Historical fiction novels are one of my favorite genres. I love to read about history, and I enjoy it even more if there is a romantic element in the tale. The really hard part has been finding good historical fiction/romance books with lesbian main characters. There just aren’t that many out there.
This is why I was so happy to find Crossing The Wide Forever by Missouri Vaun. The story is set in the year 1856 during the westward expansion of the American frontier. The tale is about Cody Walsh and Lillie Ellis. Lillie is headed west to Kansas from New York to live on a homestead she inherited from her uncle. She plans to work as a teacher in the small community nearby. Her dream though, is to become an artist, painting landscapes of the Kansas prairie. Cody is escaping an abusive father in the backwoods of Arkansas and decides that dressing as a man is the best and safest way to travel to California. The two meet briefly in St. Louis, and again on the way to Independence. They decide to work together and help each other on this very dangerous journey.
Missouri Vaun is one of my favorite authors. Something about the way she writes, the flow of her words, just speaks to me. I have enjoyed everything I have read of hers so far, and this book is no different. Her descriptions are so vivid, you can’t help but feel a part of the scene. Her characters are so well-drawn they become real to the reader.
The story itself is not unrealistic. Ms. Vaun did her research on this time period and found that quite a few women dressed as men to make the journey West. Some were escaping abusive husbands or families like Cody. Others were trying to escape arranged marriages. Some women realized this was the safest and easiest way to get jobs and earn money to provide for themselves. Women didn’t have many job opportunities during this period of our history. And of course there were some that wanted to live with the woman they loved, and this was just about the only way.
I will admit I was a bit upset at the end of the book. It has a beautiful ending, don’t get me wrong. I just didn’t want it to end. I wanted to read more about Cody and Lillie. I wanted to see a bit more into their future. I became that invested in these characters.
If you enjoy historical fiction with adventure, beautiful settings, realistic characters, and a lovely romance, then I encourage you to read this book.
This is a customer review and is my honest opinion. You can find Crossing The Wide Forever at Bold Strokes Books.