Tag Archives: A Novel of the Big Bend

Review: Destiny’s Way by Ben H. English

A Novel of the Big Bend
Ben H. English
Historical Fiction / Suspense
Publisher: Creative Texts Publishers
Date of Publication: January 18, 2020
Number of Pages: 363

Kate Blanchard woke up one morning in a dream home she could no longer afford, with a young son who needed a man’s influence, and not a friend among those who had claimed to be prior to her husband’s mysterious disappearance.

About all she had left was a ramshackle ranch along Terlingua Creek, sitting forlornly in the desolate reaches of the lower Big Bend. It was the only place left she could go. There she finds a home and a presence of something strange yet comforting that she can’t put her finger on or fully understand.

With that ethereal presence comes Solomon Zacatecas, a loner with his own past and a knowledge of her land near uncanny in nature. He helps her when no one else can and is honest when no one else will be, but she suspicions that he is not always completely so.

Yet her quiet, unassuming neighbor proves to be more than capable in whatever situation arises. That includes when standing alone against those who would take everything else that Kate had, including her life as well as her son’s.


“This is one of those rare books that you simply can’t put down. Ben English ‘s writing style is pure magic. He really brings this historical fiction book to life. Immediately, you are drawn to the main characters Kate and Solomon and feel as though you are right there next to them, experiencing what they are experiencing. Destiny’s Way is one that would do well on the Silver Screen.”
Catherine Eaves, published author“Ben does a superb job with this book! Excellent characters, true-to-life environment that is part and parcel of the story, twists and turns enough to make you wonder what is going on, and a slice of life down in Big Bend that rings true. That area has historically been full of ‘characters’ throughout its history, and Ben brings those characters into the book, raising the hair on the back of your neck. Highly recommended!”
J. L. Curtis, author of the Grey Man series“Ben, I love how your words and your memories reach out and connect the past with the present and touch so many people along the way. You are the connector! Bravo Zulu, my friend.”
Matt Walter, Museum of the Big Bend Curator


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Destiny’s Way by Ben H. English quotes La Golondria, which is played during a dance scene in the book. I decided to fire up the version by Nana Mouskouri on YouTube to set the mood as I write this review. It is a lovely song to listen to and you get a sense of longing even if you don’t understand the lyrics. In retrospect, the longing and anguish of the swallow unable to return home can be understood by several characters in the novel, both living and nonliving.

The prologue is an action scene out of a good western – nothing flashy or corny – with grit and the grim reaper waiting in the wings. It is a very different scene and tone from the first chapter that takes place about 60 years later. English’s knack for writing exquisite detail takes a break from the tactical to give the reader a real sense of what the Big Bend looks and feels like. He takes us through Kate’s impression of the area to a geography lesson-like description and finishes off with a theological rendition of how the Big Bend was created. With just that one page of description, I understood how different that area was from anywhere else I have been to in Texas, but I could see how it comforted Kate in some way.

I wanted nothing but good things for Kate from the very beginning. Once you know what she has been through and had to overcome while raising a young boy alone, you can’t help but place yourself firmly in her corner. And it was a relief when Solomon the “Wolf” came into their lives. Don’t get me wrong; Kate is definitely not a damsel in distress. She is a very strong and capable woman with a very big heart. And when you adore a character with those qualities, you want them to be cherished and respected. English writes her so beautifully in stark contrast to the vile men who have nothing but bad intentions. And somewhere outside of that spectrum, the author gifts us with the enigma that is Solomon. I really enjoyed the characterizations in this book (even the baddies) but Solomon was so deep and wide.

The life lessons that Solomon teaches Jamie really resonated with me since I have a young son myself. I think that the code that he lives his life by is honorable and can be adopted by anyone regardless of gender or age. While their growing bond and Jamie’s transition to manhood are not the main storyline, they fueled my enthusiasm for the book because without them, Solomon would not be the protector of the small family and he likely would end up on the wrong side of the law to exact revenge. I have nothing but respect for people who follow through with their morals and lead by example.

In addition to writing quite a yarn, complete with spectral visitations, English very obviously knows his stuff when it comes to the locale, the animals, the weapons, and strategy. While I could have read hundreds of more pages about how Solomon helped Kate improve her home, I was truly gripped by the suspense and smarts behind the last act. English has a subtle touch when it comes to uncomfortable situations, so if you’re worried you can’t handle violence, don’t. I think that this book will appeal to many different readers: lovers of historical romance, historical fiction, westerns, you name it.

Ben H. English is an eighth-generation Texan who grew up in the Big Bend. At seventeen he joined the Marines, ultimately becoming a chief scout-sniper as well as a platoon sergeant. Later he worked counterintelligence and traveled to over thirty countries. 
At Angelo State University he graduated Magna Cum Laude along with other honors. Afterwards Ben had a career in the Texas Highway Patrol, holding several instructor billets involving firearms, driving, and defensive tactics.
His intimate knowledge of what he writes about lends credence and authenticity to his work. Ben knows how it feels to get hit and hit back, or being thirsty, cold, wet, hungry, alone, or exhausted beyond imagination. Finally, he knows of not only being the hunter but also the hunted.
Ben and his wife have two sons who both graduated from Annapolis. He still likes nothing better than grabbing a pack and some canteens and heading out to where few others venture.

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