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Lassoed by the Would-Be Rancher–capturing a cowgirl’s heart

Lassoed by the Would-Be Rancher

by Melinda Curtis

Lassoed by the Would-Be rancherShane Monroe wants so badly to save the little town of Second Chance for both selfish and unselfish personal reasons. He wants to put his expertise in business to work with creative ideas to attract tourists to the area. Shane encounters local resistance; and while he works to smooth things over, he meets Franny, a widow with three children who owns the Bucking Bull Ranch. Franny and Shane share an attraction and admire each other’s skill sets, but are sure that a relationship would have no future.

This romance is packed with danger in the form of massive, feral bulls. It has likable characters who struggle with parent/adult child relationship issues. There is somewhat of a mystery too as Shane tries to establish a basis for historical significance for the town. Is the tale of Merciless Mike Moody a myth? Is there really gold buried in the mountain?

Franny’s children are typical video-game loving boys, but they have learned early, from living on a ranch, that country living requires taking on a lot of responsibility from an early age. We meet several more of the diverse group of Monroe cousins in Lassoed by the Would-Be Rancher.

I had a great time reading this book and learned a lot about bulls and rodeo. The ending is very sweet but don’t skip ahead or it won’t make sense. “Good things come to those who wait.” That is good advice for me as I anticipate the next book in the Mountain Monroes Series.

I would like to extend my thanks to Melinda Curtis for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Romance (Clean)

Notes: #4 in the Mountain Monroes Series but works as a standalone. There is a chart showing the family relations and the author provides any background from previous books that is needed.

Publication:   January 1, 2020—Harlequin Heartwarming

Memorable Lines:

Her eyes…They were a soft gray. The gray of baby rabbits, chubby ponies and funeral melancholy.

On Grandpa Harlan’s road trips, they’d stopped to help more strangers than Shane could count. Flat tires. Engine trouble. People caught short, asking for gas money to get to the next town. Grandpa Harlan didn’t discriminate or judge. He treated everyone as if they were trusted equals.

The wind rattled the windowpanes. His gaze rattled her.

A House Divided–historical tale by a Lincoln scholar

A House Divided

by Jonathan F. Putnam

A House DividedI was surprised to find myself trudging through A House Divided by Jonathan F. Putnam, an author with an outstanding legal and historical background. This is the fourth book in this series, but I did not feel that my not having read the previous books was a hindrance. There just seemed to be a disjoint between the history and fiction of the tale. None of the characters were fleshed out with emotion for me, and so I did not identify with any of them. I really wanted to like this book, but it was difficult when  the characters’ motives were rarely disclosed. Lincoln and his friend Speed are competitors for the affections of Mary Todd, but even Mary’s character holds no depth.

The mystery was interesting and based somewhat on history, although the narrator Speed, a major actor in the story, was actually not a part of the real events of the crime and trial. Perhaps that alteration of the facts added to the difficulty of creating an interesting work of historical fiction. Perhaps the problem lies in timidity in assigning thoughts and feelings to major historical figures. Authors may find that easier to do when the main character is either a minor figure on the historical stage or the creation by the author of a composite character based on what a person in that role at that time of history would be like. 

I did appreciate the author’s efforts to include the plight of Irish workers and their families. They were caught in the middle of a web of corruption and greed on the part of politicians and bankers. Another positive of the book is the writer’s style which is appropriate to the period.

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

Rating: 3/5

Category: Historical Fiction, Mystery

Notes: #4 in the Lincoln and Speed Mystery Series 

Publication:   July 9, 2019—Crooked Lane Books

Memorable Lines:

The Globe…As a feeding station for hungry village residents or residence for travelers, it was inferior in every respect to the sparkling new American House. Its only advantage at this point was familiarity, like a pair of shoes that slipped on easily despite worn-away soles.

Springfield…But citizens hoping to find entertainment that did not arrive in a bottle or cask were destined to be disappointed. Except when the circuit court was in session to adjudicate the county’s legal disputes. Then, the entire human condition, comedy and tragedy alike, was on display and free for all to watch.

Every turn in the road, every little rise of the prairie, might reveal a clutch of deadly and determined men, ready to hazard their own lives and reckless to mine.

Murder at the Marina–family secrets

Murder at the Marina

Murder at the Marina

Kelly Jackson grew up on a Wyoming ranch enjoying barrel racing, but moved to Redwood Cove in Northern California where she manages the Redwood Cove B&B and is an honorary member of the Silver Sentinels, a group of senior citizens who solve crime to help their community. In this cozy mystery they are called on to help two of their own, the Russian brothers Rudy and Ivan, who have a cloud of murder over their heads.

This book is replete with Russian culture and some history as the area hosts the Russian Heritage Festival. We also learn of the aristocratic family background of the brothers. The most fun and exciting part of the story is the inclusion of a remarkable Cossack riding team. I felt like I was right there watching their amazing feats. There are many possible suspects, and danger lurks in surprising places. I could read the book again just for the fun and entertainment of the last third, which would be meaningless without the development that occurs in the first part of the book. If you enjoy watching an investigation unfold, read Janet Finsilver’s Murder at the Marina where there are many pathways to the truth and clues for the sleuths to chart as they track down the murderers. 

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

Rating: 4/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #5 in the Kelly Jackson Mystery Series, but worked well for me as a standalone

Publication:   April 2, 2019—Lyrical Underground (Kensington Press)

Memorable Lines:

The smells and sounds of the sea mixed together—an orchestra of sensation. Ocean mist covered my face and my skin tingled from its cool touch.

“You all give generously of your time and your caring. It’s your nature. Accepting a gift is a form of giving.”

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