Tag Archive | American Frontier

SATURDAY SPOTLIGHT: The Queen of Paradise Valley by Cat Dubie

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Diana Rennie, daughter of a wealthy rancher, attempts to persuade mystery man Del Russell to leave his grievances behind and forgive her father for past mistakes. Her careful plan goes awry and results in a shotgun wedding and a prison sentence for Del.

Four years later, Del is back in her life with a vengeance—back for his rightful share of Diana’s ranch, back to prove he isn’t the criminal she thought he was, back to finish what the two of them started years ago in a passionate daze. And he isn’t going anywhere, no matter what beautiful, treacherous Diana does or says to try to get rid of him.

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EXCERPT

Proper ladies didn’t go calling on men alone, even in a safe town like Rennieville. She needed to douse his suspicion. If he saw her as a friend and ally, her chances of success would increase, wouldn’t they? Though she’d never tasted whiskey, she said, “Yes, I’ll have a drink.” A surprised frown notched his brow. She added, “If you put on a shirt.”

“Only business I’m interested in is bed business. Why would I get dressed just to undress again?” Eyes skeptical, he offered her the bottle.

Very well. She wouldn’t look at his chest, however tanned and hard-muscled, however taut and—oh, damn. She lifted the bottle to her lips and swallowed a big mouthful, then gagged and coughed as the whiskey boiled up in her throat.

He jerked the bottle away and held it to the light. “Take it easy.”

Eyes watering, she forced the liquor down and composed herself. A deep breath, a nervous swallow. Yes, better. Her face and body hot, she doffed her gloves and cape, dropped them on a chair, and swept a hand across her burning brow.

His gaze again moved from her feet to her head, pausing on her silky white shirt. “Did the old man send you, China Doll?” A silver flare beneath those thick lashes, a quick feral show of teeth. He took another, longer drink and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.

She took a steadying breath. “My name is Diana. Miss Rennie to you.” Did that sound too challenging? “Um, my father doesn’t know I’m here.” She sensed his rising animosity and forced herself to meet his belligerent gaze. They must seem to be on the same side. “He hasn’t been himself since the day you came to our house.”

“Must be his conscience getting after him. He tell you how he caused my father’s death?”

“He told me nothing. Whatever Owen did—”

His black brows lifted. “Owen?”

“Owen. My father.” Defensiveness would only stir his hostility. Time for a little history, enough perhaps to gain some sympathy. She paced a slow circle. “I was born on the ranch. When I was three, my mother took me to New York. I returned nearly four months ago upon Mother’s passing.” Seeking his gaze, she added, a small throb in her voice, “I was lost all those years, lost in a big cold city until I found my home again and my beloved father.” She swallowed. “Yet—I couldn’t call him that, so we settled on his given name for now.”

Was there even a smidgen of empathy in his eyes? She couldn’t tell by his stony expression. He set the bottle down with a thump and leaned back against the table, arms out at the sides, hands resting palm down on the plank surface. The lantern dropped a beacon of light on him, capturing her attention despite her vow not to look at his body. There was insolence in his stance, an overt display of virility. She stared at his muscular thighs and the coarse hairs rising above his breeches.

“Yeah, it’s a sad story. I’ve got one too, because when I was ten I watched your old man send my father to his death. But you, miss well-bred, didn’t come here to chat about your past. What’s your real reason for this visit?” He picked up the bottle and took a deep swallow, eyes on her the entire time.

Controlled anger seemed to roll off him in waves. This wasn’t working as she had planned. She stepped to him. “May I have another drink?”
He passed her the bottle, then crossed his arms over his chest and watched her. Eyes squeezed shut, she took another mouthful and felt the same slow burn as before. She managed not to gag this time but couldn’t stop from grimacing.

“All right.” She spoke with careful precision. “Mr. Russell, um, Del, when you said you might kill Owen, I grew afraid. Terribly afraid. I came here to appeal to you to leave Rennieville, leave my father in peace. He—he’s very torn up about this business. He’s remorseful and sad and ashamed, and—oh—it breaks my heart to see him that way.” Was this working? One more mouthful of whiskey. God, it was awful. She shuddered and scrubbed her mouth with the heel of her hand.

He grabbed the bottle and set it away. “You’ll be on the floor if you keep drinking.”

She gazed at him with what she assumed was earnest trust, her hands clasped as if in prayer. “Will you leave town? What would your father want you to do?” Damn. Did that sound right? Her cheeks burned hotter. Would a tear be too much? Shouldn’t have had that last drink. She was losing direction, grasping for words. “Um, didn’t you say he forgave Owen? Can’t you do that too, for your father?”

Outside, the rising wind gusted around the eaves and skidded along the roof, flapping loose wooden shingles. He looked up and listened to the low thrum of the wind as if it were speaking to him.

“And,” she added, “you can look for his remains. Why, I’ll help you.”

He stared at her. “Hell, you must really want me gone.”

“I—I want peace for my father. Can you understand that?”

Another gust of wind scuffled the shingles and tossed some to the ground, while in the stove burning wood crackled and hissed. He rubbed a hand over his chin and up the side of his face. He was thinking, considering, weighing; his jaw tightened, then relaxed. “The hardest thing in the world is watching your father die. After all these years it’s damn hard to let it go—”

A chink had formed in his armor. Time to strike. Her voice soft, she said, “But you will, won’t you?” She thrust out her hand.

“You’ve had enough.”

“No. I want us to shake hands on our agreement that you’ll leave.”

One side of his mouth twitched into a half-smile. “If it’ll get rid of you so I can go back to bed…” He clasped her hand, his palm rough and calloused, and she felt a curious vibration in her fingers. Their gazes locked, and she was transfixed by his eyes of pebbled slate webbed with silver. Without another word he placed her palm flat on his chest and covered it with his hand.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Cat Dubie moved to Canada from Austria at the age of four, grew up on the wide-open prairies, and traveled extensively through cowboy country. An avid reader and writer since young, when she read her first historical romance she knew what she must write. After raising three children and working as a technical writer for the government, she moved with her family to the Pacific coast and follows her dream of sharing her stories.

Sawbones by Melissa Lenhardt

Sawbones

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Outlander meets post-Civil War unrest in this fast-paced historical debut.

When Dr. Catherine Bennett is wrongfully accused of murder, she knows her fate likely lies with a noose unless she can disappear. Fleeing with a bounty on her head, she escapes with her maid to the uncharted territories of Colorado to build a new life with a new name. Although the story of the murderess in New York is common gossip, Catherine’s false identity serves her well as she fills in as a temporary army doctor. But in a land unknown, so large and yet so small, a female doctor can only hide for so long.

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Publisher and Release Date: Redhook, 29 March 2016

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: America, 1871
Genre: Romantic Historical Fiction
Heat Level: 1
Reviewer Rating: 4.5 stars

Review by Jill

When Dr Catherine Bennett is falsely accused of murdering one of her patients, she flees New York City with her maid. There’s little chance of a fair hearing, since the murdered man’s wife has influential connections, and a conviction seems certain. With a bounty on her head, she travels to Texas and from there decides that the wilds of Colorado may be her best chance to hide out with a new identity. So Dr Catherine Bennett becomes Dr Laura Elliston.

Set in 1871, the fictional story of Laura Elliston is embedded in actual historical events of that year, with a number of famous historical figures, like General William Sherman and Quanah Parker, included in the storyline.

If you pick this up thinking Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, you may be disappointed. And shocked. Sawbones is not a light and fluffy historical romance or historical western. The cover, and perhaps the title, may give that impression but, be warned: the book is brutal and violent at times, depicting an era that was often harsh and without mercy.

There are graphic, uncompromising descriptions of massacres, violence – both sexual and physical – and of medical procedures. Racism and sexism abound. People die. These were not politically correct times.

Narrated in first person from Laura’s point-of-view, this is mainly her story. Laura’s father was a doctor-surgeon, and she trained alongside him as his (male) orderly during the war. We’re often reminded how difficult it was for any woman during this era, let alone one as independent and career-minded as Laura.

There are no black and white cardboard cutout characters here. Just as in real life, people are partly good, partly bad, their motives and reactions are not always pure or right. Even the main characters are nuanced, displaying at times less-than-stellar attitudes and characteristics. Laura is strong, independent and intelligent. She can also be rash, quick-tempered and unsympathetic towards the Native American population, whom she fears.

There is a romance, but it’s not the focus of the story and in fact, since it’s not mentioned in the blurb, I wasn’t even sure who Laura’s love interest would be. Her first meeting with him is as original as it is unexpected. He is charming, handsome, kind and honorable. And in true heroic form is willing to do his all to protect Laura, no matter the cost.

The blurb says: Outlander meets post-Civil War unrest…

Of all the books over recent years that have lured me in by playing the Outlander card, this is the first one I’ve read that actually lives up to the sales pitch. Not that Sawbones is Outlander exactly. After all we’re talking America in 1871, not the Scottish Highlands of 1743 .

But like Outlander, Sawbones is historical fiction, minus the time-travel. It is told in first-person from the heroine’s PoV. There is a love story. And like Outlander, the story is captivating, well-written, well-researched, set within real historical events, contains lots of details about medical procedures and vivid descriptions of the setting and era. Like Diana Gabaldon, Ms Lenhardt doesn’t pull any punches about the brutality and violence of the times. The heroine is a doctor like Claire. (Laura is thankfully, more likable.)

However, the romance is lighter, and the characterisation of the hero not quite as in-depth as Jamie Fraser, so raders looking for the depth of passion of the Outlander protagonists may be left wanting. The romance is definitely there, but it’s less to the fore.

I did have some minor issues with the story which is why it isn’t getting a straight 5 stars. Laura really should have kept her qualifications as a doctor under wraps. A female doctor in this era is going to draw attention, and that was the last thing she needed when she was on the run. Near the end in the final showdown with the villain, there were some clichéd and unnecessary turns before he was finally dealt with.

If you want a sanitised look at the Old West where nothing bad happens, where people don’t die and where atrocities are glossed over, this may not be the book for you. This is the first in a trilogy, I believe, with book two, Blood Oath due out later in the year. Sawbones doesn’t exactly end on a cliffhanger – it’s more of a to-be-continued. There are a number of threads that need to be tied off and number of characters whose continuing stories need to be told, not the least of which is how the main characters’ are going to get their happily-ever-after.

For readers who enjoy straight historical fiction, romantic historical fiction and American historicals, and an ongoing series with the same couple, Sawbones is highly recommended.

RETRO REVIEW: Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

redeeming love

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California’s gold country, 1850. A time when men sold their souls for a bag of gold and women sold their bodies for a place to sleep.

Angel expects nothing from men but betrayal. Sold into prostitution as a child, she survives by keeping her hatred alive. And what she hates most are the men who use her, leaving her empty and dead inside.

Then she meets Michael Hosea, a man who seeks his Father’s heart in everything. Michael obeys God’s call to marry Angel and to love her unconditionally. Slowly, day by day, he defies Angel’s every bitter expectation, until despite her resistance, her frozen heart begins to thaw.

But with her unexpected softening comes overwhelming feelings of unworthiness and fear. And so Angel runs. Back to the darkness, away from her husband’s pursuing love, terrified of the truth she no longer can deny: Her final healing must come from the One who loves her even more than Michael does…the One who will never let her go.

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Publisher and Release Date: Multnomah Books, July, 2009

RHR Classifications:
Genre: Inspirational Romantic Historical Fiction
Setting: 1850s, California
Heat Level: 1.5
Reviewer Rating: 4 Stars

Review by Jill

Redeeming Love is one of those must-read romances worth reading at least once and is based on the Book of Hosea from the Bible, where God tells the prophet Hosea to marry the prostitute, Gomer. Here we have Michael Hosea, a farmer being told by God to marry Angel, a local whore in the 1850s goldfields of California.

Author Francine Rivers wrote historical romances and historical fiction before she became a Born-Again Christian. Originally written in 1991, Redeeming Love bridges the gap between the writing of her original romances and her later Christian fiction and it exists in two versions. The 1997 version is basically the same as the original, but was edited to remove any descriptive love scenes and coarse language to make it suitable for the Christian market. The original does contain some coarse language (for instance, “son of a bitch”, “damn”, “bastard”, etc.) and some descriptive love scenes, not contained in the second version. Nevertheless, both versions contain the same plot. For those who prefer a ‘clean’ read, then the edited, or Christian version, may be preferable.

Although the story is peppered throughout with Bible verses I don’t think they’re intrusive. It is, after all, a Christian story, based on a book of the Bible and written by a Christian. But it is one of those rare novels that though based on a story from the Bible, manages to captivate an audience who may not claim any Christian beliefs.

Redeeming Love is a widely read and hugely successful novel and is Ms Rivers’ most popular work. However, the prose is average at best, the historical setting adequate. The stubbornness of Angel in refusing to accept Michael’s love and her consequent running off is overdone and tiresome. Michael himself often forces Angel to do his bidding, believing as he does that it’s for her best, and so their relationship comes across as patronising and paternalistic at times.

Some of his thoughts and reactions are not those of a Godly man. Some of the tragedies that beset Angel’s wretched life seem gratuitous. Francine Rivers seemingly wanted to heap mankind’s collective sin onto the head of this poor woman. Some of the scenes are unnecessarily explicit. The conclusion is way too neat with its fairy-tale ending.

It can be at times depressing, heart-wrenching, horrifying and preachy. Yet, it is also uplifting, glorifying, hope-filled and romantic.

Despite some reservations, Redeeming Love is still a worthy read for lovers of Christian fiction and for lovers of romance. This book is so popular, so highly rated and reviewed that it’s worth reading just the once, even if you don’t end up loving it. Because despite its flaws, for me it still manages to resonate with the ideal of true love and the romantic notions that love conquers all.

This Heart for Hire by Elysa Hendricks

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Blurb:

A convent reared innocent and a gunslinger with no memory struggle to survive and find love while crossing the dangerous west Texas frontier.

Abandoned by his father and betrayed by his half-brother and fiancée on the eve of his wedding, Jake Gallagher no longer believes in love. Though he longs to go home, his undercover work for the Texas Rangers keeps him in a lawless Texas border town. Even though it jeopardizes his mission he refuses to stand by and watch outlaws rape and murder a young woman. Getting shot and losing his memory wasn’t part of his plan.

While fleeing from her stepfather’s plans to steal their ranch, Christina Goodwin witnesses her brother’s murder and is left in the hands of a merciless band of outlaws. Raised in a strict convent, Christina has little knowledge of men or the world, its dangers and temptations. Frightened and alone, she is forced to accept the help of the dark gunslinger who rescues her. Though drawn to Jake’s potent masculinity, she hesitates to trust him, fearing her stepfather has sent him to bring her back. Unsure of Jake’s motives for helping her, she struggles against him, determined to find a way to avenge her brother’s death and regain control of her ranch from her stepfather.

Publisher and Release Date:  Self-Published, 12 August 2011
RHL Classifications:

Time and Setting:  Wild West/Post Civil War
Genre:  Western Romance
Heat Level:  2
Reviewer Rating:  4 stars

Review by Susan

Elysa Hendricks takes the reader to Santa Fe, New Mexico, in her western romance This Heart for Hire.  The year is 1870 and the hostilities between American homesteaders and Native American Indians continue to rage as pioneers stake claims on uncharted land out west and prospectors pan for gold and silver.  It’s a story that takes place in the Wild West when professions like gunslinger, prospector, bandit and Texas Ranger were as common as today’s security guard, entrepreneur, crime lord and police officer.

It’s a time in which Hendricks describes the men as either honorable and compassionate or grotesquely perverse, dishonorable, and calculative.  She epitomizes these two extremes in the male characters as well as in the female roles who are depicted as either feral alley cats or genteel damsels.  These extremes are identifiable to the reader who is introduced to characters that are the image of pure evil or a portrait of wholesomeness and strength.

Hidden away in a convent, Christina St. Clair, born Christina Goodwin, is rescued by her brother, Christopher, from her step-father’s scheme to secure control of her deceased mother’s ranch by marrying Christina and killing Christopher.  Along their way St. Louis to stay with their uncle, Christopher is murdered by a Mexican bandit named Rico Alvarez, leaving Christina unprotected in an unruly land.

Stepping into Christopher’s stead is Jake Gallagher, a rancher who is working with a Texas Ranger to discover the identity of Rico’s gun supplier.  The bandit is illegally selling arms to rebel Indians.  It is later learned that the supplier is also the man who killed Jake’s mother and is tied into Christina’s plight.  In an effort to build suspense, Hendricks makes the evil characters excessively malicious.  Her involvement with them is superficial leading the reader to believe that some people are born to be cruel and malevolent.

Tension rises between Jake and Christina of a sexual nature.  Jake is sensitive to Christina’s feelings and has a sensual touch.  Christina is curious about the physical attraction she feels towards Jake and is eager to explore this craving, but she shows meekness in overcoming her fear of riding horses and recoils from defending herself against abusive men.  Her character depicts the gently bred women of this time period but as a result, she is not necessarily someone that modern women can easily relate to.

There is an intense showdown between Jake and Rico, and then between Jake and Christina’s step-father.  Both are done in typical Wild West regalia in the vane of Hollywood’s spaghetti westerns.

This Heart for Hire works the reader’s heart into a frenzy each time Christina’s life is in danger and consumes the reader in a quixotic lure when Jake is with her.  The Wild West might be too rugged at times for contemporary tastes but an honorable man like Jake Gallagher is built perfectly for fans of romantic historical novels.

The Double Cross by Carla Kelly

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Blurb:

The year is 1780, and Marco Mondragon is a brand inspector in the royal Spanish colony of New Mexico. A widower and rancher, Marco lives on the edge of Comancheria, the domain of the fierce Comanche. Each autumn, he takes cattle and wool, and his district’s records of livestock transactions to the governor in Santa Fe. he is dedicated, conscientious and lonely. This year, he is looking for a little dog to keep his feet warm through cold winter nights. He finds a yellow dog but also meets a young, blue-eyed beauty named Paloma Vega. Paloma is under the thumb of relatives who might have stolen a brand belonging to Paloma’s parents, dead in a Comanche raid. As a brand inspector, Marco has every right to be suspicious of brand thieves. If Marco has anything to do with it, Paloma’s fortunes are about to change. Meanwhile, Marco has other challenges to contend with. An elderly ranchero named Joaquin Munoz has set in motion events that involve the ever-dangerous Comanches and threaten the uneasy peace of Marco’s jurisdiction. Set against the mountains and high plains of northeastern New Mexico during the decline of Spanish power in the New World, The Double Cross is a story of loss and love regained, at a time when honor went hand in glove with bravery, and danger was never far away.

Publisher and release date: Camel Press 1 August 2013
Time and Setting: New Mexico, 1780
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 1.5
Reviewer Rating: 5 stars

Reviewed by Lady Blue

If I were to choose a time and place to read about, it would not be New Mexico in 1780. I prefer my locations and society to be settled and civilized. Why then, would I choose this book? Two words – Carla Kelly. I have yet to be disappointed by anything she has written, and this is no exception. She weaves historical facts so tightly and so interestingly into her stories, you don’t even realize how much information you’re absorbing.

Marco is thirty one years old. His wife and twin sons died of an illness when he was only twenty-three, and was on his annual trip. He has lived a solitary life since then. This year, his trip includes an extra stop to meet the betrothed of his friend and neighbor. Said betrothed appears to be a shrew, with a horrible family, with the exception of her cousin. Paloma (the cousin) is living with her relatives because she is orphaned. Her family was brutally killed by Comanches during a raid on her home. Her mother managed to hide her so she would be safe. Her relatives treat her as a servant, and barely feed her. We later learn that they may have done even worse.

Marco and Paloma meet. He thinks of her as the girl with the beautiful blue eyes, and she thinks of him as the handsome man with the light brown eyes. Although Marco has no initial plans to further their acquaintance, a small yellow dog, and a couple of unusual priests set events in motion to bring them together. The plan works. The couple marry, and we get to share their burgeoning romance. The bedroom door is basically closed to us, but the implication is that much time is spent behind those doors, and it’s quality time.

Along with the good, comes the bad. Marco has to deal with his fear of ever being away from Paloma, worrying that she may become ill, as his first wife did. Paloma, of course, is going to come face to face with a Comanche, and have to make a life or death decision. Life at this time was hard and unpredictable, and this beautiful love story interwoven with history makes for an outstanding read.

An Unlikely Alliance (House of Renwick #2.5) by Rachel Van Dyken

 

Published: February 2012

Publisher’s Blurb:

Spoiled New York rogue Royce Mc Arthur lives a charmed life. He sees no reason to settle down, until his mother issues her decree that he must grow up, find a wife and produce some grandchildren…preferably before she dies of old age. But his choices are quite limited considering the only women of his acquaintance are ones of ill repute.

Meeting the beautiful Evelyn DeJarlias at a ball gives him hope he may have found the one. Her southern blue collar outspokenness and lack of refinement draws him like a moth to a flame. Unfortunately, she does not find him nearly as endearing — consistently refusing his lavish gifts and his attentions, she poses a challenge he simply cannot ignore.

When his mother and her widowed father begin to keep company together secretly, it provides the perfect excuse for him to spend time with Miss DeJarlias

But figures from Royce’s past threaten to destroy the blossoming love between the couple. Evelyn must decide if she is willing to trust the man or hold his past indiscretions against him.

Tags: Romance, Historical, Funny, New York

Time Frame: New York, 1814

Heat Level: 1

REVIEW RATING : 5 stars

REVIEW BY LEE ANNE:

Oh my goodness! I had the extreme privilege of picking this book up for free from Amazon and am I ever glad I did! It’s funny and sweet and romantic. I loved it!

Royce is a rake who has been ordered by his mother to get married in 4 months. None of the women in New York hold any interest for him. Then he meets Evelyn. Evelyn is a breath of fresh air. She grew up in Louisiana on a farm. When her father was able to sell their farm for a lot of money, they move to New York so Evelyn could be launched into society.

Royce decides he wants Evelyn as his wife. None of his usual seduction techniques work on Evelyn. She doesn’t want jewelry, flowers, or any other gifts. She just wants to enjoy life. He sets out to win her over by spying on his mother and her father, who are meeting in secret. Along the way they fall in love.

But the world is not all roses. Evelyn catches Royce coming out of a house of ill repute. Now she’s mad. How will he win her back?

This was a very humorous story that had me giggling throughout. I plan to get the rest of this series and read them all. I find Ms. Van Dyken to have a wicked sense of humor in her writing!

**At the time of review this book was available from Amazon for $1.99**

ABOUT THE REVIEWER:

I am a happily married mother of three very busy children.  Most of my time is spent chauffeuring my kids to their various activities. I cram reading into any spare moment I have. Some days I can have an hour or two and others I’m sneaking in quick reads while waiting on the kids to finish their soccer or gymnastics practice. I like to read a wide variety of genres but I definitely prefer romance. I can’t really pinpoint a favorite author as it changes on a regular basis. I absolutely love finding new authors and giving their stories a chance to be heard. We all have a voice in our heads writing stories and those voices should be given a chance to be heard.

His Dark Desires (Trevelyan #2) by Jennifer St. Giles

 

Published: December 29, 2011

Publisher’s Blurb:

You are in danger. Trust no one. The terrifying words from a mysterious letter echo in Juliet Bucheron’s mind. Destitute ever since her husband disappeared in the Civil War, Juliet has turned her New Orleans ancestral home into a boarding house—despite the rumors of ghosts, the whispers of scandal, and the stain of murder. But even more unsettling is Juliet’s new tenant, a handsome stranger named Stephen Trevelyan.

Wealthy, educated, and seductively compelling, Stephen fills Juliet’s heart with uncontrollable longing—and her head with suspicion. Something, she senses, is lurking beneath the surface. And someone is stalking the hallways after midnight. As the danger draws nearer, Juliet wonders if she can really trust Stephen. But as he pulls her closer, she knows she cannot resist him…no matter what the price.

Tags: Romance, Historical, Suspense, New Orleans, Paranormal, Ghost

Time Frame: New Orleans, 1874

Heat Level: 2

REVIEW RATING : 4 stars

REVIEW BY LEE ANNE:

I happened to be lucky enough to pick this wonderful book up for free. And what a wonderful surprise! I quickly found myself immersed in a post-civil war New Orleans filled with hardship, mystery, romance, passion and a little murder thrown in for good measure.

Juliet is a wonderful heroine who has done so much to keep her home and family together after the civil war has ravaged their home and community. She’s done everything she can to raise her son on her own as she faces the reality that her husband abandoned them and ran off with thousands in gold.  While trying to survive all of these hardships, she’s faced with a mystery as she’s told to trust no one and that she’s in danger.

Stephen comes along to be a boarder in her house and adds to the mystery and confusion she’s facing. Juliet is so attracted to Stephen but since she’s still married to her husband she refuses to give in to that temptation. Stephen pursues her. But as much as he wants her, he insists she come to him. He is an honorable man and will do anything to protect her from harm. While Juliette relies on Stephen to protect her, she is by no means a damsel in distress. She is smart about her safety without being weak.

Jennifer St. Giles did an amazing job of bringing the Post-Civil War trials to surface in this book. She managed to show how families were devastated by the Civil War and the steps they were forced to take to survive. She did this in a way that showed how strong these people were without making them into whiny complainers. They accepted what happened and did the best they could.

I also really liked how Ms. St. Giles brought in women’s suffrage. It was very subtle in it’s introduction but it’ affect was profound in the story. She managed to show how women in the time believed and fought for suffrage but were often unable to make those changes in their every day lives.

I was drawn in by the mystery in the book. I was surprised by who was committing these murders. The mystery was so well written that no one was the obvious murderer, yet they were all suspects! They all had reason to commit these murders.

While I’m not normally a big fan of ghost stories, the ghost in this story really added something. Juliette could not figure out if the presence was friend or foe. It was a mystery to be solved. In the end we find out who the ghost is and what it wants.

This was an amazing story and I feel lucky to have found it!

**At the time of review this book was available from Amazon for $2.99**

ABOUT THE REVIEWER:

I am a happily married mother of three very busy children.  Most of my time is spent chauffeuring my kids to their various activities. I cram reading into any spare moment I have. Some days I can have an hour or two and others I’m sneaking in quick reads while waiting on the kids to finish their soccer or gymnastics practice. I like to read a wide variety of genres but I definitely prefer romance. I can’t really pinpoint a favorite author as it changes on a regular basis. I absolutely love finding new authors and giving their stories a chance to be heard. We all have a voice in our heads writing stories and those voices should be given a chance to be heard.

The Mistress of Trevelyan (Trevelyan Series #1) by Jennifer St. Giles

 

Published: December 29, 2011

Publisher’s Blurb:

The manor behind the mists….The man behind the mystery.In 1873 San Francisco, spirited Ann Lovell takes a position no one else dares — as governess to the motherless sons of the enigmatic Benedict Trevelyan. It has long been whispered that Trevelyan Manor hides dark secrets and sinister deeds — including the murder of Benedict’s wife. But Ann refuses to pay heed to spiteful rumor.

As she grows to cherish her young charges, Ann also finds herself powerfully drawn to the handsome Benedict, whose passionate persuasion introduces her to a new world of sensual pleasures. But even while falling in love with the master of Trevelyan, Ann wonders if his attentions are intended to blind her to the secrets of the past — and if Benedict holds he key to her destiny…or her destruction. 

Tags: Romance, Historical, Suspense, American West

Time Frame: San Francisco, 1873

Heat Level: 2

REVIEW RATING : 3.5 stars

REVIEW BY LEE ANNE:

I actually read the second book in this series first and decided to go back to read this one and get the rest of the story. While I thoroughly enjoyed this book I did have a hard time getting in to it. It started out so wonderful and full of suspense and then started lagging. After a few chapters it did pick back up and I flew through the remainder of the book.

Ms. St. Giles has wonderful heroines and Ann Lovell is no exception! Ann has faced some horrible hardships in life, none of which were her doing. These are hardships that society and her absent father have placed on her. In spite of this, she continues to be positive and take charge of her future. She refuses to let anything keep her down.

Benedict is trapped and tortured by what happened to his first wife with the rumors surrounding her death. He’s doing everything he can to raise his sons and keep the family business thriving. He’s attracted to Ann but feels he only has dishonor to offer anyone, so he stays away.

Ann takes the position of governess in the Trevelyan household. She falls in love with the boys, Justin and Robert as well as Benedict, their father. She desperately tries to deny her attraction to Benedict, but as circumstance after circumstance puts them together, she finally takes charge of her destiny, consequences be damned.

During all of this, Ann deals with Benedict’s family treating her as an unwelcome insect, someone going through her personal items, and threats on her life. Ann keeps her practicality around her and continues to face these problems head on. She refuses to be a victim!

I really enjoyed this book and I look forward to reading more from Ms. St. Giles. I would have liked for the suspense in this book to be a bit more prominent in the story. There was a lull in the story when Ann was settling into her role as governess and getting to know the boys, Justin and Robert.

San Francisco provides a wonderful backdrop to this story. We get to watch the story unfold as women are fighting for equal rights, steamboats are becoming more prominent and let’s not forget the horseless carriage!

I was completely surprised at who the villain was in the story. I was not expecting that at all! It was well done as I had the same information as the characters in the book but didn’t see it coming. I was extremely pleased by the outcome of both the mystery and the love story!

I did read the second book prior to the first one. It’s not necessary to read them in order, as they are independent stories. However, having read the second book first, I already knew several things about the Trevelyan family. This may have contributed to me having a difficult time getting into the story.

**At the time of review this book was available from Amazon for $2.99**

ABOUT THE REVIEWER:

I am a happily married mother of three very busy children.  Most of my time is spent chauffeuring my kids to their various activities. I cram reading into any spare moment I have. Some days I can have an hour or two and others I’m sneaking in quick reads while waiting on the kids to finish their soccer or gymnastics practice. I like to read a wide variety of genres but I definitely prefer romance. I can’t really pinpoint a favorite author as it changes on a regular basis. I absolutely love finding new authors and giving their stories a chance to be heard. We all have a voice in our heads writing stories and those voices should be given a chance to be heard.

Maiden Behind the Mask by Tara Chevrestt

 

Published: August, 2012

Publisher’s Blurb:

When Catalina Rodriguez is attacked by a would-be rapist and rescued by the dashing Ricardo Garcia, she not only becomes more aware of the handsome man, but also vows that she’ll never be a damsel in distress again. Using the timeless method of blackmail, she convinces her uncle to teach her to fight and becomes a masked crusader in the night, saving other damsels from robbers and rough handling.

However, scandalous rumors and dwindling funds force Ricardo and Catalina to marry. Not immune to each other’s charms, their marriage starts fiery, but when one of Catalina’s nightly escapades results in dire consequences, she is forced to spurn her husband’s amorous advances…or reveal a secret that could turn him away from her forever.

Ricardo’s not a man to be cuckolded or left in the dark. Is his wife having an affair with El Capitan, the masked savior? If so…they will both pay.

Tags: Romance, Historical, Spanish Influence

Time Frame: 1820’s – American Frontier – Los Angeles

Heat Level: 1.5

REVIEW RATING : 3.5 stars

REVIEW BY LEE ANNE:

It took me a little extra time to fall into the story of the Maiden Behind the Mask as Tara Chevrestt’s writing style is a little different than I am used to. Her writing is a bit more formal than most writers of this genre. That being said, once I adjust the way I read to meet her writing style, I fell into the story and couldn’t put it down. I found myself pulled in by Ricardo and Catalina.

Catalina was a breath of fresh air to me. She started out as your typical wellborn lady. She used a parasol to protect her skin, she didn’t know how to defend herself, and she did as her parents asked her to. When she was attacked in an alley, she decided to not be helpless anymore. She took matters into her own hand and learned how to defend herself. She went on to take it one step further and seek out those that would harm others. The entire time she did this, she managed to keep everyone around her from finding out, for a while.

Ricardo Garcia is not your typical hero from most romances either. While he’s a handsome man, he’s not being chased and fawned over by all the eligible women in town. He comes across as your slightly above average gentleman.

I really liked that about both of these characters. They are more real, closer to what most of us encounter on the street. That’s refreshing to me after reading so many books with the MC being fawned over by the opposite sex. Don’t get me wrong, I still love MCs that are to do die for and drop dead gorgeous alpha characters. I just found this to be a breath of fresh air!

There was a bit of tension in the book between the MCs. I like tension. The tension that arises between Ricardo and Catalina is real and not contrived. It flowed nicely with the story and was completely believable. The resolution to this tension worked nicely with the story as well. I didn’t feel it was too easy or contrived.

This is a fabulous short story and I look forward to reading more from Tara!

Maiden Behind the Mask is available for $3.99

ABOUT THE REVIEWER:

I am a happily married mother of three very busy children.  Most of my time is spent chauffeuring my kids to their various activities. I cram reading into any spare moment I have. Some days I can have an hour or two and others I’m sneaking in quick reads while waiting on the kids to finish their soccer or gymnastics practice. I like to read a wide variety of genres but I definitely prefer romance. I can’t really pinpoint a favorite author as it changes on a regular basis. I absolutely love finding new authors and giving their stories a chance to be heard. We all have a voice in our heads writing stories and those voices should be given a chance to be heard.