Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Best Western Historical Romances!

I first discovered Western romances by reading those written by my favorite authors who also wrote in other subgenres (when I was gobbling up their backlists). Since then, I have become a true fan of the subgenre and find myself every now and then reaching for a good romance from the Old West. Love those Indian and gun-slinging heroes. So, it seemed a “best” list was in order to share some of these wonderful stories with you.

Here are the best of those I’ve read…all rated 4 or 5 stars by me. Some have won Golden Heart, RITA and other awards. I think you’ll like these!

·               A Fire in the Blood by Shirl Henke
·               A Heart So Wild by Johanna Lindsey
·               Beautiful Bad Man by Ellen O’Connell
·               Beauty and the Bounty Hunter by Lori Austin
·               Behind His Blue Eyes by Kaki Warner
·               Branded Hearts by Heather Graham (Pozzessere)
·               Brave the Wild Wind, Savage Thunder & Angel, Wyoming trilogy by Johanna
·               Brighter Than Gold by Cynthia Wright
·               Broken Vows by Shirl Henke
·               Captive Melody by Nadine Crenshaw
·               Capture the Sun, The Endless Sky & Sundancer, trilogy by Shirl Henke
·               Colorado Promise by Charlene Whitman
·               Comanche Moon, Comanche Heart & Indigo Blue (from the Comanche series)
by Catherine Anderson
·               Dancing on Coals by Ellen O’Connell
·               Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold by Ellen O’Connell
·               Fair is the Rose by Meagan McKinney
·               Fire Hawk’s Bride by Judith E. French
·               Fireblossom & Wildblossom, the Matthews duology by Cynthia Wright
·               Forever Mine by Charlene Raddon
·               From Fields of Gold by Alexandra Ripley
·               Golden Fancy by Jennifer Blake
·               Golden Lady by Shirl Henke
·               Haven’s Flame by Marie Piper
·               Heart of the West by Penelope Williamson
·               Heartbreak Creek, Colorado Dawn & Bride of the High Country by Kaki Warner
·               Her Bodyguard by E. E. Burke
·               Her Wicked Captor by Sandra Jones
·               Hummingbird by LaVyrle Spencer
·               Innocent Fire, Firestorm, Violet Fire & The Fires of Paradise (from The Bragg
Saga) by Brenda Joyce
·               Into the Light by Ellen O’Connell
·               Lavender Blue by Parris Afton Bonds
·               Lawless by Nora Roberts
·               Love a Dark Rider by Shirlee Busbee
·               Love Cherish Me by Rebecca Brandewyne
·               Love Unwilling By Shirl Henke
·               McCrory’s Lady by Shirl Henke
·               Moon Dancer by Judith E. French
·               Mountain Mistress by Nadine Crenshaw
·               Night Wind’s Woman, White Apache’s Woman & Deep as the Rivers, trilogy by
Shirl Henke
·               No Other Man, No Other Woman and No Other Love, trilogy by Shannon Drake
·               Pieces of Sky, Open Country & Chasing the Sun, the Blood Rose trilogy by Kaki
·               Reckless Angel by Elizabeth Awbrey (aka Elizabeth Stuart)
·               Savage Ecstasy and Defiant Ecstasy by Janelle Taylor
·               Silken Savage by Catherine Hart
·               Silver Nights with You by Sawyer Belle
·               Sing My Name by Ellen O’Connell
·               Star of the West by Cordia Byers
·               Sweet Savage Love by Rosemary Rogers
·               Tears of Gold by Laurie McBain
·               Tender Touch by Charlene Raddon
·               The Ballad of Emma O’Toole by Elizabeth Lane
·               The Bequest by Candice Proctor
·               The Darkest Heart by Brenda Joyce
·               The Outlaw Hearts by Rebecca Brandewyne
·               The Outsider by Penelope Williamson
·               The River Nymph by Shirl Henke
·               The Tiger’s Woman by Celeste De Blasis
·               The Vintner’s Daughter by Kristen Harnisch
·               To Have and to Hold by Charlene Raddon
·               Under the Desert Moon by Marsha Canham
·               When the Splendor Falls by Laurie McBain
·               Where the Horses Run by Kaki Warner
·               Where the Wild Wind Blows by Nancy Morse
·               While Passion Sleeps by Shirlee Busbee

Monday, June 27, 2016

Review: Alexandra Ripley’s FROM FIELDS OF GOLD – Unusual Love Story, Rich in Detail of Both the American South and Aristocratic London in late 19th Century

Having read Alexandra Ripley’s Scarlett, I was eager to read another by this author.

It begins in the South in 1875. Francesca (“Chess”) Standish, was raised to be a lady but the Civil War left her at 30 with only a rundown plantation and a patent on her grandfather’s machine to make cigarettes. Once her life was filled with laughter, now she is gray and glum. She wants to be married and has all but given up hope until Nate Richardson comes along.

Nate is smart, handsome and ambitious, and desperately wants to gain the patent for the machine that makes cigarettes. When Chess, who is 8 years his senior, tells him he can have the patent if he will marry her, he agrees. 

Ever since he was a teenager, Nate has been in love with the girl who became his brother’s wife. He shows Chess no passion, believing she is not interested and finds his pleasure elsewhere. Chess is so in love with him, she is willing to take the crumbs he offers her. Chess is a heroine to love, brave, smart and willing to wait for what she wants. She knows Nate doesn’t love her but she vows to become the business partner he will respect. And she does, sharing with him his dreams and his passion for the tobacco industry and helping his dreams become reality. 

Though he admires her, Nate is not faithful. But a trip to London will show her the affection she has long missed and awakens in her the girl she once was.

The story reflects the author’s deep research into the tobacco industry in the South and the era of the late Victorian period in London. She captures the life of the idle rich as well as the Americans who led the development of new industries and discoveries. Rich in detail, even as to fashion, with splendid characters, including some actual historical figures, Ripley have given us a great tale. You must wait till the very end for that happy ever after, but I assure you, it’s coming.

I didn’t want to put it down! It's a Keeper.

Buy on Amazon

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Review: Kristen Harnisch’s THE VINTNER’S DAUGHTER – Historical Romance set in France and California’s wine country

It begins slowly but soon becomes a good story and an interesting mix of genres. It’s marketed as historical fiction but the first half reads like women’s fiction—it’s Sara’s story. The hero and heroine aren’t together in the same place until the last half of the book and that last half is pure historical romance. Running throughout is Sara’s spiritual journey and the inspirational theme of forgiveness.

It begins in the Loire Valley in 1895 when Sara Thibault's father is killed in a mudslide and her mother sells their vineyard to the Lemieuxs, a rival family, crushing Sara’s hopes to one day make the vineyard her own. Worse, her sister, Lydia, marries Bastien Lemieux, the evil eldest son of the buyer’s family. One night, fighting off her brother-in-law’s brutal attempt to rape her, Sara kills Bastien. Afraid of poor justice, Sara escapes to New York with her pregnant sister.

Meanwhile, Bastien’s brother, Philippe, who long ago left France, lives in California where he intends to grow his Eagle Run winery into the largest in the Napa Valley. When he receives word of his brother's death in France, he resolves to bring the killer to justice.

Still on the run, Sara ends up in Napa working in Philippe’s vineyard. When she realizes she is in the vineyard of the brother of the man she has killed, she knows she must seek his forgiveness but she cannot bring herself to tell him who she is. To add to her problems, she is falling in love with him and he with her.

Unlike his brother, Philippe is kind and noble of heart. He is instantly taken with Sara and not only her expertise about growing grapes and making wine. She is clever and witty and handsome. Some wonderful secondary characters add to the tapestry. 

The story is well written, well researched and rich in details of the wine-making business. I learned much. A recommended read.

Buy on Amazon

Friday, June 24, 2016

New Review: Penelope Williamson’s HEART OF THE WEST - Magnificent Montana Love Story!

This historical romance will tear at your heart, I promise. It covers twelve years (1879-1891) in the lives of Americans trying to carve out a life in Montana frontier. She weaves a masterful tale with incredibly accurate historic detail and dialog that brings to life the people who made the West: Easterners, cowboys, Indians, Chinese, Irish, miners, railroad workers, merchants, ranchers and those who preyed upon them.

There are lots of relationship combinations in this romance: Two men loving the same woman; two women loving the same man; one man loving a woman who should never have married the man she did; a good hearted whore who becomes a lady's true friend and the lover of the man her friend loves, different races coming together and children birthed and loved only to die of accident, disease and more. Through the lives of these people, Williamson so beautifully portrays, you will experience the life of the Americans who won the west and who made this country great. And you will experience love that endures through the years though denied.

Williamson takes her time developing the characters. You will feel as if you know them; you will experience their dreams, their tragedies, their disappointments, their happiness and their loves. And, as with the other great romances by this author, you will feel the emotion, whether deep in the pits of despair or soaring with love's sweet reward.

And, it is truly a great love story.

The main story is that of Clementine Kennicutt, the highborn daughter of a rigid, demanding and, at times, abusive minister in Boston. She dreams of freedom and of cowboys. When one stumbles into her life, though she doesn’t really know him, she is willing to elope with him to his ranch in Montana.

Gus McQueen was raised in the south and in Boston but then as a young man he went looking for his younger brother, Zach Rafferty, who he had lost when they were separated as children. He finds him and they stake a ranch in Montana, which it seems is always just barely making it. When Gus, a man of dreams, meets Clementine in Boston on a trip home to see his dying mother, he knows he can't live without her. So Gus, 25, and Clementine, 18, wed knowing next to nothing about each other.

Gus brings Clementine her home to Montana and to a hard life she is not prepared for. Zach, the darker younger brother with a mysterious past (even at 23), realizes soon after Clementine arrives that he covets his brother's wife. And, though faithful to her husband, Zach becomes the passion of Clementine’s life--a passion denied.

You can see the potential for great angst here, can't you? Here a sample of the words Zach speaks to her—one of my all time favorite quotes:

"A heartfire, Clementine my darlin', is when you want someone, when you need her so damn bad, not only in your bed but in your life, that you're willin' to burn—"

Yeah, well, a whole lot of burnin' goes on in this story. It’s a keeper!

Buy on Amazon

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Charlene Raddon, author of Western Historical Romance

My guest today is Charlene Raddon, whose stories are written to keep the Old West alive. Her first serious attempt at writing fiction came in 1980 when a vivid dream drove her to drag out a typewriter and begin writing. Her career began on a high note as a Golden Heart finalist. She’s been writing ever since. 

Because of a love for romance novels and the Wild West, her primary genre is historical romance. At present, she has five books originally published by Kensington Books and now with Tirgearr Publishing. 

In May, 2016 Charlene became an Indie, self-publishing her ebooks with new covers. Charlene also designs book covers and other graphic materials for authors.

Today, Charlene is sharing with us how she did her research for To Have and To Hold. She'll be giving away two copies of the eBook so be sure and leave a comment with your email.

From Charlene:
The research an author does and how she uses it can make or break a book. I love finding and using details from my research. Details that bring a story to life.With To Have and To Hold, I had help, a friend who had been born in a dugout at the entrance of the canyon and knew the area well. Not Deception Canyon, the location of my story, but the real one I used as the setting—Nine-Mile Canyon in eastern Utah.
Nine Mile Canyon

Nine-Mile is a fabulous, high-cliffed, twisted, rugged slit of a canyon that runs forty miles to dead-end at the juncture of Nine-Mile Creek and the Green River. Fremont Indian ruins and petroglyphs abound there. It is a country of sagebrush and sandstone, carved and shaped by water, and inhabited by the native people who lived and died there as well as the pioneers who later settled the land.

My husband and I traveled the length of the canyon, exploring the side-shoots, the rock formations, the petroglyphs, and ruins. As we drove and hiked and explored, To Have and To Hold formed in my head. What better location for a tough, strong-minded woman to be abandoned with her two small children?

Tempest Whitney made a poor choice in husbands. Skeet Whitney was handsome but also weak. A gambler and a dreamer, not a doer. After a flashflood had washed away their cabin, he took what money they had, went for supplies, and never came back.

Left alone, Tempest did the only thing she could; rebuild. She used what materials were available; bits and pieces of the ruined cabin, a shovel, and the dirt of an old embankment above the water—a dugout, gouged out of the earth like a badger hole. All while caring for two youngsters. Not easy. Tempest was tough. She had to be.

The hero, Buck Maddux, found Skeet dying of a bullet wound received while robbing an Army payroll wagon. Out of kindness, Buck stayed until Skeet took his last breath, moments before the posse arrived and arrested Buck as an accomplice.

Released from prison two years later, Buck keeps a promise to make sure Skeet’s widow and family are all right. He receives a poor welcome. Tempest has had enough problems with her neighbor, Jonas Creedy. She doesn’t need more from a stranger.

Another shot of Nine Mile Canyon

Buck prepares to leave the canyon but hears Jonas Creedy brag that Tempest is about to become his bride. None of Buck’s business. But he hates the idea of a woman like her being ground under the thumb of a bully like Creedy. Nor can he forget the sweet faces of Tempest’s little daughter and impish son. His decision to interfere brings him in a lot of trouble, but also love, and joy.

My friend told me of a small flagstone shack supposedly built by miners under attack by Indians. They sheltered in the hut and hid their gold nearby. It has never been found. How perfect, I thought. Buck and Tempest need that money to save her homestead. Naturally, it wouldn’t be easy. Not with Jonas Creedy gunning for them. 

The only town that exists in Nine-Mile Canyon is inside my head, and in my book.  Building a story from your imagination is like constructing a house out of toothpicks. Some fall and you have to start over, maybe several times. Some picks just don’t fit. But in the end, when it all comes together, you want to celebrate as if you’d built the Empire State Building.

Writing is a labor of love, and I thoroughly enjoyed creating Deception Canyon and peopling it with indomitable characters like Tempest Whitney and Buck Maddux. I hope my readers enjoy it as much as I did.

A woman without a prayer . . .

A widow with two children, Tempest Whitney has had to mortgage everything to repay the money her husband had stolen. But even as she struggles to hold onto her Utah homestead, a scheming rancher buys up her debts, demanding she either get off his land or marry him. Then a dark-haired stranger shows up, claiming to be her dead husband . . .

A man without a past . . .

Buck Maddux spent two years in jail for a crime he didn't commit. Now a deathbed promise has brought him to Tempest's homestead. A man without roots, he doesn't plan to stay—or to feel so fiercely protective of this feisty beauty he saves from a hated marriage of convenience. Suddenly, Buck years for a home, a family, a lasting love. But what can he offer Tempest? The surprising answer lies in the forbidding canyons of an ancient Anasazi tribe, where fortune and danger await—along with a passion more precious than gold…

Buy on Amazon. And the story of Buck’s missing half-brother, Whip Kincaid can be found in Charlene's book, The Scent of Roses.

Keep up with Charlene on her website, Facebook and at Silver Sage Bookcovers.