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The Beaten Territory

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  85 ratings  ·  32 reviews
The Ryans won’t be found in any history books—but their lives, conducted on the fringes of polite society, were desperate and uncompromising in the face of limited options. The Beaten Territory finds Annie Ryan running a second-rate brothel in 1890s Denver. When her young niece arrives, she is swept up in a world of booze, drugs and vice. Pearl becomes a pawn of underworld ...more
Hardcover, 335 pages
Published October 18th 2017 by Five Star Publishing
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Average rating 4.05  · 
Rating details
 ·  85 ratings  ·  32 reviews

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Nov 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Full disclosure: I know the author. So it was admittedly a weird experience to start reading the book, knowing her on a personal level. Initially I had to read "despite" my friendship with her, but at about halfway through the second chapter I was genuinely engaged in the story and the characters and forgot about the authorship. The story is a compelling and detailed exposure of a side of life in the "Old West" that is mostly just alluded to in other western novels, where prostitutes are used as ...more
Jan 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fun book to read!! Enjoyed the different historical perspective, gave a great insight into Denver in the late 19th century. Was well written and kept me engaged so it ended up being a short read. Highly recommend to anyone but especially those who are interested in history and something different.
Ida Bostian
Oct 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I received an advanced copy of The Beaten Territory in exchange for my honest review, and I'm so glad I did! This is a compelling story of a little-examined side of the late 1800s in the West, told from the perspective of three women, all three of whom are involved in the business of prostitution. Annie Ryan runs a small saloon and prosecution house, with ambitions to move up in the world and become more self-sufficient from the rest of her brothel-owning family. To this end, she recruits/traps ...more
Oct 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Annie didn’t see the harm in bringing her daughters into the “family business.” As the author states: Annie would have liked to say that she and her daughters flounced into Denver, but is was more like tumbled into town. Like that tumbleweed, all dusty and bruised from the stagecoach all crammed and full…Denver was her town, and Market Street had always been her family’s territory.

The Beaten Territory is just that, a place where innocent women end up, many times because it appears to be one’s o
Joyce Lohse
Feb 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Realistic historic fiction about a pioneer prostitute -
The Beaten Territory is a grim look at Colorado’s late 1800’s red-light district in Denver’s lower downtown, and in Leadville. Remarkable research provides details about the brothels, and the lives and circumstances of people who lived and worked in them.
This historical fiction is based on a Denver family who owned saloons, gaming parlors, and brothels. When Pearl Ryan leaves her orphanage home to seek a job, family members, and information
May 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The story of a family in the Colorado saloon and brothel business back in the 1890's. The book provides a fascinating glimpse into that world. There are crooked cops, the Badger Game, opium dens and serious drug and alcohol problems. The depiction of the day to day life in the brothel highlights what a grim life some of these women led.

The story takes place in Denver and Leadville and was especially interesting to me as Leadville hasn't changed that much since the time of the story. State Stree
Kat Pegfred
Dec 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a good book! It is a rare gift for an author to be write with a sympathetic eye toward their characters AND able to tell a story in a realist way - right up there with Tolstoy and Rohinton Mistry (author of "A Fine Balance"). The story is satisfying insofar as the story comes full circle without the reader needing to suspend any disbelief or leap over any too-obvious hints or plot holes.
The ending, while surprising (no spoilers!), still fits into the grander narrative of the story.
As a Den
Oct 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wow. What a thought provoking story of a grizzly era of Denver and Colorado history. The characters are so real that you can feel the need they had for something which would lessen their pain. The description of daily life in such an unforgiving business had me turning pages in the hope of something better for Annie Ryan, Pearl and Lydia. I could hardly put the book down. The main thing "Beaten" in this story was hope. I hope Ms Samuelson-Brown continues to relate history in such a realistic way ...more
Doug Lowry
Oct 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I found The Beaten Territory a very enjoyable read. Having read westerns for many years, I especially like historical fiction, and this book was not only well written but also was unlike any other I have read since the topic was principally the workings of brothels in pre-1900 Colorado. I particularly liked the attention to detail as the book explained how prostitution was managed and even included the business dealings. This book reminded me a great deal of Louis L’Amour’s westerns, which I alw ...more
Oct 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was hooked with the opening paragraph, and not disappointed. The characters leapt off the page (no small feat for an author), and the dialogue keeps you enthralled. Whether you agree with the subject or not, the book provides an honest look at the choices available to your female ancestors during that time period. Would definitely recommend it, and am looking forward to Ms. Samuelson-Brown's next book. ...more
Nov 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Each time I set down The Beaten Territory I was anxious for the chance to pick it back up and continue reading. It is an addictive read, the perfect combination of historical atmosphere, characters who are well-drawn and intriguing, and a plot that builds to a slow crescendo. I don't recall reading a novel that so openly explores the tough reality of prostitution, and the hard-fought choices for women, in the Old West. I highly recommend this book. ...more
Oct 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was fortunate to receive an advanced reader copy of The Beaten Territory. It is surely one of the most captivating books that I have read in a very long time. The author's provocative perspective and vivid descriptions have me still thinking about the Ryans and anticipating what might have happened next. ...more
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is stunning in all aspects. The history of Colorado is right on. As you read you feel the mud on your shoes, the foul smells of the alley. Feel as if you are walking on the liquor spilled wooden floors, feel the suffering and the beatings the anquish and the fear, the wind and dust on your clothes and skin. Could not put it down!
Jodianne Escalante
Nov 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Although Historical fiction is not normally a genre which interests me, I found this book fascinating and a great read! Usually when you read about the wild west you hear only about the men. This is an interesting tale about the women of those times. I highly recommend this book.
Lisa Birkhofer
Dec 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read Randi's The Beaten Territory and loved it, well, except for the brutal ending. But her raw, honest style pulled me in and didn't let go. This book is not only very entertaining but also informative. I enjoy historical fiction and The Beaten Territory rates 5 stars for me. ...more
Valerie Walker
Nov 22, 2017 is currently reading it
I thoroughly enjoyed the bumpy ride through the 1890's in Leadville and Denver brothels. Cutthroat business dealings, watered-down liquor, and smelly mining men made up the lives of women in the biz! ...more
Dawn Shepler
Dec 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A rough and tumble look at the women on the darker side of early Denver. A great read leaving me wanting more! Hope there's a sequel... ...more
Feb 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The story came alive through well drawn characters and an interesting plot. It was a fascinating look at the darker side of early Denver. A great read.
Jan 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“The Beaten Territory” is a fascinating story set in Denver in the late 1800s and revolves around family, tragedies, prostitution and the hard living conditions and challenges of those times (to name a few) ... which could sound like a downer but it’s not! It’s a fascinating page turner!

The author’s writing style is concise, unflinching and gritty whether the words are infused with hardship or humor. There’s not a lot of fluff to wade through which keeps the storyline moving and allowed me to st
Dian Burns
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Incredible read, and I'm not generally a fan of Western, but this had such a unique story line I couldn't resist picking it up. ...more
Beth Barnes
Sep 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was fortunate to receive and read the advance reader copy of Randi Samuelson-Brown’s The Beaten Territory. This historical western captivated me from the start when Pearl Kelly came of age in 1880s’ Denver after being orphaned by her prostitute mother whose looks and life dulled then ended in a haze of opium. Leaving the care and schooling of the convent at sixteen, Pearl’s options were limited, virtually non-existent. But this fresh-faced beauty refused to give up hope for a better life. Each ...more
Sep 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
The book isn't bad, in writing style, and historic ideas. I'd mark it five stars if there was anything redeeming about any given character throughout the story, sadly, that isn't really the case.

Almost every character in the book is self-involved, to the point of turning a blind eye to what is really happening around them; arguably, to the point of some of them being spoiled despite the lifestyles they live. There does seem to be an error in the years of the book (1878 to 1893 would make a main
Sep 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was given an Advanced Readers copy free of charge and really enjoyed reading this book! As a historical fiction book, it is an accurate portrayal of life in the west in the late 1800s. It focuses on Colorado and the impact mining had on the families in Leadville and Denver. The story line follows a family-run brothel and draws you in to an understanding of the limited choices many women had in order to survive. The creative writing of this story makes it extremely entertaining and keeps you th ...more
Bonnie Hobbs
Aug 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Just finished the No-cost ARC of this book. Enjoyed it, well maybe enjoy isn't quite the right word. I agonized with, worried over, hoped for salvation and survival of these complex characters. My personal preference? MORE backstory about Pearl and Annie and Lydia and the brothers Ryan, yet there's plenty given so we can understand the dangers and hope for joy, no matter how faint, that drive the choices the characters make. Life was gritty in the west, there's no getting around it. Be prepared ...more
J. Botkin
Nov 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Randi Samuelson-Brown has written a novel entirely based on an aspect that only appears fleetingly in other books—that of western, late nineteenth-century prostitution. Only a woman historian-writer could see a worthwhile story in prostitutes' lives. In the novel's opening paragraphs, Samuelson-Brown’s description of Denver, “a good-time town, where vice sprung up like weeds” and where in the air “the strange fragrance of opportunity for the reckless of heart” awaits, instantly places the reade ...more
Michelle Ferrer
Feb 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Author Randi Samuelson-Brown weaves a compelling tale of the mostly ignored dark side of 19th century Denver. Walk with her through its streets and back alleys to smell and taste the grime, vomit, and vice of a rough and tumble town that offered opportunity and prosperity for men, but heartbreak for women.
Meet Annie Ryan who grew up in the “family business”. Along with her brothers, the Ryan family dominated the infamous Market St. bawdy houses where the commodity was a sporting gal whose price
Alethea Williams
Sep 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Like Milana Marsenich's Copper Sky, this is a novel of a Western mining town and the people who populate the world beneath the surface prosperity. And it ain't a pretty picture. The Ryan family survives in Denver in the 1880s any way they can, as bordello owners, prostitutes, gamblers, and cheap watered booze suppliers. The trick is in not getting snared by whiskey, laudanum, or the opium offered by the Chinese. Into this world steps Pearl, daughter of deceased Claire Ryan, niece of Annie and he ...more
Jul 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Adult, historical fiction . Denver, the seedy side, in the late 19th century. We follow an unfortunate, loosely tied, no-love-lost family with even looser morals, through their struggles to improve their aforementioned fortune.
First, this is a beautifully designed and well bound book. Note to self: Stop judging books totally by their covers.
I bought it from a YA bookseller, whom I can’t fault for not knowing it is a dark, adult book, because they can’t possibly check every book they offer. As a
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 19, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not that riveting

Meh, it took too long to capture my attention, dragging on, and finally got exciting and then it was over.
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