The third volume of O’Banyon’s Hawk Crest saga finds the youngest of four children, eleven-year-old Jena Leigh, in mortal danger from both diphtheria and the fire that destroyed her orphanage in 1858 Texas. Rescued and brought up by a wealthy, unconventional journalist, she returns during the Reconstruction Era to find her family.
Both impulsive and self-righteous, Jena Leigh soon embroils herself in both politics and a serial murder investigation on behalf of the local newspaper, where she is known for her editorials under the pseudonym J.L. Rebel. Union leader Colonel Clay Madison is smitten and learns to respect Jena Leigh’s intelligence and independence as she is busy matchmaking and finding the murderer. Another villain, set on destroying the Hawk family, is closing in as Jena finds both a husband and brother.
After a promising opening, Hawk’s Pursuit suffers from clichéd characterization (including a villain who actually hisses), awkward viewpoint shifts, and plot devices that don’t make organic sense. The novel is further disserved by cover art depicting the hero in the wrong side’s uniform.