light romance

The Sheriffs of Savage Wells

29457615The Sheriffs of Savage Wells by Sarah M. Eden
Shadow Mountain: September 27, 2016
Genre: Historical Western Romance
Source: Free from publisher

I’d go there again!
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I haven’t read a historical Western romance since I was in high school, and I thoroughly enjoyed this re-introduction to the genre. The relationship between the hero and heroine is fantastic. Slow and sweet, with witty banter to fill in the corners. Both characters are fully developed and realistic, with layers of problems they’re dealing with (who ever has only one problem going on in their lives at once?). The town is full of delightful characters, and the plot, whether it’s focused on the romance or the lawbreaking, never falters.

Cade has just arrived in Savage Wells to apply to be sheriff in this quiet, safe town – a far cry from the dangerous and gritty towns he worked in his ten-year career as a lawman. When all the applicants arrive at the jailhouse, he and two other men discover that the fourth applicant is Paisley Bell – a woman! Cade has trouble adjusting to the idea of a female sheriff, and in the beginning he and Paisley bicker and fight verbal battles almost constantly. But as they get to know one another, a deep and mutual respect builds. Their mutual respect is the foundation of their romance, and really, one of the best things about this book.

The romance builds slowly, and there’s no sex. It is 1875, after all. This knocks down one of my major objections to historical romances. I’m no longer interested in reading historical books that completely disregard the setting. In this book, it comes to life. Lots of the town’s residents are given their own quirks, problems, and perspectives. The town’s problems are people problems, like the inconvenience of a jail filled with ribbons because that’s where they’re sold. And the two farmers who have an inordinate amount of affection for a single hen. There are real problems, too. Cade and other men in the town are dealing with the repercussions of fighting in the American Civil War. And Paisley is taking care of her father, who is unable to take care of himself.

Paisley is wonderful – struggling to hold on to her way of life, dealing with her father’s problems, and fighting to be able to perform a job she does well against nearly universal prejudice. She’s defiant, witty, strong, and vulnerable.

I challenge you to fall in love with these characters and this town like I did, and to cheer for Paisley and Cade as they work to protect their quirky town from robbers and crooks.

Similar Reads

Readers, I defer to you. I have nothing in my Have Read pile that fits. Have you read any sweet historical/Western romances recently that you would recommend to readers of The Sheriffs of Savage Wells?

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Resistance is Futile Lacks Depth, Has Unique Heroine

resistance

Resistance is Futile by Jenny T. Colgan

Orbit: May 28th, 2015 (Romantic Science Fiction)*

vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3 The view was nice, but the food was bad (meh)

This book’s premise intrigued me. I don’t often come across books whose protagonists are female redheaded genius mathematicians.

The set-up involves a mysterious, too-good-to-be-true fellowship position. When Connie finally arrives at her new office, however, she discovers that she is not the only bright mathematician to get the job. Which is shrouded in secrecy. As she and her coworkers work to solve the problem they’ve been given, they also poke their noses into the mystery about what problem itself. What are these numbers they’ve been given, and what do they mean? What could be so important and so desperately secret at the same time? (more…)

Joint Review: Gunpowder Alchemy

22837890Gunpowder Alchemy by Jeannie Lin (The Gunpowder Chronicles #1)
InterMix: November 18, 2014 (Steampunk)*

In 1842, the gunpowder might of China’s Qing Dynasty fell to Britain’s steam engines. Furious, the Emperor ordered the death of his engineers—and killed China’s best chance of fighting back…

Since her father’s execution eight years ago, Jin Soling kept her family from falling into poverty. But her meager savings are running out, leaving her with no choice but to sell the last of her father’s possessions—her last memento of him.

Only, while attempting to find a buyer, Soling is caught and brought before the Crown Prince. Unlike his father, the Emperor, the Prince knows that the only chance of expelling the English invaders is to once again unite China’s cleverest minds to create fantastic weapons. He also realizes that Soling is the one person who could convince her father’s former allies—many who have turned rebel—to once again work for the Empire. He promises to restore her family name if she’ll help him in his cause.

But after the betrayal of her family all those years ago, Soling is unsure if she can trust anyone in the Forbidden City—even if her heart is longing to believe in the engineer with a hidden past who was once meant to be her husband… (more…)

Superheroes Anonymous: Pure Fun!

superheroesanonymousSuperheroes Anonymous by Lexie Dunne
Published by Harper Voyager Impulse, November 18th, 2014 (Speculative Fiction / Urban Fantasy)*

My Rating: Outstanding Adventure! vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3

I had the most fun reading this story. Gail Godwin is Hostage Girl. In a world full of superheroes and villains, she has unwittingly become, due to her small stature (her “portability”), and the rumored secret identity of her boyfriend, *the* girl that villains want to kidnap. They all want to draw out her “boyfriend,” the superhero Blaze, and know that he will rescue her. Because he does. Every single time.

Gail herself is quiet, unassuming, and not very self-confident. Small wonder, given that her only worth, as viewed by others, is to do most of the work at her office, and to be a hostage. So she plods along, being taken captive and being rescued, until the day she’s dumped by her boyfriend, and discovers that both he and Blaze are moving to Miami – at the same time as her boyfriend. She is firmly convinced that her boyfriend (sluggish, selfish, rude 24/7 gamer – in fact, I never liked him even a little). Villains lose interest in her, and her life finally returns to normal. Until the day a villain that didn’t get the memo about her breaking up with “Blaze” kidnaps her one last time.

This is such a FUN book.  Nothing gets very dark, although there are dark moments. There’s a pretty even balance between butt-kicking male superheroes and butt-kicking female superheroes, which I enjoyed – one of the latter is named Plain Jane, which I really enjoyed. The life of a superhero is filled with comedic moments: medical visits and fitness tests, physical training sessions with a sadistic Brazilian superwoman, human awkwardness, and eating astonishing amounts of food to fuel superpowers.

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Howl with Werewolves (Halloween Special Part 2)

In the second installment of our Halloween Special series (see the first, on Vampires), we look at my personal favorite supernatural: the Werewolf. Check out some good, better, and best werewolf stories in the list below. Word to the wise urban fantasy reader: Werewolves are sexy, so beware – many of these are romantic to varying degrees.

Just reviewed this week, a witty take on supernaturals living among us.

 

The Silver Wolf. The book that got me started on werewolves: a young, poor orphan, in the decaying Roman empire, sold by her family in marriage for well, the usual – money.

 

In Written in Red, Meg Corbyn, a blood prophet, finds sanctuary from the humans who tortured her in an enclave of the terra indigine, creatures like vampires and werewolves and other shapeshifters. Simon Wolfgard, leader of the enclave, doesn’t know why she doesn’t smell like food, or why he and the others find her so interesting. As Meg learns what it is to live in the wild, Simon discovers how much he wants to protect this strange human.

 

So, this one – not my favorite. But that doesn’t mean you won’t like it! It’s a humorous story about a witch just trying to get by, when werewolves nose their way into her orderly life.

 

The Mercy Thompson books are some of my absolute favorite stories, series, werewolves, EVER. Witty, sometimes dark, romantic, spooky, and upbeat, this is one of the best in the genre.

 

By the same excellent author, starring a different kind of heroine. Anna, victim of a vicious werewolf pack, is an Omega. Yup, that means she’s special. While not as stunningly amazing as the Mercy Thompson series, it’s still worth a read. You’ll want to start with the opening novella, Alpha and Omega. It may or may not be part of your copy of Cry Wolf.

 

Just started Silver, a serendipitous library find, and it has a different focus: Silver is a young wolf who has been tortured, poisoned, and is flirting (pretty sure I meant flitting there) between reality and visions. When Andrew Dare, enforcer for the East Coast packs, finds her, he’s driven to protect her and find out what happened.

 

Admittedly, I’ve only seen the TV series. But it’s a fun show! Might be a good book, too…

 

This is the second in a series about a former cop, who left the force to become a private eye because she developed a degenerative sight condition. In this one, her new sort-of-partner, Henry Fitzroy, bastard son of King Henry VIII and vampire, head out to the country to solve a mystery involving werewolves. Tanya Huff writes superbly drawn characters and complex settings and plots. A longer haul than most urban fantasy, this is totally worth it.

 

Sort of a tongue-in-cheek comedy of manners set in a steampunk Victorian England where the Queen has werewolf investigators and deals with vampires, Soulless begins a fun series about a soulless young woman, Alexia, and her encounters and involvement with the supernaturals in the community.

 

Crimefighting meets werewolves again in this one by Eileen Wilks. Lily Yu, a police detective, needs the help of Rule Turner to infiltrate the werewolf clans and find a killer.

 

I nearly forgot this one, though I don’t know how! The Psy-Changeling series is a truly enjoyable series that mixes humans, weres (mostly panthers and wolves) and a psychic race, in an alternate, sort of futuristic United States. Each book pairs a new hero and heroine, so if you’re into urban fantasy romance, you’ll probably enjoy these. Start with Slave to Sensation.

And if you want to get your werewolf fix in 5 minutes or less, here is the famous music video werewolf:

Prepare to be Charmed by Charming

charming Charming by Elliott James
Published by Orbit: September, 2013 (Urban Fantasy)

My Rating: Outstanding Adventure!

John Charming is half werewolf, half Knight Templar. During a supernaturally long lifespan, he has been a knight-in-training, an orphan, a despised werewolf, and a fugitive (from the same knights who raised  and trained him). He’s become apathetic about his life, tending bar in a small town in Appalachia, when a vampire and a blonde walk into his bar. That’s how it starts, and it doesn’t end until he’s been co-opted into a band of vampire hunters, nearly killed at least twice, stalked and ambushed, and visited by his fiancee’s ghost.

The action never stops, with tension, distrust, and attraction between the main characters; a sociopathic teenage vampire with delusions of world domination and a hatred of everyone; and jealousy among the vampire hunting cohort. Which doesn’t stop at turning green, but involves some ambushing and hand-to-hand combat, among other exciting things.

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Illusion, danger, and mystery in The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter

bulletcatcher

The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter, by Rod Duncan
August 26th, 2014 – Angry Robot Books (Steampunk)*

My rating: Beach read that I might read again (3.5/4)

In this steampunk novel, Elizabeth Barnabus lives on her own in the restrictive, Calvinist-esque society of the Anglo-Scottish Republic. For propriety’s sake, and to facilitate her private eye investigations, she tells everyone she lives with her brother, a private investigator. In truth, as the daughter of one of the greatest illusionists of her time, she disguises herself as her brother as she conducts her work, when she pays her rent, and whenever he is required to assuage her neighbors’ curiosity or concern. This book encompasses one of her investigations, involving the Duke and Duchess of Bletchley, from Elizabeth’s home country – which Elizabeth fled in exile after a nobleman decided he wanted her, impoverished her family, and bought up all their debts so he could claim her as payment. The Duchess of Bletchley asks Elizabeth to find her missing brother, who escaped punishment for using forbidden (un-patented) technology. While Elizabeth agrees to take on the case, the danger that comes with it give her pause. Along the way, she falls in with circus performers, evades pursuit by the Patent Office (tasked with the regulation and prohibition of new, un-patented technologies), and disguises herself as many different characters.  (more…)

Irenicon: Part Renaissance Fantasy, Part Allegorical Fantasy, All Interesting

46031_Irenicon_MMP.inddIrenicon by Aidan Harte
(The Wave Trilogy #1)
Published by Jo Fletcher Books, March 29, 2014 (Historical Fantasy)*

My rating: Beach vacation

Irenicon has so many different elements. Alternate history of the European Renaissance variety, steampunk fantasy, understated romance, superhero battles, magical water creatures. It also has elements of religious allegory.

This book tells the story of Captain Giovanni, architect to the Concordian empire, and Sofia, heir to the city of Rasenna. Their lives intertwine when Giovanni is sent to build a bridge over the wily Irenicon river in Rasenna, a city dominated by two gangs. Decades ago, the Irenicon was flooded by a mechanical device built by Concord, to depress the wealth and power of its rival. Lives, homes, and people were destroyed, and since then, two groups of tower-jumping gangs have ruled the north and south sides of the city. Sofia is approaching her 17th birthday, and the day she officially becomes Countess of Rasenna. Her position and birth  make her a powerful pawn in the struggle between the gangs, but she has plans of her own. Giovanni, disgraced architect of Concord, meets her when he arrives to build the bridge over the Irenicon. Though it is a symbol and tool of Concord’s dominion over Rasenna, and will be used by an invading army to pass through the city, Giovanni gives it a different significance – one of unity. As the bridge is built, politics in the city shift, power moving swiftly between the north and south sides. Outside Rasenna, Concord makes plans of its own, which are revealed as the plot advances. (more…)

This time, Rapunzel’s story

rueSold for Endless Rue by Madeleine E. Robins
Published by Forge Books, May 14, 2013 (Historical Fiction)

My rating: I’ll definitely go here again / Outstanding adventure! (4.5)

In keeping with our theme of late – that is, fairy tale retellings, I add to our list Rapunzel’s story, as told by Madeleine E. Robins, in Sold for Endless Rue.

As the blurb says, this book does explain why Rapunzel’s mother/witch locked her in a tower. It tells the story compellingly and convincingly, with fully believable human failings and motives. A masterful blend of historical fiction and the familiar “Rapunzel” fairy tale, Sold for Endless Rue enchants readers with stories about the three women central to the original fairy tale.

In the first narrative, Laura, a young girl running from captivity, hides in the home of a mountainside healer named Crescia. She becomes the healer’s apprentice, studying and working hard to continue Crescia’s good works. Eventually, her tale brings her to Salerno, where she studies to be the first female physician in her lifetime. In the second tale, Agnesa, young wife of a merchant family scion, moves in next door to the medica, and they become friendly neighbors. In the third and final story, Laura’s young daughter struggles between doing her duty to her adoptive mother and following her heart.

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Girl Genius – a rolicking fun ride and a must-read!

girl geniusGirl Genius Omnibus Volume One: Agatha Awakens by Phil and Kaja Foglio
Tor Books, 2012 (Graphic Novel / Steampunk / Fantasy / Adventure)

My rating: Outstanding Adventure!

This marks my first graphic novel review (on this blog, but also, ever). I occasionally read graphic novels, and it depends on the artwork, but I generally enjoy them. This one caught my eye because, hello! “Girl” in the title, a woman wearing glasses and holding a wrench on the cover… Graphic novels are so rarely written and designed for, and marketed to women. Not to mention, it’s won an award from School Library Journal and multiple Hugo awards!

Billed as a “steampunk fantasy adventure,” it is all of those things.The story is set during an Industrial Revolution that has driven Europe to war. Scientists (magicians?) gifted with “the Spark” are coveted, trapped, employed, and used to develop weapons. Previously, a ruling family, by the name of Heterodyne, kept the peace – but they are all dead or fled.

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