Tag: Ken Casper

Guest Review: Uncertain Fate by Ken Casper

Posted July 22, 2013 by Judith in Reviews | 0 Comments

17046645Judith’s review of Uncertain Fate (Return to Caddo Lake Trilogy, book 1) by Ken Casper

Nineteen years ago, Frannie Granger disappeared . . . Since then, the land at Beaumarais near Caddo Lake, East Texas, has hidden the secret of her fate. Now that secret is out, but a mystery remains: who is responsible for what happened on her last hectic morning so long ago? 

The local sheriff is convinced Jed Louis, heir to the antebellum plantation house, breeder of Percheron horses, and the eldest of the three foster children Frannie raised as her own, is responsible for what took place. 
Gwyn Miller, who leases land from Jed, is equally committed to proving the millionaire horseman was in no way involved.   She’s also determined to show Jed that nothing can ever threaten what they have with each other, not even his Uncertain Fate.

I was pleased to discover the works of Ken Casper a number of months ago and am happy to report that I have never been disappointed with any of the novels he has written.  Now he and two other authors have embarked on an ambitious writing project that will give each author one of the three books in the trilogy, an on-going murder mystery and the journeys of three young people back to the place where they found love and the sense of family that has stayed with them throughout their adult lives.

This novel is Jed Louis’ story.  A young man who was not wanted and who ended up being cared for and cared about by a woman of deep compassion and endless love, and woman who did above and beyond for the three kids who made up her family even though none were her own biological offspring.  Now he is accused of his foster mother’s murder, an idea that is so foreign to Jed he can scarcely comprehend it.  In spite of his wealth that has benefitted so many in his community, he is a man under suspicion and this is a novel that walks the reader through the pain of that uncertainty, the harsh reality of what could happen even though he knows in his heart of hearts that he would never have done anything to hurt the one woman who made him feel special.

The most unique aspect of this novel is that while the journey the reader takes through weeks and months of Jed’s life introduces them to special people in his life, the reader is also aware that there are large questions that are not being answered.  In fact, the solving of the mystery of Frannie’s murder doesn’t happen in this book.  But don’t be reluctant to read it.  This novel is one of Ken Casper’s best, one that weaves Jed’s life in and out of Gwyn’s, brings him face to face with a lot about himself that he has struggled over for years, clarifies relationships from the past and the present, and helps him to recognize that all of life is uncertain, all of our future days are assumptions, and that one can only live one day at a time.  It is the supreme lesson that Jed and Gwyn are poised to face.  Whether they will learn it is the question that drives this novel.

This novel was written late in 2012 and I am not really sure when I acquired it.  But I am sure glad that I did.  It is the kind of book that pairs sizzling romance with a mystery so profound that it is going to take more than one or two books to solve the crime.  It is also the kind of book that doesn’t hesitate to craft characters that aren’t always “nice,” not always comfortable, and which allows the tension between various people in Jed’s life to live and squirm and assume a life of its own throughout the story.  The sheriff is one of those characters I hope gets a dose of real life before this is all over, but he is a mystery in and of himself.  What drives him?  Why is he so angry at Jed, so determined that Jed is the killer?  These are questions that aren’t really answered here and are guaranteed to push us all on to the next novel in the series:  Uncertain Past.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough.  Bell Bridge Books has done well to give us this fine novel and I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.  I know that I am off and running to the next episode in this trilogy.

I give it a rating of  4.5 out of 5.

You can read more from Judith at Dr J’s Book Place.

This book is available from Bell Bridge Books. You can buy it here or here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher for an honest review.

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Guest Review: Standing in the Shadows by Ken Casper

Posted July 8, 2012 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 0 Comments

Judith’s review of Standing in the Shadows by Ken Casper.

Marcie Browder might have despised her miserable father, but she didn’t kill him. Now, is she falling in love with the man who did? She married a guy just like her dear old dad. Drunk. Abusive. Unfaithful. So she divorced him and returned home to her family’s ranch in West Texas to heal. Her hopes for peace vanish when she has a confrontation with her father—and later, he’s found dead. Murdered. The new ranch foreman, Tucker McGee, a man who unsettles her in ways she doesn’t want to admit, is the prime suspect.

Marcie soon learns the people she trusted most—family and friends—are hiding secrets that will change her life, forever. And they know something they’re not telling her about Tucker McGee. He sits a horse well—very well—but he’s no cowboy. Marcie’s reluctant to accept his help, but he’s hard to resist . . . in more ways than one. Is Tucker her only ally, or is he just another dangerous man with the power to hurt her?

I guess the most difficult part of reading a story like this is to know that even though this is a fictional family, there are scads of families just like it–filled with hurt, abuse, secrets, anger, and jealousy. Ken Casper has created a novel that is filled with all those things yet there is, at the very core, the desire to be the best, to find the best, to be the best that is humanly possible. Everyone has probably experienced the need to return to one’s roots, to return to a place where one is supposed to be cherished and valued, taken in as an important part of the whole. Yet when Marcie returns home she finds more of the same and is thrown into the morass of swirling emotions, deep family secrets, all brought to a head by the actions and eventual murder of her dad, an unkind and ego-driven man who has no love, no kindness, no caring for anyone in his family.

This will not be a simplistic reading experience as each of these characters appears to be one thing on the surface, a particular kind of person whose place in the overall scheme of things is more often than not far different than first assumed. Add in the presence of a new foreman who has some secrets of his own, an old drinking buddy of his dad’s who muddies the waters and keeps everyone off balance with his participation in the affairs of Marcie’s dad, a fellow rancher whose cattle are being rustled along with some from Marcie’s family ranch and whose emotional connection to her mother has her asking questions, and a brother who has another whole life and whose jealousy of his sister drives him to make some unwise choices. It’s a complicated cast of characters but one where every person on every page is important to the progress of the story.

Marcie and Tucker’s attraction to one another isn’t the most obvious aspect of the story, but it is one that is important as it pinpoints Marcie’s deep fear of being hurt again while hoping that for once there is a man who values her enough to treat her well. Their story is woven throughout the warp and woof of the novel’s many textures and it gives that marvelous flavor that only a well-written romance can give to any other kind of novel. Right along with Marcie the reader will discover some important truths that will change the way these characters interact, and all in all it is a compelling novel with its romance, its relational tensions, and the mysteries of who is rustling the cattle as well as how the murder of Marcie’s dad may be connected.

This was a delightful read–delightful in the sense that reading a novel that snags my interest and which holds it fast for the duration is a delight. It was a delight because of being beautifully written and balanced in all its story ingredients. This is the second Ken Casper novel I have read and I was not disappointed in this one at all. Best of all, the author lends that edge of life experience to the writing that make this story so believable. It’s a terrific book.

I give it a rating of 4.25 out of 5

You can read more from Judith at Dr J’s Book Place.

This book is available from Bell Bridge Books. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

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