Tag: Westerns

Guest Review: Wildflower by Virginia Brown

Posted May 15, 2013 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 0 Comments

Judith’s review of Wildflower by Virginia Brown.

Colorado Kate — as notorious for her lovers as she was for her robberies. No man had ever taken her prisoner and if she had her way, no one ever would. But when she found herself looking into the relentless black eyes of infamous gunslinger Jake Lassiter, Caitlin knew her luck had run out. There was no mercy in his chiseled face, no softness in his rock hard body. Despite her reputation she had never known a man, and she was stunned by the wave of desire that rose within her at Jake’s heated caress. The green-eyed renegade was desperate to escape, but flames of passion held her body captive and left her yearning for the dangerous touch of the dark and ruthless lawman!

He’s a legendary gunslinger working for the powerful business baron she intends to bring down. When he takes her captive, desire makes a prisoner of them both.

 
Behold . . . a re-released version of a novel that made its initial appearance twenty years ago, complete with a beautiful new cover–much better than the old cover, IMHO.  What’s more gorgeous than a ripped cowboy, anyway.
So we have this a brother and sister–both leaders of a notorious gang of train robbers, taking silver shipments that come from only one mine–the one that was originally owned by their dad and mom and which was stolen from them when the present owner shot and killed them while these two siblings (just little kids at the time) watched helplessly.  Now they are grown and determined to do their best to bring this greedy evil man down.  Neither Kate nor her brother planned on being bested by a wiley gunslinger turned bounty hunter for the very man they hated.  And as their situation goes “south,” the sort-of relationship of Kate and Jake begins.  Jake is not really a very nice person, and having an outlaw woman in his custody, not realizing that she is a complete sexual innocent, means that readers will endure a scene or two that is unsavory but totally historically real.  Rape was seldom considered a crime law enforcement officers often being as cruel and without conscience as the outlaws where women were concerned.  The Old West was definitely not kind to any female of any age.  It was not a good time to be born a female.  Yet as this adversarial relationship continues on, the deeper layers of both these people are revealed.  I have to say that it is always satisfying to realize that there really are good guys that are far smarter than seemingly clever law breakers.
This novel is really well-written and as the story progresses it is not the kind of crisis resolution that one would expect.  In fact, I was fairly certain that this was going to be one of those stories that didn’t turn out very well at all.  Yet I was surprised pleasantly and as I went back to familiarize myself with aspects of the story, I was pleased at how the author developed the characters, at the hidden layers of Jake’s personality and background that were brought to light, and at the struggles and triumphs as Kate faces herself, her own demons, and her need to really grow beyond her grief and pain.
Twenty years have not dimmed the sheen on this fine novel and I am delighted that the publishers decided to make it available to readers again.  It’s well-worth the effort to read and appreciate.  I find that I am especially glad when I see publishers re-releasing treasures that deserve to be appreciated by new audiences, and I think this book it one of those.  I had moments when I was uncomfortable with the actions of Jake and some of the other characters, but when thinking further on these, I realized that the Old West was a very unfriendly place, an environment where disrespect, greed, irresponsibility, and gratuitous violence thrived.  I recommend this novel, but also add the recommendation that the reader keep a careful eye on the historical context.  I give it a rating of 4 out of 5.
You can read more from Judith at Dr J’s Book Place.
This book is available from Belle Books. You can buy it here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher for an honest review.

Guest Review: Unforgiven by B.J. Daniels

Posted November 19, 2012 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 1 Comment

Judith’s review of Unforgiven by B.J. Daniels

Under Montana’s big sky, two lovers will find their way back to one another…if an unsolved murder doesn’t pull them apart forever…. In Big Timber, Montana, land and family is everything. So when Destry Grant’s brother is accused of killing Rylan West’s sister, high school sweethearts Destry and Ryan leave their relationship behind in order to help their families recover from tragedy.

Years later, Destry is dedicated to her ranch and making plans for the future. Plans that just might include reuniting with the love of her life…until her brother returns to clear his name and the secrets of the past threaten her one chance at happiness.

Rylan is done denying his feelings for Destry. But when clues begin to link her brush with death to his sister’s murder, will discovering the truth finally grant them their chance at love or turn them against one another for good?

Years ago, when hubby and I and our four kids were living in Southwestern Idaho, I learned what it meant to live in Big Sky Country.  I have never experienced the stars and the clouds and the sense that the sky went on forever like I did then.  So when I read a book about Wyoming or Montana, I understand that sense the characters have that there is no other place on earth that can infiltrate into your viscera and hook you into its magic like the Northwestern states.

But don’t let the size or remote location of little towns and unincorporated communities lead you to believe that there isn’t a lot going on.  Where there are people there’s lots going on, even though some of it is well kept in hearts and memories.  So it is with this love story that is also a deep mystery.  It is about two lovers who are separated by the tragedy that has separated them, just when they had committed themselves to one another.  They were also separated by time–11 years of distance and unshared life experiences:  he to college and the professional rodeo circuit;  she to college and then back to once again manage her family’s ranch in Beartooth, Montana after her father’s airplane crashed and he was confined to a wheel chair.  Now Rylan has come home, but so has Destry’s brother, Carson–the man accused of Ginny West’s murder and the man everyone knows killed her.  The fact that there is no evidence to accuse him is beside the point.  So the mystery goes on and the separation between Rylan and Destry continues.

This is a tale that is all wound together like the ball of yarn that contains  many different strands.  No one can seem to unwind it, find the starting and ending of any particular strand.  It is just one great big knot.  Yet the people involved in this little community all know bits and pieces of one another’s stories but no one has been able to put anything of substance together.  All are acting on belief and supposition.  The beleaguered sheriff alone seems to be  winding his way through the assorted pieces of this and that.  Meanwhile, Destry’s brother continues under suspicion, gets into fights, drinks and gambles away vast sums of money he doesn’t have, and waits for the other shoe to drop.

There isn’t a whole lot of overt erotic loving in this story but it is filled with sexual tension.  Rylan and Destry are both miserable as they try to get past their family loyalties and make their way back to each other.  Destry’s dad and his bitter anger touch everyone in his family and many in the community.  Little by little Ginny West’s final hours and the realities of her last few weeks of life come out and others are drawn into her story in very surprising ways considering it has been 11 years since her murder.  This novel is really a microcosym of life in towns both large and small but the tiny size allows us to see more clearly the way people’s lives become so emeshed.  There are memories of great times, of happy days growing up and of lighthearted gatherings and remembered young love.  There are deep feelings of passion remembered whose fires have been banked for years and which are finally allowed to flame brightly once again.  There is betrayal and the debris of greed and ambition.  There is regret and awareness that life’s mistakes are often unable to be fixed.  Yet in the midst of this complicated tapestry of human difficulties lies the reality of a love that refuses to go away, of commitment that still binds two hears.

I have only read one or two other stories by this author but I have really enjoyed reading her stories, the way she sets up the scenes, context of characters and their pasts, and how she used an awesome creativity to resolve some of the issues in her stories.  But just as in life not everything has a happy ending, so it is with this author’s work.  Not everything works out–some situations are just left dangling.  Possibly that means there are other stories to come.  Possibly not.  Suffice it to say that this particular novel is a terrific piece of romance fiction writing with some scintillating suspense thrown in.  It’s a book that begs to be read and enjoyed and I am firm in my belief that those who like contemporary Western fiction will find this story a delight.

I give it a rating of 4 out of 5

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

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

Review: Big Sky Mountain by Linda Lael Miller

Posted August 9, 2012 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments


Rowena’s review of Big Mountain Sky (Parable, Montana #2) by Linda Lael Miller.

Hero: Hutch Carmody
Heroine: Kendra Shepherd

 

With his rugged good looks, vast wealth and family name, hell-raiser Hutch Carmody is still the golden boy of Parable, Montana. But he’s done some growing up—making peace with his illegitimate half brother and inheriting half of Whisper Creek Ranch, which should have been all his. These days, Hutch knows there are some things money can’t buy: like the heart of loving, ladylike divorcée Kendra Shepherd.

Kendra’s quiet mansion reminds her of what she wants most—a devoted husband and the pitter-patter of little feet. She can’t get Hutch Carmody out of her mind. But a rough-and-tumble cowboy like Hutch, coming home for family dinner? Seems crazy! Then again, crazier dreams have become reality under the vast Montana sky.

Before I get into my review, can I just say that Hutch Carmody as seen on the cover of this book is freaking delicious? I want to eat him up! I’ve cut back on the amount of cowboy books that I read because the last few books that I tried just weren’t that memorable. They didn’t grab me the way that other cowboy books have, that made me want to devour all things western but this book ended up being a good read. I’m glad that I read it.

This is the second book in the Parable, Montana series by Linda Lael Miller. I’m thinking that I should have read the first book first because far too often, throughout this book, I felt like I was missing something. More than once, I was thrown out of the story because something was mentioned and I thought, “I should have read the first book” but even with those few instances, I enjoyed Hutch and Kendra’s story.

Hutch and Kendra have a history. This is a story of second chances and Kendra was real wary of giving Hutch a second chance because she didn’t think she’s survive another heartbreak. They used to be together but broke up and Kendra ended up marrying an unfaithful lout and Hutch almost married someone else. The story starts off when Hutch calls his wedding off…on his wedding day. His almost bride, Brylee is steaming mad and her friends start up a Down with Hutch website and he becomes the town villain. Even with everyone mad at him, Hutch doesn’t regret stopping the wedding. He knew that it wasn’t right and over the course of the book, you see just how right he was.

Kendra is now single with a young daughter in tow. Her daughter’s name is Madison and they’re moving out of the big mansion that they live in and are downsizing since it’s just the two of them and their mansion is too much house for two people. Kendra was married to a titled gentleman who had a daughter with someone else and when the mother of his child takes off, Kendra steps in and becomes young Madison’s Mom. Kendra has a big heart and that big heart is scared to let Hutch Carmody back into her life because it’s not just her anymore. She has Madison to think about and she just doesn’t want Hutch to storm into their lives if he wasn’t going to stick around.

I really enjoyed getting to know both Hutch and Kendra. To be honest, I enjoyed getting to know Hutch more than Kendra because there were times when I wanted to punch Kendra’s lights out for always assuming things but in the end, I came to like Kendra a lot and admired the way that she was with Madison. Madison was lucky to have Kendra in her life and when Hutch comes along, he completes the picture and I really liked seeing the three of them together.

I am completely curious about Boone and am hoping against hope that his book is next. I just know that him and Tara will end up together and I’d love to read about him getting that stick out of his ass and bring his boys home, where they belong. I’d like to get to know Boone’s boys better and to meet his sister and her husband who are taking care of his boys. I think I’d enjoy seeing Boone come into his own and get over himself. I’m actually looking forward to it. I’m also wondering if Walker will get his own book in this series as well because I would totally love to read that book. His little storyline with Casey could be a good one, especially since he has two kids with her and they’re not even together. There’s a story there and I’m all about reading it.

Overall, this book was a good, solid book but there were times when the story dragged. It took me a few days to get past the first few chapters because I kept waiting for something to happen already but as I got deeper and deeper into the book, I grew comfortable in the world that Miller created for these characters and in the end, I was glad that I stuck with it. It was good.

Grade: 3 out of 5

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

Review: Catch Me by Lorelie Brown

Posted July 17, 2012 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Holly’s review of Catch Me by Lorelie Brown.

Arizona Territory, 1882

Maggie Bullock’s father needed expensive medical care and if that meant stealing from their friendly swindling banker, so be it. Once her father was on the path to recovery she would face the consequences. The whole thing was surprisingly easy until she’s kidnapped by bounty hunter Dean Collier.

Collier is tired of tracking down worthless scum. He’s afraid he’ll lose his last scrap of humanity and become a stone-cold killer, just like the men he brings to justice. He jumps at the chance to become sheriff of Fresh Springs, Arizona. The one condition—capture Maggie.

He figured it’d be easy. Until beautiful, loyal Maggie breaks through defenses he’d thought cemented. His feelings for her run the range from fury to confusion to love, but if he doesn’t bring her in someone else will. Can there be a future between a sheriff and a fugitive?

I’m not a big fan of Westerns. It just isn’t my preferred time period. The blurb intrigued me, so I decided to try Catch Me. I’m glad I did. It turned out to be a great story.

Maggie needs money to help her father heal. She goes to her father’s best friend, the owner of the town bank, and is refused for a loan. So she does what any good daughter would do..she robs the bank. She’s determined to get to the sanatorium where her father is convalescing.

Bounty hunter Dean Collier is worried that he’s losing his humanity. When the mayor and bank owner of Fresh Springs offers him the position of sheriff if he brings in the bank robber, Dean considers it his last chance at salvation. He’s determined to bring in the criminal not matter what, though he is a bit taken aback when he realizes the man he’s searching for is really a woman. She proves to be more wily than he figured, but it still isn’t long before he catches up with her.

On the long trip back to Fresh Springs, Dean and Maggie realize they’re very attracted to each other. Dean is hesitant to become involved, but Maggie sees it as her last chance to have a normal life before rotting away in prison.

Female bank robber + Sexy bounty hunter + Weeks alone on the trail = a sexy, emotional, edge-of-your-seat read.I loved how Dean and Maggie battled wits and traded barbs, but came to rely on one another as the novel wore on.

This is a book I’ll read time and again.

4.5/5

This book is available from Carina Press. You can buy it here in e-format.

Guest Review: Shadow’s Stand by Sarah McCarty

Posted March 29, 2012 by Judith in Reviews | 0 Comments

Judith’s review of Shadow’s Stand (Hell’s Eight #5) by Sarah McCarty

Shadow Ochoa is lying low in the western Kansas Territory, waiting for his fellow Texas Rangers—the Hell’s Eight brotherhood—to clear his name. That is, until he’s unjustly strung up for horse thieving…and pretty Fei Yen intervenes. Invoking a seldom-used law, the exotic lady prospector claims Shadow as her husband and rides off with the bridegroom shackled to her buckboard.

Savvy, fearless Fei is single-mindedly devoted to her hidden claim and all it promises: wealth, security and freedom. A husband is just a necessary inconvenience and a name on paper to hold the claim she cannot.

Shadow isn’t a man to take orders from anyone, especially from lovely Fei—except that the daily friction between them ignites into nightly blazes of all-consuming passion. Soon Shadow is dreaming a little himself: of the life they could have if only Fei could see past the lure of independence. If only bounty hunters weren’t closing in on him. If only he’s left standing when the impending showdown has ended.

He’s huge and he’s gorgeous, bearing the obvious appearance of one of mixed heritage–Native American and Mexican–and a man who has been defamed and insulted on that basis alone. Now he is dangling at the end of a rope for horse theft, when in deed he was retrieving his own horses. His only hope: if a woman wishing to marry him cuts him down. (Only in the American West, eh?) And that’s just what happens, when a woman who is half Chinese and half American decides that she needs him to protect her as she tries to work out a very complicated set of circumstances which involve, in part, freeing her Chinese cousin from an unprincipled man to whom Fei Yen’s father has sold her. (The American West wasn’t a good place for any women, it would seem.)

The continuing stories of Hell’s Eight, a finely tuned group of strong and independent warriors with the Texas Rangers are some of Sarah McCarty’s finest. Strong, Alpha-type men who have come through hell–thus the name–as their families were massacred and their community plundered, barely surviving and only with the help of a few individuals who reached out to them. Now they are each having to deal with their inner demons, and none more troubled that Michael (Shadow) Ochoa, a man of strange extremes and one who is not afraid to show strength one minute and tenderness the next to strangers, but is scared stiff of opening his heart to a little Chinese American woman who is wise beyond her years and who loves him without reserve. The only thing she insists on is complete honesty and her fearless pursuit of the real person who is Shadow Ochoa is almost his undoing and the death of the tenuous relationship they call a frontier marriage.

I have long delighted in Ms McCarty’s stories after having read one of her other American Western historical series and found her writing to be stimulating to the imagination and a treat for the brain, but also heart warming and resonating with genuine human qualities, with characters that speak of the best and worst that people can be. She does not paint the American West with a gilded brush, choosing to deal realistically with persons and situations that often existed outside both legal and moral boundaries which celebrating relationships that could only have existed where a greater amount of legal and moral freedom was to be found. Life was hard and it was even harder for women. Consider that a woman was of mixed race, and she was even more invisible and thought to be even less of a person of worth. Yet this story’s heroine knows how to deal with the issues she knows are hers, the burdens of society’s prejudice, and yet she is willing to beggar herself in many ways in order to bring the best to this man whose inner wounds have never turned him loose.

Lastly, the continuing story of the loyalty and friendship that binds Hells’ Eight together form a very important part of this story. For each of these men and especially for Shadow, their relationship, their support, their friendship and regard are his true “home.” And even in the darkest moments of this novel, the existence of those ties are what keep Shadow sane and possibly just a little hopeful. Best of all, each of these men can be trusted to do whatever it takes to do right by one another, even if that means telling truths that don’t want to be heard, crashing into situations where their presence can be unwanted, or dragging one of their compatriots out of circumstances where they wrongly choose to be. They are, in a word, true friends. As an ancient text proclaims: “Greater love has no man than this: that a man will lay down his life for a friend.” Such a love is at the heart of this story.

Don’t miss this one. It is truly a keeper. I give it a rating of 4.5 out of 5.

The series:
Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover

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

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