Backwards to Oregon by Jae

When Nikki and I found out that Ylva was rereleasing Backwards to Oregon, we were thrilled. THRILLED! We love the book and have each read it a few times and never, ever get tired of Luke and Nora. Since we couldn’t decide which of us would get to do the review we’re going to do it together.

In a nutshell, Backwards to Oregon is about the journey that Luke Hamilton and his new wife, Nora, take along the Oregon Trail. They’re moving from Missouri to Oregon so Luke can start up a horse ranch. Here are a few other things you should know: Luke is a woman passing as a man and Nora is a former prostitute who has a 3 year old daughter.  

There are some minor spoilery things in this review so please be aware.


Cheri: I freaking love this book so hard!

Nikki: Could not agree more. I love Luke and Nora and I was so excited that they were coming out with a revised, expanded edition! I thought, what would be added? More to the end? More adorable togetherness after such a big build up? But, really, I had a hard time tracking down scenes that had been added. What about you?

Cheri: I was only able to identify one scene so I’m wondering if there were just some small expansions of existing scenes.  I haven’t checked but I think the first scene may have been moved up from where it was previously a flashback. But I’m not 100% sure on that and don’t have the first edition handy.

It’s been several months since I’ve read the old one but I think I’d recognize something major added. I did, however, notice that the misused words and typos were pretty much all cleaned up. The notorious “bum in the oven” was corrected to “bun in the oven” so we can’t joke about that anymore. I only caught one typo: “scene” that was supposed to be “scent.” But I have to admit that I read the majority of the book with my ears (using a text to speech app) so there may have been some that got by me.

Nikki: I didn’t notice any glaring grammar problems, either, so that must have gotten cleaned up. But then you’re better at noticing things like that than I am.

They did include the short story “A Rooster’s Job” at the end, which I liked. However, I was hoping for a little bit more than that. One thing I’ve always wished with this book was that it included more after they finally acknowledged their feelings for each other. The book spends an extremely long time building up to that, and then it ends. Which always leaves me desperate for more of Luke and Nora! Jae alludes to a really touching scene in the short but didn’t add that into the main story, which I would have loved to see.

Cheri: I agree completely! I love the description of the journey and being a part of Luke and Nora learning to trust each other and, eventually, falling in love. But I adore reading about them after the big “reveal” and wish, WISH, there was more of that. I need to get the new book of shorts to see if that gives us a bit more. I’ve read all the ones that were available for free on the L-Book site but there are two new ones with compiled book Jae’s new publisher, Ylva, recently put out.

Nikki: I need to get that too. Because I will take any and all opportunities to read more about them. Normally, I’m not like that. I get tired of a couple and don’t care to learn more, but there is something about this couple that makes me want to read at least another book worth of their journey together. I want to know what their transition in Oregon was like, as it couldn’t have been easy with a new baby in tow!

And another thing. Normally, it irritates me to no end when the book goes on and on and on without the couple getting together, but that never bothers me with this book and I have no idea why. It also usually bothers me when characters don’t communicate with each other. I mean, Luke didn’t even know Nora had siblings until 2/3 of the way through! Normally that would drive me insane. But not with this couple.

Cheri: The reason that the non-communication thing doesn’t  bother me in this one is because there’s really no time for them to talk about their families and past and stuff because they’re spending all their time trying not to get maimed or die.

I think this book really does have it all. It’s got two wonderful and complex main characters, a couple of total bastard bad guys, some terrific secondary characters – Tess and Bernice, for example – and the adventure of the physical journey across the country in wagons.

There’s so much about this book that I love that it would take a long time to discuss them all but I want to bring up Luke’s relationship with Nora’s daughter, Amy. Watching Luke grow into a complete family “man” just makes my heart happy.

Dammit! I started another book this morning but now I’m going to have to go read Hidden Truths.

Nikki: I love the relationship between Amy and Luke. Luke really is the best ‘father’ she could ask for. I knew you couldn’t resist it! I started Hidden Truths already this morning and will likely fly right through it. 

All in all, still loved the book, would have liked a more ‘expansive’ expansion, but I still loved reading it. I’m not entirely sure it qualifies as “revised” as it was hard for me to pin down what was added, so whatever it was, it wasn’t big like I was hoping for.

Cheri: I’m not sure if there could really ever be an expansive enough expansion for us. I think that really does speak to how much we love this book.

Ok, I’m off to read Hidden Truths!

Click here to purchase or download a sample of Backwards to Oregon
And here for Beyond the Trail. Six Short Stories


  1. Thank you, Cheri and Nikki, for a wonderful review. As for the differences between the first and the second edition… I indeed added some new scenes, but they fit in so seamlessly with the previous scenes that even I had trouble listing the new scenes in the end. One example of a new scene is the one right before the wedding in which Tess speaks to Nora, trying to caution her about marrying Luke without giving away Luke’s secret.

    Yes, as you suspected, Cheri, the beginning is now in chronological order instead of as a flashback.

    I also extended some scenes and changed others, for example in this version, Luke and Nora each shoot one of the bad guys.

    Most changes are at the level of line editing, though. I disentangled a lot of complicated sentences, got rid of overused or unnecessary words, and showed some scenes that I just “told” in the previous version, e.g., Luke and Nora having to shoot the ox.

    The revisions in my next novel, Second Nature, will be of a different nature (pardon the pun). The revisions in Second Nature are much more extensive, with scenes taking a completely different course than in the first edition.

    Again, thanks for the review.

    • Yes the ox! I forgot that part. Also I’m glad you said that about Luke shooting the one guy. In my mind I thought I was remembering wrong. Of course I JUST read the scene in Hidden Truths where Nora alludes to the fact that she had killed two men. Which now, she hasn’t! Thanks so much for your response!

  2. Jae! Was the wedding night scene new?

    And thanks for teasing us with Second Nature. I love that book. How much longer do we have to wait for it?

    • The wedding scene itself was not new, but the one before that, where Tess tries to talk Nora out of her wedding plans.

      We’re planning on publishing Second Nature in July or August. I’m working hard on it.

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