for Readers' Favorite
Rendezvous by Geoff Spellberg is a mesmerizing read, full of adventure, history, romance, danger, and fascinating storytelling. Rendezvous explores the world of the mountain men who worked in the fur-trading industry in the early 1800s. It is also a love story between Nate, a young Quaker man from Pennsylvania, and a beautiful Shoshone woman, Mailywa (Mae). The two met at Rendezvous, an annual gathering in the west of mountain men and Native Americans to meet, trade, buy supplies, drink whiskey, and perhaps to find a spouse. Nate, an educated man who read books around the fire to eager listeners, bravely leads Mae to safety after she is beaten by her husband, Black Peter. Even though Nate was not as tough as most of the mountain men, his caring and tender ways motivated Mae to stay with him. Through many trials, jealousy, the lure of luxury living and sinful ways of the big city, New Orleans, and the ever-present shadow of Black Peter chasing them to take revenge, together Nate and Mae try to endure as best as they can. This is one of those books I didn’t want to end, and when it did, I began researching this part of American history with a level of pride and wonderment as never before.
Geoff Spellberg hopes that by telling his story, readers will have “the opportunity to feel the mountain sun and taste the trail dust.” And I did just that as I got lost in his book. As I eagerly read Rendezvous, I got to know the mountain men, their quest for beaver pelts, the perils of living off the land full of dangerous rivals and animals, and I came to understand their motivation and loyalty to one another. I marveled at the descriptions of the life of Native Americans and mountain men and wondered at their courage and fortitude. I came to like the personalities introduced in the book, both historical and fiction, villains and good guys. And through the eyes of a young Shoshone woman, I was able to travel in awe and wonderment from the mountains of the West to St. Louis, New Orleans, and back again.
Reading Rendezvous gave me a better understanding of what it was like to live in the early 1800s and I marveled at this part of America’s rich history. Mountain men were built tough and they didn’t hesitate to fight for their way of life. Even though they lacked a real leader, didn’t have a strategic plan, and only took shots between taking cover, they stood their ground, and then went on to do more wondrous things. I loved this story and had intermittent tears of happiness and sadness, as well as empathy for the mountain men, their families, and the Native Americans who lived in this era. I also salute their bravery. This is a fabulous book for history buffs, romance, and adventure readers, and everyone in between.