Posted in excerpt, Historical, memoir, nonfiction on February 21, 2018

Title: Fighter Pilot’s Daughter: Growing Up in the Sixties and the Cold War
Author: Mary Lawlor
Publisher: Rowman and Littlefield
Pages: 336
Genre: Memoir
Format: Hardcover/Kindle

FIGHTER PILOT’S DAUGHTER: GROWING UP IN THE SIXTIES AND THE COLD WAR tells the story of the author as a young woman coming of age in an Irish Catholic, military family during the Cold War.  Her father, an aviator in the Marines and later the Army, was transferred more than a dozen times to posts from Miami to California and Germany as the government’s Cold War policies demanded.  For the pilot’s wife and daughters, each move meant a complete upheaval of ordinary life.  The car was sold, bank accounts closed, and of course one school after another was left behind.  Friends and later boyfriends lined up in memory as a series of temporary attachments.  The book describes the dramas of this traveling household during the middle years of the Cold War.  In the process, FIGHTER PILOT’S DAUGHTER shows how the larger turmoil of American foreign policy and the effects of Cold War politics permeated the domestic universe. The climactic moment of the story takes place in the spring of 1968, when the author’s father was stationed in Vietnam and she was attending college in Paris.  Having left the family’s quarters in Heidelberg, Germany the previous fall, she was still an ingénue; but her strict upbringing had not gone deep enough to keep her anchored to her parents’ world.  When the May riots broke out in the Latin quarter, she attached myself to the student leftists and American draft resisters who were throwing cobblestones at the French police. Getting word of her activities via a Red Cross telegram delivered on the airfield in Da Nang, Vietnam, her father came to Paris to find her. The book narrates their dramatically contentious meeting and return to the American military community of Heidelberg.  The book concludes many years later, as the Cold War came to a close.  After decades of tension that made communication all but impossible, the author and her father reunited.  As the chill subsided in the world at large, so it did in the relationship between the pilot and his daughter. When he died a few years later, the hard edge between them, like the Cold War stand-off, had become a distant memory.

Excerpt

The pilot’s house where I grew up was mostly a women’s world.  There were five of us.  We had the place to ourselves most of the time.  My mother made the big decisions–where we went to school, which bank to keep our money in.  She had to decide these things often because we moved every couple of years.  The house is thus a figure of speech, a way of thinking about a long series of small, cement dwellings we occupied as one fictional home.

It was my father, however, who turned the wheel, his job that rotated us to so many different places.  He was an aviator, first in the Marines, later in the Army.  When he came home from his extended absences–missions, they were called–the rooms shrank around him.  There wasn’t enough air.  We didn’t breathe as freely as we did when he was gone, not because he was mean or demanding but because we worshipped him.  Like satellites my sisters and I orbited him at a distance, waiting for the chance to come closer, to show him things we’d made, accept gifts, hear his stories.  My mother wasn’t at the center of things anymore.  She hovered, maneuvered, arranged, corrected.  She was first lady, the dame in waiting.  He was the center point of our circle, a flier, a winged sentry who spent most of his time far up over our heads.  When he was home, the house was definitely his.

These were the early years of the Cold War.  It was a time of vivid fears, pictured nowadays in photos of kids hunkered under their school desks.  My sisters and I did that.  The phrase ‘air raid drill’ rang hard–the double-a sound a cold, metallic twang, ending with ill.  It meant rehearsal for a time when you might get burnt by the air you breathed.

Every day we heard practice rounds of artillery fire and ordinance on the near horizon.  We knew what all this training was for.  It was to keep the world from ending.  Our father was one of many Dads who sweat at soldierly labor, part of an arsenal kept at the ready to scare off nuclear annihilation of life on earth.  When we lived on post, my sisters and I saw uniformed men marching in straight lines everywhere.  This was readiness, the soldiers rehearsing against Armageddon.  The rectangular buildings where the commissary, the PX, the bowling alley and beauty shop were housed had fall out shelters in the basements, marked with black and yellow wheels, the civil defense insignia.  Our Dad would often leave home for several days on maneuvers, readiness exercises in which he and other men played war games designed to match the visions of big generals and political men.  Visions of how a Russian air and ground attack would happen.  They had to be ready for it.

A clipped, nervous rhythm kept time on military bases.  It was as if you needed to move efficiently to keep up with things, to be ready yourself, even if you were just a kid.  We were chased by the feeling that life as we knew it could change in an hour.

About the Author

Mary Lawlor grew up in an Army family during the Cold War.  Her father was a decorated fighter pilot who fought in the Pacific during World War II, flew missions in Korea, and did two combat tours in Vietnam. His family followed him from base to base and country to country during his years of service. Every two or three years, Mary, her three sisters, and her mother packed up their household and moved. By the time she graduated from high school, she had attended fourteen different schools. These displacements, plus her father?s frequent absences and brief, dramatic returns, were part of the fabric of her childhood, as were the rituals of base life and the adventures of life abroad.

As Mary came of age, tensions between the patriotic, Catholic culture of her upbringing and the values of the sixties counterculture set family life on fire.  While attending the American College in Paris, she became involved in the famous student uprisings of May 1968.  Facing her father, then posted in Vietnam, across a deep political divide, she fought as he had taught her to for a way of life completely different from his and her mother’s.

Years of turbulence followed.  After working in Germany, Spain and Japan, Mary went on to graduate school at NYU, earned a Ph.D. and became a professor of literature and American Studies at Muhlenberg College.  She has published three books, Recalling the Wild (Rutgers UP, 2000), Public Native America (Rutgers UP, 2006), and most recently Fighter Pilot’s Daughter: Growing Up in the Sixties and the Cold War (Rowman and Littlefield, September 2013).

She and her husband spend part of each year on a small farm in the mountains of southern Spain.

Her latest book is the memoir, Fighter Pilot’s Daughter: Growing Up in the Sixties and the Cold War.

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Posted in Giveaway, Guest Post, Historical, romance on February 7, 2018

Title: Highland Conquest

Author: Alyson McLayne

Series: The Sons of Gregor MacLeod #2

Pub Date: February 6, 2018

ISBN: 9781492654537

Synopsis

HE WAS LOOKING FOR VENGEANCE

INSTEAD HE FOUND HER

Laird Lachlan MacKay never planned on leading his clan, but when his older brother was murdered, he was left with no choice. His vow to avenge his brother has led him to the MacPherson clan—and their bewitching healer, Amber.

Amber MacPherson is desperate. Dressed as a boy to escape her clan’s treacherous leader, she runs right into Lachlan—who orders her detained. At first, she causes him nothing but frustration, especially when she blackmails him into helping her clan. But when she’s threatened by the same man who murdered his brother, Lachlan will do whatever it takes to keep her safe—and by his side.

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Alyson’s Top Six Romantic Couples

February is fast approaching, and with it come several big events in my life. Not only do my kids turn 6 at the end of the month, but on the actual 6th, my historical romance, HIGHLAND CONQUEST—book 2 in my series THE SONS OF GREGOR MACLEOD—releases to the world! This is a book I can’t wait to hit the stands. The love story between Amber and Lachlan is one of my favorites. Amber is the MacPherson healer who’s had to pretend to be a witch in order to stay safe from her depraved laird while she heals her people. Lachlan’s the laird of his own clan who attacks the MacPhersons in order to bring their laird to justice for killing Lachlan’s brother. When the MacPherson laird escapes, Amber blackmails Lachlan into sticking around and helping her people. She’s outspoken and strong-willed and doesn’t hold anything back in her dealings with her new laird. Lachlan doesn’t hold back, either, and the two of them begin a tumultuous relationship that dances around their physical and mental attraction and drives both of them just a wee bit batty.

February also brings us Valentine’s Day, a favorite holiday for many romance readers! So I decided to celebrate the release of HIGHLAND CONQUEST on February 6th, and Valentine’s Day eight days later, by revealing my top 6 favorite romance couples of all time!

  1. Anne & Gilbert

When I was ten-years-old, my mom gave me the first three Anne of Green Gables books by Lucy Maude Montgomery. I got hooked on Anne’s adventures and all the different characters in Avonlea, including her nemesis, Gilbert Blythe. When they first meet, Gilbert pulls Anne’s braid and teases her about her red hair, calling her “carrots”. She responds by smashing her slate over his head. Thus the relationship between Anne and Gilbert is born, and a rivalry and enmity develop between them that takes years for them to overcome. Along the way, Anne refuses Gilbert’s declaration of love and almost becomes engaged to another man. But finally, she realizes she loves Gilbert too and wishes with all her heart that he’ll say the words again. Which he does, bringing me my first ever Happily Ever After—warm fuzzies and a heartfelt sigh included.

  1. Arwen & Aragorn

Just saying those names leaves me sighing and feeling a little teary and mushy inside (in a good way!). Theirs is a romance for the ages, portrayed beautifully by Liv Tyler and Viggo Mortensen in Peter Jackson’s filmed adaptation of JRR Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings. Arwen, daughter of Lord Elrond of Rivendell, is an immortal elf who falls in love with the mortal Aragorn, heir of Isildur and rightful claimant to the thrones of Arnor and Gondor. In order to be together, Arwen has to give up her immortality and know that she will only die after Aragorn has died. Aragorn tries to dissuade her from being with him, but Arwen will not be swayed, saying: “I would rather share one lifetime with you, than face all the ages of this world alone.” Sigh…

  1. Mac & Barrons

If I had to pick a book boyfriend it would be Barrons from Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series. He. Makes. Me. Shiver—in a good way. He is the epitome of Alpha—strong, dominant, smart, whose only saving grace is that Mac is his everything…even if she doesn’t yet know it. There is no greater bad boy in my opinion. You just know that his reserve and icy control shields a raging inferno beneath. When Mac & Barrons finally get together at the end of book four (and yes, I do know they were together when she was Priya, but that doesn’t count), it’s like he unleashes himself on her. He devours her and she devours him right back. And what makes their love story even twistier, adding more layers to their relationship through the first four books,  is discovering in a later book (Burned, I think) that Jericho Barrons and MacKayla Lane have done the wild deed once before—all night long—and Barrons used magic to erase Mac’s memory of it. Bad. Boy. And here’s the other thing I love… they still call each other Barrons and Miss Lane, same as they always did, unless they’re having sex or in near-death situations. Then it’s Jericho and Mac.

  1. Elizabeth & Mr. Darcy

How can I write a list about my favorite couples and not include Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy? Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is one of the first classic novels that I read and I kept the book in my backpack for many months reading it over and over, when I was at university. Mr. Darcy’s proposal to Elizabeth about halfway through the story is a shock because he’s been nothing but aloof and haughty toward her and her family—in fact, the proposal is filled with condescension about Elizabeth’s lack of social position and wealth compared to his, and he claims it’s an obstacle his love has had to overcome. The scene where Elizabeth rejects him is a favorite of mine—especially the rain-soaked version between Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen. What I love about this scene, is that Mr. Darcy is undone by her. He takes her opinion of him to heart, even though some of her accusations against him are unfounded. She opens his eyes to his lack of kindness and grace and it changes him for the better—makes him into a man that Elizabeth could love.

  1. Han & Leia

I contemplated putting Han Solo and Princess Leia at the top of the list. My brother took me to see Star Wars when it first came out, so technically they were the first couple I met—but at seven, I was too young to truly appreciate the sigh-worthiness of Han and Leia. This is a romance that builds…and builds…and builds amidst verbal sparring and sarcastic jabs until finally near the end of The Empire Strikes Back they kiss—just before Han is yanked away from Leia and frozen alive in carbonite.  Irrepressible bad boy that he is, when Leia says a heartfelt, “I love you,” as they’re securing Han for freezing, Han looks back at her and simply says, “I know.” Gets me every time.

  1. Claire and Jamie

Seeing as I write Highlander romance (and love Highlander romance—big shout out to some of my favorites: Julie Garwood, Monica McCarty, and Karen Marie Moning!) it would be impossible for me NOT to include Claire and Jamie Fraser from Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. She’s created this unforgettable, iconic romance between Jamie and Claire all wrapped up in some of the most interesting and tumultuous times in Scottish history. I’m going to choose to focus on book three, Voyager, for one big reason: the REUNION. Le sigh. You begin the book, knowing that Claire and Jamie will reunite after so many years apart, and then you have to wait…and wait. Or was I the only one who didn’t jump ahead? Finally, Claire walks into Jamie’s shop, and they kiss, but we still have to wait as Jamie grabs the drunken Mr. Willoughby from the pub, gets chased, and takes Claire back to a whore house, before…the moment. It starts with an awkward kiss and nose bump before Jamie takes control and says to Claire, “Give me your mouth, Sassenach.” Excuse me while I melt.

Do you like my list? Did I miss any of your favorites? Please let me know if you agree or disagree with my top 6 favorite romance couples!

About the Author

Alyson McLayne is a mom of twins and an award-winning writer of contemporary, historical and paranormal romance. She’s also a dog lover and cat servant with a serious stash of dark chocolate. After getting her degree in theater at the University of Alberta, she promptly moved to the west coast where she worked in film for several years and met her prop master husband.

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, Historical, romance on February 4, 2018

BEYOND SCANDAL AND DESIRE

Sins for All Seasons, Book 1

by

LORRAINE HEATH

Genre: Historical / Regency Romance

Publisher: Avon

Date of Publication: January 30, 2018

Number of Pages: 320

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At birth, Mick Trewlove, the illegitimate son of a duke, was handed over to a commoner. Despite his lowly upbringing, Mick has become a successful businessman, but all his wealth hasn’t satisfied his need for revenge against the man who still won’t acknowledge him. What else can Mick do but destroy the duke’s legitimate son—and woo the heir’s betrothed into his own unloving arms . . .

Orphaned and sheltered, Lady Aslyn Hastings longs for a bit of adventure. With her intended often preoccupied, Aslyn finds herself drawn to a darkly handsome entrepreneur who seems to understand her so well. Surely a lady of her station should avoid Mick Trewlove. If only he weren’t so irresistible . . .

As secrets are about to be exposed, Mick must decide if his plan for vengeance is worth risking what his heart truly desires.

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PRAISE FOR BEYOND SCANDAL AND DESIRE

“Heath builds a community of fascinating, intertwined characters that readers will be eager to get to know as they cheer for the driven hero and the spunky, smart heroine.” — Publishers Weekly

“RITA Award–winner Heath’s new Sins for All Seasons series is off to an impressive start with an unforgettable, emotionally charged love story that will dazzle and delight readers with its exquisitely crafted characters, deliciously sensual romance and impeccably rendered historical setting.” — Booklist/ *STARRED* Review

“For the first book in the Sins for All Seasons series, Heath returns to the world of dark London — a world she understands as well as Dickens. Heath illuminates the city’s underbelly with a powerful romance of healing and redemption. Her talents for drawing readers into the era with her well-drawn, three dimensional characters and realistic dialogue sets her novels apart. The unexpected twists and turns of the plot guarantees it will be placed on your keeper shelf.” — RT Book Reviews/ “Top Pick” Review

 

She should have declined. Any respectfully affianced lady would have. Not that a betrothed woman wasn’t allowed to dance with a man who wasn’t her intended, but she certainly shouldn’t be so near to a man whose hands, although properly placed—one on her back and the other providing a haven for her fingers—caused her to long for them to be improperly placed, caressing the nape of her neck, stroking her bared shoulders, cradling her face as he leaned in—

Oh, dear Lord. She wanted that deliciously wicked mouth of his doing all the things she dreamed of his hands doing. It was wrong, so wrong.

And he was incorrect. She did experience passion where Kip was concerned, and it was more than the childish desires of small things like a butterfly landing on her outstretched hand or a day without lessons. She had womanly passions. How often had she thought about Kip kissing her? A thousand at least, although not nearly as often as she’d envisioned

Mick kissing her during the short time she’d known him.

Mick. She couldn’t call him that to his face. It was far too intimate, but in the hidden recesses of her mind where she held on to dreams that would never see reality, she could be less formal. Mick.

“Is it short for Michael?” she asked.

He arched a dark brow. “Pardon?”

“Your name. Is it short for Michael? Is that the name that was registered at your birth?”

“My birth wasn’t registered. My mum just called me Mick.”

She’d never given any thought to the fact that there were those for whom records were not kept. Her ancestry, as well as Kip’s, were charted back generations, their births heralded, applauded, blessed. While his had come about in secret and in disgrace. Suddenly it seemed wrong that any child should be looked upon with shame, as though it were responsible for its existence.

“It’s a strong name.”

Lorraine Heath always dreamed of being a writer. After graduating from the University of Texas, she wrote training manuals, press releases, articles, and computer code, but something was always missing. When she read a romance novel, she not only became hooked on the genre, but quickly realized what her writing lacked: rebels, scoundrels, and rogues. She’s been writing about them ever since. Her work has been recognized with numerous industry awards, including RWA’s prestigious RITA. Her novels have appeared on the USA Today and New York Times bestseller lists.

 

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JANUARY 30-FEBRUARY 8, 2018

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1/30/18 Excerpt Hall Ways Blog
1/31/18 Review Books and Broomsticks
2/1/18 Author Interview A Novel Reality
2/2/18 Review Margie’s Must Reads
2/3/18 Excerpt Book Fidelity
2/4/18 Excerpt StoreyBook Reviews
2/5/18 Review Reading by Moonlight
2/6/18 Author Interview Chapter Break Book Blog
2/7/18 Excerpt Missus Gonzo
2/8/18 Review The Librarian Talks

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Posted in Book Blast, Giveaway, Historical, romance, Spotlight on January 29, 2018

Searching for Gertrude

Historical Romance
Self Published (January 22, 2018)
Print Length: 278 pages

Synopsis

While growing up in Germany in the 1930s, Rudolf falls in love with the girl next door, Gertrude. He doesn’t care what religion Gertrude practices, but the Nazis do. When the first antisemitic laws are enacted by the Nazi government, Gertrude’s father loses his job at the local university. Unable to find employment in Germany, he accepts a position at Istanbul University and moves the family to Turkey. Rudolf, desperate to follow Gertrude, takes a position as a consulate worker in Istanbul with the very government which caused her exile. With Rudolf finally living in the same city as Gertrude, their reunion should be inevitable, but he can’t find her. During his search for Gertrude, he stumbles upon Rosalyn, an American Jew working as a nanny in the city. Upon hearing his heartbreaking story, she immediately agrees to help him search for his lost love. Willing to do anything in their search for Gertrude, they agree to work for a British intelligence officer who promises his assistance, but his demands endanger Rudolf and Rosalyn. As the danger increases and the search for Gertrude stretches on, Rudolf and Rosalyn grow close, but Rudolf gave his heart away long ago.

About the Author

I grew up reading everything I could get my hands on from my mom’s Harlequin romances to Nancy Drew to Little Women. When I wasn’t flipping pages in a library book, I was penning horrendous poems, writing songs no one should ever sing, or drafting stories which have thankfully been destroyed. College and a stint in the U.S. Army came along, robbing me of free time to write and read, although I did manage every once in a while to sneak a book into my rucksack between rolled up socks, MRIs, t-shirts, and cold weather gear. A few years into my legal career, I was exhausted, fed up, and just plain done. I quit my job and sat down to write a manuscript, which I promptly hid in the attic after returning to the law. Another job change, this time from lawyer to B&B owner and I was again fed up and ready to scream I quit, which is incredibly difficult when you own the business. Thus, I shut the B&B during the week and in the off-season and started writing. Several books later I find myself in Istanbul writing full-time.

 

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Posted in excerpt, Historical, romance on January 14, 2018

 

Romance Rewind – Loving a Wild Stranger

By Kelli A. Wilkins

 

 Hi everyone,

Believe it or not, it’s been a year since I released my historical/pioneer romance, Loving a Wild Stranger. I’m happy to report that the book has received several great reviews. This full-length novel is set in the Michigan Territory and blends adventure with a sensual love story.

 

Synopsis

A woman running from her past… straight into the arms of an untamed man

In a moment of desperation, Kathleen Stanton flees her pampered life in Kingston, New York and ends up stranded in a small town in the Michigan Territory. Out of money and forced to rely on her instincts, she impersonates a handsome stranger’s mail-order bride.

Committed to her deception, Kathleen calls herself Michelle and starts her new life with Luther in an isolated cabin in the wilderness. Luther can’t believe his luck when his beautiful bride arrives, but something doesn’t feel right about his new wife. Michelle has terrifying nightmares involving a man named Roger and is reluctant to talk about where she came from.

Luther’s friend, Redfeather visits and tries to convince Luther to send Michelle back east. Distrusting Michelle, he warns Luther that his bride is not what she seems. But Luther is in love with Michelle, and he is harboring a secret of his own—one that might force Michelle to reject him when she learns the truth.
Michelle falls in love with Luther and adapts to her new way of life. Together, they face off against brutal townspeople and overcome harsh living conditions. When they finally give in to their desires and agree to become a proper man and wife, a dark figure from Michelle’s past resurfaces and threatens to destroy everything.

Praise

Publisher’s Weekly says:

“Wilkins (Trust with Hearts) has created a wonderfully sweet romance. The fantastic tension between the two characters as they grapple with their sudden newlywed status and the awkwardness that comes with marrying a perfect stranger keeps this story emotional and realistic as they fall in love. The story flows nicely and does not rush the romance. Wilkins keeps readers interested with strong, complex characters. Fans of pioneer romances will enjoy this one.”  Read the full review here

Long & Short Romances says:

4 Stars! This book has the potential to be made into a movie. This book took over my life. I ignored everyone and everything. The writing style made the entire book come to life as if I were there. The plot was really great. Nothing was going to interrupt my time with Luther. I envied the heroine, Michele. Loving a Wild Stranger reminded me of the 1970s T.V. show, “Grizzly Adams” – one of my favorite childhood television shows.

The writing style made the entire book come to life as if I were there. It was clever how Ms. Wilkins incorporated many plot threads and weaved them all together. I recommend this book and will be keeping it on my keeper shelf! I would recommend reading Loving a Wild Stranger while relaxing by a lake!”

Read the full review here

Excerpt

Kathleen’s knees shook as she strode down the sidewalk toward the livery. She had to get out of the store before there was trouble. She felt sorry for that man, Luther. He’d seemed nice enough when he gave her back her glove.

The coach waited near the livery, and her trunks still sat on the sidewalk. She had some time left. What should she do? She didn’t dare get back on the coach, but this town was awful and she didn’t want to stay here. Perhaps she could throw herself on the mercy of the church. There had to be one somewhere and the reverend would take her in. Or would he?

Kathleen crossed the street and entered the livery. A round-faced man slouching behind the counter straightened up.

“You must be from the stage,” he said, gazing at the front of her dress.

She folded her arms across her bosom and looked him square in the eye. “How did you know?” she asked, her voice dripping with sarcasm.

“Because I’ve been with all the women in town and you ain’t one of ’em. You Clyde’s new girl? I’d pay two dollars for a night with you.” He winked.

“How dare you! I’m looking for the church.”

The man spit a stream of tobacco juice on the floor next to her brown boots. “We ain’t got a church. If you ain’t the new whore, then what are you doin’ here?”

She spotted the newspaper the man had open on the counter in front of him. An advertisement for wedding lace gave her an idea. “I’m a mail-order bride.”

“That so?” He scowled. “Who’s the lucky man?”

Kathleen twisted her skirts and tried to stall for time. “There’s a problem with the papers you see…”

She glanced out the window. The driver stood near the coach, scratching his head. A second later, she heard the familiar clomp of boots on the sidewalk. This was her one chance. It had to work. She had always trusted her instincts, and now she could only think of one answer. Her gut told her to take the risk. “Luther’s his name and—”

“Luther?” The liveryman’s eyes widened. “Well, you’re in the right place.” He arched an eyebrow. “You sure it’s Luther?”

She nodded as the coach pulled away. All hope of escape left town in a swirl of dust. Her trunks lay abandoned on the sidewalk. There was no going back now. This man thought she was a mail-order bride. She tried to remember what she’d read about them. It sounded simple, a man sent money to a company and they sent a wife.

She tensed as the livery door opened.

“Hey, Karl. I pulled the wagon—” Luther stopped as he spotted her.

She averted her gaze and smoothed her skirts, suddenly ashamed of her appearance. What man would accept her unwashed and dusty?

The liveryman laughed. “Hell, Luther, looks like ya got more than you thought goin’ home with ya.”

“What’s that mean?”

Kathleen closed her eyes. What had she done? This wasn’t a game anymore.

“Seems your wife came special delivery on the coach.”

“My what?”

***

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Want even more? Learn about the making of the book & read an excerpt here

Then, read an interview with Luther, the hero from Loving a Wild Stranger, here:

Feel free to repost & share this blog (and links) with your social media friends!

Happy Reading,

Kelli A. Wilkins

 

About the Author

Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 100 short stories, 19 romance novels, and 5 non-fiction books.

Her romances span many genres and heat levels, and she’s also been known to scare readers with her horror stories.

Kelli’s writing book, “You Can Write—Really! A Beginner’s Guide to Writing Fiction” is a fun and informative guide filled with writing exercises and helpful tips all authors can use.

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Posted in Giveaway, Historical, Western on January 12, 2018

PALO DURO

by

MAX L. KNIGHT

  Genre: Historical Fiction / Western

Publisher: Page Publishing, Inc.

Date of Publication: September 2, 2017

Number of Pages: 226

 

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Westward expansion following the civil war ushered in an era of increased conflict between the Southern Plains Indians and white settlers. Peace treaties offered a temporary suspension of hostilities, but more often than not resulted in broken promises as the two cultures clashed over land. The construction of frontier forts and towns, the decimation of the buffalo herds, the movement of cattle through Indian lands to burgeoning western markets, – all of these forces threatened a way of life that had existed for centuries.

The Comanche, the Southern Cheyenne, the Kiowa, the Apache all fought to protect their customs and homelands. The clashes were characterized by savagery on both sides – Indian and white. However, finite numbers and options would ensure the tribes’ defeat; they faced certain death or forced relocation and their days were numbered.

Though the Indian wars are the focus of Palo Duro, the novel also captures the spirit of the “Old West” with its depiction of the great cattle drives from Texas into Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado and Montana, the cattle barons and the trailblazers, the outlaws and gunslingers, the lawmen and Texas Rangers, and the settlers and entrepreneurs who built this country. It chronicles an era characterized by heroism, brutality, and bold ventures while paying tribute to a genre that is fading from public consciousness – the western. It is the story of the Southwest United States towards the end of the nineteenth century and the rugged individualism that forged a nation.

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5 STAR PRAISE FOR PALO DURO

This book captured Central Texas in the post-Civil War era better than any other book I’ve read. It was well researched, well written, and easy to read. I enjoyed this book more than Empire of the Summer Moon, the standard setter. I recommend this to readers of any level, even if you dislike history, as this book is that good.  – Jeffrey R. Murray, Amazon review

Max Knight brought to life the saga of how Texas tamed their frontier. He presents a colorful experience with characters effectively placed throughout his story. If you have any interest in Texas history this book is a must read. – AmazonJacki, Amazon review

Palo Duro is an exceptional novel, well researched; a must read.  – Chuck B., Amazon review

Reading this book is a great way to deepen and appreciate one’s Texas roots – or if you are not a Texan to understand and enjoy what makes Texas, well, Texas! I found this novel to be especially entertaining as well as informative. Made me want to go back and read Lonesome Dove again! – Michael P., Amazon review

In the spirit of the old Western genre of Zane Grey and L’amour, Max Knight pays homage to our national heritage with this fictional but historically accurate labor of love that warms the heart with his vivid imagery and authentic tone of America’s illustrious and sometimes brutal past. – Chester Sosinski, Amazon review

Max Knight’s Favorites, Part I

Each of us has our preferences in books, authors, hobbies, places, etc. These choices don’t necessarily define who we are as an individual, but they do provide interesting insights into what makes us tick! Here are a few of my favorites:

Author, Book, & TV Adaptation

It is rare when so many different categories derive from one source. However, by far my favorite author on all things Texas is Larry McMurtry. His Pulitzer Prize winning novel Lonesome Dove is epic in scope with two of the greatest fictional characters ever created; Augustus McRae and Woodrow Call. Their portrayal in the 1989 mini-series by actors Robert Duval and Tommy Lee Jones is uncanny; seldom has the written word been adapted to the medium of film and remained so true to the source material.

Literary Genre & Author

Fact is certainly stranger than fiction, but history can be a dry subject. Fictionalizing the narrative allows a writer to add description and context to events while bringing people to life through dialogue and character development. For me, the author who has mastered the art form is Jeff Sharra. Picking up where his dad, Michael Sharra, left off, he has given us narratives on the Civil War, the Mexican-American War, WWI, Korea, and WWII in a series of novels that capture history and the reader’s imagination.

Movie

Ben-Hur. The 1959 film starring Charlton Heston, based on the book by Lew Wallace, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, is arguably one of the greatest biblical stories to ever grace the big screen. It recreates the world dominated by the brutality of the Roman Empire in the story of a Jew whose world is turned upside down by a childhood friend’s betrayal. In his quest for revenge, Judah Ben-Hur will discover the redemptive power of faith.

Director

John Ford. Renowned for his westerns starring John Wayne, “The Duke,” he filmed many of his movies in Monument Valley including the trilogy Fort Apache, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, and Rio Grande, a rousing tribute to the U.S. cavalry. Ford would also explore darker themes of racial hatred and injustice in his masterpiece, The Searchers, which was based on the novel by Alan LeMay about the Comanche abduction and subsequent search for Cynthia Ann Parker.

Musical Scene

Texas Dance Halls and Honky Tonks. There is a difference between Texas music and Country music. You’ll find it at places like Gruene Hall, Floore’s Country Store, Kendalia, and Luckenbach. Listen to the likes of Robert Earl Keen, Bruce and Charlie Robison, Pat Greene, and Ray Wylie Hubbard while two-steppin’ the night away!

 

Max L. Knight was born in Panama in 1949, and was raised both in the Canal Zone and in San Antonio, Texas where he now resides with his wife, Janet “Gray.” A proud member of the Corps of Cadets and graduate of Texas A&M University (Class of ’73), he received a bachelor’s degree in English and a Regular Army commission and served the next twenty-four years as an Air Defense and Foreign Area Officer before retiring in 1997 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. After leaving the Army, Max spent the next five years working for RCI Technologies of San Antonio, becoming its Director of Internal Operations. Separating from the company in 2002, he volunteered to be the first docent at the Alamo working within its Education Department before once again serving his country as a Counterintelligence Specialist in Europe, Central America, Asia and the Middle East through 2013. Max speaks several languages including Greek and Spanish. He also holds a Master of Science degree in government from Campbell University. He has written and published two books to date: Silver Taps, a personal memoir of his relationship with his father and a tribute to his alma mater, and Palo Duro, a novel focusing on the Indian wars in the southwestern United States at the end of the nineteenth century.

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1/10/18 Promo Texas Book Lover
1/10/18 Character Interview The Librarian Talks
1/11/18 Review Syd Savvy
1/12/18 Favorites, Part 1 StoreyBook Reviews
1/12/18 Guest Post Books in the Garden
1/13/18 Review Missus Gonzo
1/14/18 Review Texan Girl Reads
1/15/18 Excerpt The Page Unbound
1/15/18 Favorites, Part 2 A Novel Reality
1/16/18 Review Forgotten Winds
1/17/18 Author Interview The Clueless Gent
1/17/18 Playlist Tangled in Text
1/18/18 Review Hall Ways Blog
1/19/18 Scrapbook Page Books and Broomsticks
1/19/18 Review Reading by Moonlight


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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, Historical, romance on January 2, 2018

Title: Earl Interrupted

Author: Amanda Forester

Series: The Daring Marriages, #2

Pub Date: January 2, 2017

Synopsis

After restoring his fortune as a notorious privateer, Captain Robert Ashton, Earl of Darington, goes to London in search of a bride. Instead, he finds unexpected dangers and unknown assailants. He is shot and left for dead. Life on the high seas was far calmer.

Enter Miss Emma St. James. She may appear sweet and demure, but she quickly proves herself to be equal to any challenge, including saving Darington’s life. Just when Darington is sure he has found his perfect bride, she reveals she’s betrothed to another.

Now things REALLY start to get complicated…

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Excerpt

“First sailed at twelve, joined right after my father’s death. First tour saw action at the Nile with Nelson,” said Darington in his understated manner.

“You were with Nelson at such a young age? Why, you are quite the hero,” exclaimed Emma.

“I ran powder. Tried not to get shot.”

“An admirable goal. I fully support it!”

Dare turned back to her with warm eyes. “Considering my recent experience, I quite agree.” His dark features gleamed a roguish enchantment in the moonlight.

A shiver ran down her spine.

Dare shrugged out of his greatcoat and, ignoring her murmurs of protest, put it around her shoulders. The heavy wool coat was warm from his own heat and stoked a fire within her. His scent lingered and she breathed deeply, feeling a little giddy at being draped in his coat as if wrapped in his arms.

“You should keep your coat. It is cold and you are still recovering,” Emma protested.

Dare gave her another of his shrugs and stepped close to her, reaching into the pocket of his coat that was wrapped around her. “This is for you.” He held out his hand, revealing a small, white shell.

Surprised, Emma took the small shell from his hand. It had a light gray, curved outside shell and a glossy, smooth, pink surface within. She looked up at him, wondering its significance. He continued to stare at her with an expectant air. She wished she understood the meaning of the gesture.

“Thank you.”

“It is for you,” he explained. “A gift. There are no flowers in January and your guardian is not present so…”

“Oh! A gift for me?” Emma realized this was his attempt at wooing her and her heart cracked open. “But how did you…? Please do not tell me you walked all the way to the beach to find me a shell.” She looked down from the edge of the cliff to the beach below.

“I confess Jonathan assisted me.”

“But you should not attempt such a thing. You are still recovering.”

“You said the purpose of the gift was not the object but the effort involved in the giving.”

“Oh, Dare!”

“Did I do it right?” The earnestness in his eyes made her heart ache.

“Yes, yes, you did it very well. Thank you. I will cherish it always.”

“Good.” Dare opened his mouth to say something but turned away instead, staring out over the ocean. She could not begin to guess his thoughts. Without his greatcoat, he appeared thin and lonely in the pale light, leaning on his walking stick.

Clearly, he had not given up his attempt to convince her to marry him. She would never take advantage of the situation to accept an offer made only out of obligation, but what if his heart had been truly touched? He certainly had gone to great effort. Would he act the same way out of a sense of honor? Given what Emma knew of the enigmatic man before her, he probably would.

Though she was already standing next to him, she stepped closer. “I must insist you take back your coat. I do not wish you to catch cold in your condition. And truly, you should rest.”

“No, no, my condition is very well, thanks to you.”

“But that does not mean you should freeze. Here, take back your coat. I am very warm, I assure you.” She stepped forward and attempted to place the coat back around his shoulders.

“No, I insist you keep it,” he protested, trying to keep the coat around her. Somehow, they ended up with one shoulder of the coat on him and one on her, standing so close their bodies brushed against one another.

Emma froze at the contact, looking up at the dark eyes of the Earl of Darington. His eyes burned with a fierce intensity, his lips parted. His dark look was similar to when he had defended her from the highwaymen. This was the true Darington. He kept a calm, distant facade, but raging beneath the surface was something wild and dangerous. Her heart pounded, but instead of pulling away, she pressed closer.

He slowly wrapped his arms around her, inside of the greatcoat, pulling her closer to him. Her hands flew to his chest, but she did not push him away. Without a word, he slowly lowered his head. He stopped just inches away from her lips. She waited, the air between them crackling with anticipation. Was he going to kiss her? Was he going to come so close and not kiss her? Waiting was agony.

Swiftly, he put an end to the debate and claimed her mouth with his. His lips pressed against hers and he pulled her closer, parting her lips with his tongue and deepening the kiss. Emma reached up and wrapped her hands around his neck, holding on tightly as her heart soared. She had never experienced anything like the sensation of kissing Darington. It was like flying, though her feet never left the ground.

When they finally parted, they both took deep breaths. His great coat slid to the ground, forgotten. She was certainly more than warm now. When his hand slid away from her waist, she noticed that it trembled.

“Forgive me,” he murmured, turning to face the crashing waves once more, holding his hands rigidly behind his back.

Emma took several more breaths before attempting speech. “That was…” She had not the words to describe it.

“An imposition on your person,” finished Dare without turning to her.

“No, no, that was not what I was going to say.”

“It was not?” He turned to her, a note of hope in his voice.

“No,” she replied firmly. “That was…quite remarkable.”

About the Author

AMANDA FORESTER holds a PhD and worked for many years in academia before discovering that writing novels was decidedly more fun. Whether in the rugged Highlands of medieval Scotland or the decadent ballrooms of Regency England, her novels offer fast-paced adventures filled with wit, intrigue, and romance.  Amanda lives near Seattle, WA.

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Posted in 4 paws, Christian, Giveaway, Historical, Review, romance on December 22, 2017

 

HOLDING THE FORT

The Fort Reno Series, Book 1

by

REGINA JENNINGS

  Genre: Historical Western Christian Romance

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

Date of Publication: December 5, 2017

Number of Pages: 353

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With Miss Bell as the Teacher, Everyone’s Bound to Learn an Interesting Lesson

Dance hall singer Louisa Bell has always lived one step from destitution. When she loses her job at the Cat-Eye Saloon, she has nowhere else to go but to her brother, a cavalry soldier stationed in Indian Territory. But he’s run afoul of his commanding officer. Unsure what she can do to help him and desperate for a job, she doesn’t protest when she’s mistaken for a governess at the fort. How hard can teaching really be?

Major Daniel Adams has his hands full at Fort Reno, especially raising two adolescent daughters alone. If this new governess doesn’t work out, his mother-in-law insists she’ll raise the girls herself–far away from the fort. Miss Bell bears little resemblance to Daniel’s notion of a governess–they’re not supposed to be so blamed pretty–but he finds himself turning a blind eye to her unconventional methods. Louisa has never faced so important a performance. Can she keep her act together long enough to help her brother and to secure the respectable future she’s sought for so long?

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PRAISE FOR HOLDING THE FORT & THE FORT RENO SERIES:

“The first book in Jennings’ new Fort Reno series is a delightful read that helps solidify what a wonderful and imaginative writer Jennings is. She manages to create unique stories with interesting and well-developed characters while combining humor, mystery and a sprinkle of faith.” –RT Book Reviews

“In this character-driven series launch, Jennings offers a powerful lesson on the freedom of truth and forgiveness wrappd in a delightful story of love against the odds.” —Publishers Weekly

“This series launch is a charming historical romance set in 1880s Fort Reno, OK. . . . Jennings kicks off a new series with a light and enjoyable tale that will delight her fans as well as lovers of historical romance.” —Library Journal

 

When you are in the mood for a trip to the old west, life in a fort, and a sweet story about faith, love and forgiveness then this should be one of the books you pick up to indulge that feeling.

While this book is labeled as western Christian romance, it is not heavy on the religious aspect.  There is the right balance of faith/religion, love, action and the wisdom of two young ladies.

This story touched my heart in many ways.  Louisa was way out of her element pretending to be a governess to the Major’s two daughters.  But she would stay up reading ahead so that she could instruct these young ladies in their studies.  Don’t get me wrong, she was not unintelligent, she had just not gone very far in school which is not surprising for the time. But when it came to instruction on areas such as singing – this is where she excelled.  The way Louisa handled herself in various difficult situations was admirable…however, she probably should have come clean much sooner about who she was and why she was at the fort.  Daniel (the Major) was a widower trying to do his best in raising two rambunctious girls, away from civilization…and with an overbearing mother-in-law that wanted the girls to live with her.  He is strong in his faith which is what ultimately helps Louisa admit her past and accept her destiny.  I cringed at the thought of how Daniel would react when the truth came out about Louisa.  However, his reaction was that of a Godly man that believed in truth and forgiveness.  I laughed along with Daisy and Caroline as they fought against instruction from Louisa, but came to love her in the end.  Daisy’s innocence is quite captivating as she has no filters on what comes out of her mouth.  As they say, “out of the mouths of babes!”  But I felt this just added to the complexity of the characters and the situations they faced.

This story was also educational as it depicted life in a fort during the late 1800’s.  There were Indian raids from those tribes not wanting to change their ways.  The author researched the background on this story quite well and I might have even learned a few things.

Overall a very enjoyable read and we give it 4 paws up.

 

Regina Jennings is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a minor in history. She’s the winner of the National Readers’ Choice Award, a two-time Golden Quill finalist and a finalist for the Oklahoma Book of the Year Award. Regina has worked at the Mustang News and at First Baptist Church of Mustang, along with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. She lives outside of Oklahoma City with her husband and four children.

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12/18/17 Excerpt Hall Ways Blog
12/19/17 Review Texan Girl Reads
12/20/17 Notable Quotable Books and Broomsticks
12/21/17 Author Video Forgotten Winds
12/22/17 Review StoreyBook Reviews
12/26/17 Excerpt Tangled in Text
12/27/17 Notable Quotable A Novel Reality
12/28/17 Review Missus Gonzo
12/29/17 Top Ten List The Page Unbound
12/30/17 Review Books in the Garden

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Posted in 5 paws, christmas, Giveaway, Historical, Holiday, Review, romance on December 10, 2017

CHRISTMAS IN A COWBOY’S ARMS

with stories by

ROSANNE BITTNER, LINDA BRODAY, MARGARET BROWNLEY,

LEIGH GREENWOOD, ANNA SCHMIDT, AMY SANDAS

  Genre: Romance Anthology / Western / Historical

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

Date of Publication: October 3, 2017

Number of Pages: 512

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The Beating Heart of Christmas

In the wild and untamed West, it takes a cowboy’s embrace to see you through a long winter’s night. Stay toasty this holiday season with heart-warming tales from these bestselling authors.

Whether it’s a lonely spinster finding passion at last…an infamous outlaw-turned-lawman reaffirming the love that keeps him whole…a lost and broken drifter discovering family in unlikely places…a Texas Ranger risking it all for one remarkable woman…two lovers bringing together a family ripped apart by prejudice…or reunited lovers given a second chance to correct past mistakes…a Christmas spent in a cowboy’s arms is full of hope, laughter, and―most of all―love.

*Chick-a-Dee Christmas by Rosanne Bittner * The Christmas Stranger by Linda Broday * A Texas Ranger for Christmas by Margaret Brownley * Father Christmas by Leigh Greenwood * A Christmas Baby by Anna Schmidt * A Christmas Reunion by Amy Sandas*

Praise

“An emotional powerhouse! This classic historical western is destined for the “keeper” shelf.” RT Book Reviews, Top Pick for Rosanne Bittner

“Fun and sensual…great for fans of history, romance, and some good old Texas grit.” Kirkus for Linda Broday

“A great story by a wonderful author.” ― #1 New York Times bestselling author DEBBIE MACOMBER for Margaret Brownley

“Greenwood is a master at westerns.” RT Book Reviews for Leigh Greenwood

“The perfect read.” RT Book Reviews for Anna Schmidt

“A genuine page-turner…electric and absorbing.” Kirkus for Amy Sandas

 

If you love Cowboys, Christmas and the Wild West – then you need to read this book!

The six authors bring us back to the late 1800’s when the west was wild and life was nothing like what we know today.  But more than just a look into the past – these stories are of love, whether it be lost love, new found love or a love that has endured for decades.  In each story the main characters have some sort of issue to resolve, and each author weaves that tale into a succinct story that leaves us with a happy ending.

I don’t know if I can choose a favorite because they are all good!  I do think I liked the stories that included a dog a bit more, but that is the dog lover in me.  Animals always have their own personality that adds to the story.

Each story warmed my heart despite the difficulties that the characters faced in the beginning.  There are situations that probably everyone could relate to whether it was family issues, secrets or wanting more from life.

We give this book and all six novellas 5 paws up.  Perfect to read during this holiday season and since each story is about 100 pages, it won’t take long to enjoy each of the novellas.

Rosanne Bittner

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Linda Broday

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Margaret Brownley

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Anna Schmidt

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Amy Sandas

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Leigh Greenwood

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Four Winners will each get a prize pack which includes Christmas in a Cowboy’s Arms + another book(s) by one of the authors.  Three of the packs will also include a $10 Amazon Gift Card.

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12/1/17 Christmas Memories Hall Ways Blog
12/2/17 Review Books in the Garden
12/3/17 Spotlight on Amy Syd Savvy
12/4/17 Review Bibliotica
12/5/17 Spotlight on Anna Missus Gonzo
12/6/17 Spotlight on Linda Margie’s Must Reads
12/7/17 Review Reading by Moonlight
12/8/17 Spotlight on Margaret The Librarian Talks
12/9/17 Spotlight on Rosanne Tangled in Text
12/10/17 Review StoreyBook Reviews

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Posted in 4 paws, fiction, Giveaway, Historical, Review on December 8, 2017

 

UP NEAR DALLAS

Winds of Change — Book III

by

GINA HOOTEN POPP

  Genre:  Texas Historical Fiction / Romance

Date of Publication: November 12, 2017

Number of Pages: 307

Scroll down for the giveaway!

The year is 1934. Economic turbulence rocks the country. And record drought dries up crops, along with the spirits of every farmer south of the Mason-Dixon. Yet for sixteen-year-old Mick McLaren, life is good as he takes to the open road to chase his dream of being a musician. Riding boxcars, hitchhiking, walking and driving his way across Depression Era Texas, he finds not only himself, but the love of a girl from Dallas named Margaret. Along the way, they befriend Cowboy Larson, a Delta Blues guitarist. Together the three teens, from three very different worlds, come-of-age as their life-changing journey carries them through killer dust storms, extreme poverty, and the unprecedented gangster activity of the Dirty Thirties.

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This book takes you on a journey during the height of the great depression and gives us a peek into how people came together as a community to help those hurting the worst. But it also hits on some of the history of the time – like Bonnie & Clyde and how their actions bring together a young couple that may not have met otherwise – Mick and Margaret.

While there is a multitude of positive moments, it would not be a well rounded book without hitting on some touchy topics like racism and perceived guilt. However, the characters take everything in stride and actually stand up for their actions which causes others to rethink their initial reactions to what they heard. It doesn’t mean that every situation has a happy ending, but it might make one think about how they are treating others based on gossip or sensationalized news stories.

And this book wouldn’t be complete without some romance. There is Mick and Margaret, Cowboy and Saint, and even Mick’s parents – Lucky and Antonia. Each couple has their own issues to overcome and round out the story.

Each chapter of this book is told from a different character’s voice. I felt like this really helped engage me as a reader because it allowed me to look into their thoughts, dreams and actions which added layers of complexity to the story. There are even some quirky characters that are very lovable such as Nana Michelle and an incident with a dust storm and a cow. You’ll have to read the book to find out more about that!

Overall a very enjoyable book and while it is the 3rd book in this series, you do not have to read the first two to understand this book. However the first two books are about Mick’s Grandfather and Father, so it might make some actions of Lucky (Mick’s father) more understandable.

We give this 4 paws up.

A native Texan, Gina Hooten Popp was born in Greenville and now lives in Dallas with her husband and son. Along with writing novels, Gina has enjoyed a long career as a professional writer in advertising. Her debut novel THE STORM AFTER was a finalist in the 2014 RONE Awards, and her just-released book CHICO BOY: A NOVEL was a 2016 Medalist Winner in the New Apple Annual Book Awards. Recently, her novel LUCKY’S WAY, about a young fighter pilot from Houston, was endorsed by the United States World War One Centennial Commission.

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12/4/17 Guest Post Books and Broomsticks
12/5/17 Review Hall Ways Blog
12/6/17 Excerpt Texas Book Lover
12/7/17 Playlist The Clueless Gent
12/8/17 Review StoreyBook Reviews
12/9/17 Notable Quotable A Page Before Bedtime
12/10/17 Excerpt Texan Girl Reads
12/11/17 Review Missus Gonzo
12/12/17 Author Interview The Librarian Talks
12/13/17 Review Reading by Moonlight

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