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**** Rebuilding Life, New Beginning       Reviewed by Rox Burkey

Listening to this story is a good experience. Author Anne Montgomery deals with the complex issues surrounding domestic violence. Rebecca Quinn, Becca, flees from New Jersey to Arizona to hide from her abusive husband. Becca’s Aunt Ruthie attended college in Arizona and roomed with Gaby Strand. Aunt Ruthie recommended Becca escape to Gaby’s home along the Salt River at the edge of Tonto National Forest. She arrives exhausted and beaten down, then wonders why she traveled to this place so different from anything she knew.

The details of the plight of the wild horses and how they are abused dovetail Becca’s struggles. Gaby provides a haven to Becca filled with a simpler life. The desert related as a magic healing ground is home to other creatures trying to survive.  A delightful vignette between a resident skunk and the cat, Red, highlights the power of positive relationships. 

“    Later that evening, the skunk rose from a hollow-log burrow beneath thick, browned bushes that had turned with the low nighttime temperatures. It didn’t see well but required no visual cue to locate its target. The animal waddled along a line of mesquite trees that bordered a rocky stream, which sometimes provided a tasty crayfish or two, then cut across a small open field. A circle of rectangular white boxes stood in the center of the pasture.

    The skunk hurried now, exited by the smell, its keen olfactory senses equal to its excellent hearing. A soft sound brought the animal to an abrupt halt. It sniffed at the air but didn’t notice the twin green orbs glowing from beside one of the boxes. After a while, the skunk took a tentative step. Then another. She pointed her snout to the sky, from where her only true predator generally attacked and listened for the whoosh of massive wings, a great horned owl that could easily carry her off. “

When Becca befriends a stallion leader of a small band of wild horses. The stallion is hit by a motorist and rescued. Nature supplies a backdrop that this author weaves throughout the story. Her realistic descriptions paint the pictures, as they also bring out the sounds and smells of the environment. The people Becca meets help her deal with her abusive background learned from her parents’ relationship. She slowly develops skills to help her trust herself and the abilities she earned before her awful relationship. Becca is introduced to Noah by Gaby. Noah provides a new perspective on men and supports her desire for independence.

The pace of the voiceover by Patricia Shade is superb. The narration was clear and concise as the characters’ dialogues were discernable with different tones. There were no problems with the quality of this audible. I recommend this to people who like detailed stories of survival efforts and enjoy a steady build to the surprising end. The location in Arizona is one I visited several times and appreciated the raw beauty. You will learn about animals, places, and the connectedness of life.

About the Author

Author Website

Anne Butler Montgomery has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, and amateur sports official. Her first TV job came at WRBL‐TV in Columbus, Georgia, and led to positions at WROC‐TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP‐TV in Phoenix, Arizona, and ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award‐winning SportsCenter. She finished her on‐camera broadcasting career with a two‐year stint as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns.

Montgomery was a freelance and/or staff reporter for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces. Her novel, The Scent of Rain, was released in March 2017. A Light in the Desert was published in November 2018. Wild Horses on the Salt will be released in 2020. Montgomery taught high school journalism for 20 years and was an amateur sports official for four decades, a time during which she called baseball, ice hockey, soccer, and basketball games and served as a high school football referee and crew chief. Montgomery is a foster mom to three sons. When she can, she indulges in her passions: rock collecting, scuba diving, and playing her guitar. Website

About the Narrator

Narrator Website

Patricia Shade is a versatile audiobook narrator, storyteller, teacher, actor, and musician. For many years she performed in plays and musicals in the vibrant theatre scene of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Since moving to California, she has performed with the Davis Shakespeare Ensemble, and expanded her activities to include audiobook narration for, book readings for Stories on Stage Davis, and radio theatre with the Bike City Theatre Company. An accomplished pianist and singer, Patricia also sings with the Davis Community Chorale. When she isn’t performing for a wider audience, Patricia teaches lower elementary students in a mixed-age classroom at Bergamo Montessori School in Sacramento. Website

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