The Sons of Philo Gaines

Written by Michael R. Ritt
Review by Xina Marie Uhl

The legacy of Matthew Gaines’s father, legendary fighting man and Texas Ranger, looms large in the lives of his three sons. The book opens with a focus on prissy, well-educated Matthew. He leaves the East coast to take up a schoolteacher’s life in Mustang Flats, Texas. There, he meets the lovely Katie who is engaged to the resident bad guy, but whose charms make it clear that she will cause him trouble to come.

The book is presented in four parts, one covering each son, and the last covering all three of them together. All the expected Western tropes appear such that the blurb on the cover even mentions the iconic Louis L’Amour, who was undoubtedly the author’s muse. While there is plenty of action and adventure, and a lovely twist of an ending, I found the characters to be inconsistent, especially Matthew. He is portrayed as shy, bookish, and snobby, but somehow quickly morphs into an angry action star who doesn’t think twice about challenging the status quo. The villain and the women came across as two-dimensional and stereotypical. Still, readers more interested in good old-fashioned rabble-rousing than character studies will find this tale just what they are looking for.