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Return of the Blackwell Brothers

 

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Join me as I fulfill a commitment to the five authors of the books in the Return of the Blackwell Brothers series to read and review the series by the end of 2018. The deadline is close, there is no penalty if I don’t achieve success, and it is a fun task I look forward to.

I have questions as I go into this reading. Will five different authors be able to maintain continuity in the plot? How much will the characters overlap? Will the authors try to maintain the same style or will they branch out on their own? I don’t ask these questions with one right answer in mind. I am open to watching the series play out according to the authors’ designs.

This series is from a line of Harlequin books called Heartwarming and they are advertised as “wholesome, tender romances.” I don’t appreciate steamy, erotic writing or psychological thrillers. I like books that are engaging, well-written, and within my comfort zone in regards to content and language. I will be looking at these books from that perspective as well as the usual—plot, characters, setting, pace, etc.

As always, thanks for reading my blog and sharing your opinions as well.

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No Way Home–abundant suspense!

No Way Home

by Annette Dashofy

No Way HomeNo Way Home combines elements of a cozy mystery with elements of a thriller, and the result is an excellent read. As a cozy, No Way Home’s main character is Zoe Chambers, a county EMS paramedic and Deputy Coroner, who gets involved in trying to solve a murder when a riderless horse returns to the stable she manages. She is also trying to help her friend Rose find her missing son Logan. Meanwhile, several young people have overdosed in her county, and Zoe’s boyfriend Pete, Chief of Police, is driven to find the dealer. In this book, there are all the components of a good cozy: a likable heroine, a love interest, and a fascinating mystery with lots of threads. In addition, we are exposed to Native American culture as found in the Four Corners area.

No Way Home is also a thriller, however. A crucial characteristic of a thriller is suspense. This book kept me interested and wanting more from start to finish and fearful of what  might happen next. The book has two contrasting settings as it bounces back and forth from Pennsylvania to New Mexico in such a way that the reader wants to keep going with each plot thread in turn, a thread which is dangling just out of reach. It is a book you won’t put aside easily or for long.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Henery Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery, General Fiction (Adult)

Notes: #5 in the Zoe Chambers Mystery Series, reads well as a standalone

Publication:   March 14, 2017–Henery Press

Memorable Lines:

He had an easy smile, a hearty laugh, and a talent for putting everyone at ease, whether they agreed with his politics or not. In addition, Dale was always happy to help with chores even if it meant getting dirty. Not what Zoe had expected from a well-to-do politician.

He held the phone away from his ear. At Rose’s current decibel level, Pete could almost hear her from New Mexico without the device.

Sunrise Canyon–guilt, secrets, and a family’s love

Sunrise Canyon

by Janet Dailey

sunrise-canyonThe sun rises on the Flying Cloud Ranch in Arizona, not too far from Tucson, with beautiful descriptions by Janet Dailey in Sunrise Canyon. The ranch belongs to Dusty, a cowboy in his seventies. Originally a working ranch, with the changing times Flying Cloud became a dude ranch and then evolved into a ranch for troubled teens.  Dusty’s granddaughter Kira is a licensed Equine-Assisted Therapist.  Together they manage the program and raise five year old Paige. The characters have complex backgrounds and relationships. Paige’s mother, Wendy, died in a car accident and her father Jake never returned for her after his last tour of duty in Afghanistan.

Kira and Jake both harbor guilt, but about different situations. The reader is gradually made aware of the causes as the story progresses.  Various interesting plot elements unfold as Jake and Kira get to know and trust each other and as the precocious Paige is drawn to the stranger Jake who has come to work on the ranch.  We also get a glimpse of the side stories of the teenagers who have suffered from trauma, bullying and dysfunctional home situations.

Sunrise Canyon falls right in between General Fiction for adults and a Romance. It is almost as if the genres are dancing, with the fiction storyline taking the lead and then bowing to the tension of the romance. They separate at times and then come to sway and twirl together. I prefer a good plot rather than emphasis on syrupy or steamy romance. I think Sunrise Canyon finds a nice balance with an interesting tale intertwined with  conflicting desires and needs.

Exciting and descriptive, Sunrise Canyon affords a view of PTSD, equine-assisted therapy, and Arizona ranch life.  I found the characters to be sympathetic and I wanted a satisfactory ending for them.  I got that along with some unanticipated adventure.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: General Fiction (Adult), Romance

Notes: 1. mild swearing and sex

2. If you like motorcycles, you will delight in that minor part of the story. (Telling more would be a spoiler for a nice surprise.)

Publication: Kensington Books — February 28, 2017

Memorable Lines:

His eyelids were growing heavy. He was drifting now, his awareness clouding over as if blurred by windswept sand…

The moon was a fading crescent in the western sky, the sun barely streaking the east with the colors of dawn.

The horrors he’d not only witnessed but taken part in were burned into every nerve cell in his body, and woven into the fabric of his soul. They had become the man he was–the man he would be for the rest of his life.

Leaving Independence–Western Romance

Leaving Independence leaving independence

by Leanne Wood Smith

Having just read and reviewed an emotionally difficult nonfiction book, I was ready for something lighter, but engaging.  I found just what I was looking for in Leaving Independence by Leanne Wood Smith.  Independence is the name of the town the Baldwyn family, composed of Abigail and her four children, travels to as the departure point for a wagon train going west.  In an odd turn of events, the father of the family had been reported dead during the early days of the Civil War, but the war is now over and she receives word that he is serving at Fort Hall in the Idaho territory. Abigail is confused that he did not contact her personally, and the family is low on funds with the bank threatening repossession of their home.  A woman of action, she takes her family in search of her missing husband.

There are background stories related to the social and political events surrounding the Civil War and Reconstruction.  Abigail’s friend and former slave, Mimi, is unable to accompany the family on the trip.  The author tells the story with third person narrative and through pieces of letters that Mimi and Abigail exchange during the trip.  She creates an interesting tale with a combination of history, mystery, and romance.  I found the dialogue to be reflective of the characters and the time except for one anachronism.  As the family makes preparations to leave Independence, the teenage daughter, Corrine, is not happy about the trip.  Her mother tells her “you’ll have a much better trip if you decide now to embrace this experience.” “Embrace this experience” strikes me as a modern phrase and not one that is typical of 1866.  The use of this one expression does not ruin the novel for me, and I do recommend it to do what books do best–help you escape into a different time and place.

I would like to thank netgalley.com and Waterfall Press for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an unbiased review.

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