Kansas Bleeds

Written by Melody Groves
Review by Cindy Vallar

Lucas Colton believes in the Confederate cause, but William Quantrill’s brutality keeps him from joining the Bushwhackers. He becomes a gun runner, although not a particularly successful one. The lies he tells to his wife and family mount, while his work hauling legitimate freight suffers. In his anger over losing his job, he changes his mind and helps the Bushwhackers burn and loot Kansas farms. His actions have a grave effect on him and his family, but will he change in time to save those he loves or the city of Lawrence from Quantrill’s wrath?

Groves ably depicts the bloody struggle along the Kansas-Missouri border during the Civil War and realistically portrays Quantrill and those who followed him, including Jesse and Frank James and Cole Younger. The depiction of her protagonist, however, is a problem. Luke professes to believe in the importance of family, yet his actions show little concern for anyone but himself. He constantly lies to his wife, leaves her and their children alone, and drinks – actions that prevent the reader from caring about him. As a result, when he finally understands how important they are to him, the reader doesn’t believe the change in him.