Western Weird: “The Curse of Jacob Tracy”

19283155The Curse of Jacob Tracy by Holly Messinger
Thomas Dunne Book: December 1, 2015
Genre: Western; Historical Fiction
Source: Free From Library

Beach Vacation

The Curse of Jacob Tracy is the first in a new series, featuring a former seminary student/soldier.

Death constantly lives in the shadow of Jacob Tracy. After surviving the Civil War, Trace discovered that he could see ghosts; this was not a gift that he wanted and each time he tells someone about this gift they die. So, when Miss Sabine Fairweather asks for his assistance and claims to be able to help Trace with his gift, Trace is understandably wary.

Trace has lived for years repressing his ability to see and speak with ghosts. Trace has always believed that his gift was a curse and does his best to ignore it. After starting to do the odd jobs for Miss Fairweather, Trace finds his powers increasing and changing all the while Miss Fairweather tempts him with her knowledge. However, Trace refuses to succumb to the temptation that Miss Fairweather presents, instead running off only to discover that he has been targeted by another man with powers, Merek. It seems that the mysterious and secretive Miss Fairweather is Trace’s only chance for answers, and she needs him just as much as he needs her.  (more…)


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!

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?

To Marry “The Devil You Know”

The Devil You Know by Jo Goodman
Berkley: May 3, 2016
Genre: Historical Romance
Source: Free From Publisher

I’d go there again!

The Devil You Know is the latest Western romance from Jo Goodman and it should be paired with Goodman’s This Gun for Hire. In The Devil You Know Israel McKenna is discovered beaten and bloody on Willa Pancake’s land. Suspicious about how the man ended up in that condition, Willa nonetheless decides to take him in (her precocious sister might have something to do with that). Rather than calming her fears, Israel can’t tell Willa why he ended up where he did in the state that he was; he has very little recollection of his past, and what he does remember he’s not eager to share. (more…)

“Revenge and the Wild”: Western Adventure Falls Flat

21843165Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto
Balzer + Bra: February 2, 2016
Genre: Western; Steampunk
Source: Free From Publisher

The view was nice, but the food was bad.

Revenge and the Wild had a really awesome premise: girl tracks down the cannibals that ate her family. And, it’s also a Western for teens. I’ve been seeing a few Western style YA books out there recently (i.e Vengeance Road, Wake of Vultures etc.), but Revenge and the Wild is the first that I’ve read. There were elements of Revenge and the Wild that I liked, but as a whole I found that there was something lacking.

Westie is seventeen years old and as a child she lost her arm when cannibals attacked her family. Westie was the only survivor. Now as a young woman, Westie continues to search for these cannibals only to discover that they have actually come to her. Her guardian, Nigel, has invented a machine that will amplify the magic in the area, protecting the Native population that live near as well as the magical creatures that share the town with the humans. When a wealthy family comes to town to invest in Nigel’s machine, Westie recognizes them as the cannibals that killed her family. Of course, Nigel (and everyone else) is reluctant to believe that the folks with money are the bad guys, after all, they need the investment. But, Westie refuses to back down on her suspicions and when a few folks wind up dead, it goes a long way to convincing the naysayers. (more…)

Wagering on a Western: ‘The Texan’s Wager’

242344The Texan’s Wager by Jodi Thomas
Jove, October 29, 2002 (Historical Romance; Western)

Rating: Outstanding Adventure!

While I am generally a fan of Regency or Victorian era romances, I’ve had a sudden hankering for the American West. Especially, after reading Ellen O’Connell’s Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Goldwhich I found fantastic in an angsty, sickeningly sweet way . I’ve read a couple western romances in the past that have been hit or miss, but I decided to give Jodi Thomas a shot after seeing her name pop up on many lists for western romance, hoping for a winner, and find one I did. The Texan’s Wager is the first in a series and I totally loved it!

Bailee Moore has agreed to participate in the wife lottery in order to get out of jail. Bailee and her traveling companions have been locked up after possibly killing the man, Zeke, who attacked them. The sheriff decides that to deal with them, he’s going to have the men of the town enter a lottery for the ladies’ hand’s in marriage and handily resolve his problems. Carter McKoy, in a wild, instantaneous impulse, decides to put his name into the ring and by chance ends up married to the practical, spinsterish Bailee. Bailee’s not sure about Carter, her silent groom, but she wants to make the best of a bad situation. Slowly the two of them get to know one another, but trouble brews on the horizon when it seems the man Bailee and co. killed isn’t actually dead, and he’s looking for revenge.

I was totally in love with this book and didn’t put down after picking it up. It’s always fun to find a new author that you like, and I will definitely be looking for more of Thomas’ books, and reading the rest of this series. In the romance department, it was pretty tame, but I loved the relationship development between Carter and Bailee. Carter especially was a refreshing character. You just don’t see very many innocent-type heroes like Carter. After the murder of his parents, he’s basically been the town reclude, never speaking, and totally unfamiliar with the ways of the world. For example, at one point Carter advises Bailee that she could go and live at a “boardinghouse” and he’s got no clue that it’s a whorehouse. It was refreshing to have this kind of character and I liked the complications it brought to the romance.

My one complaint with the book would have to be the under explained events of Bailee’s past. She’s left her family behind to travel out West because she killed someone. This is briefly looked at near the end of the novel, but I kinda feel this is a big deal and I think it deserved some more focus. I would have liked to have found out all of the details for what led Baliee to kill, and I feel like I never got that here.

Overall, I highly recommend this one for fans of Western Romances, and also for fans of romances that focus on the sweeter side of romance. Some may call this “sickly sweet” but I can it awesome and it gets my seal of approval.

Up next on my Western Romance reading education list is Maggie Osbourne, another Western writer who I hear good things about – time will tell.

Similar Reads

Eyes of Silver, Eyes of GoldMountain Wild (Wild, #3)The Officer and the Bostoner

Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold: Like Baliee and Carter, Anne and Cord have a not so great start to married life, but the tough work is worth it in the end.

Mountain Wild: Maggie would be the female version of Carter. She’s innocent in many ways of the world, and it takes an unconventional guy to look past the outer trappings, just like Baliee had to look past Carter’s lack of words.

The Officer and the Bostoner: Allison and Wes marry by happenstance, and like Carter, Wes is hoping to do anything to keep Allison around. I’d say that Wes is the character most like Carter, so if you liked the beta type hero, you’ll likely enjoy this one (or any of Gordon’s books for that matter).

Book Review: Cold Copper

Cold Copper Cold Copper by Devon Monk
Publisher: Roc Trade
Date: July 2, 2013
Genre: Steampunk
Series: Age of Steam, Book 3
My rating: I’d go there again

Cold Copper is the third book in Devon Monk’s steampunk series, Age of Steam. This is a series that I feel keeps getting better with each book as the readers learn more about this alternate American West and the fantastic characters that populate it. This is also a series that must be read in order or you’ll be lost, so fair warning, there may be spoilers ahead for the first two books in the series.

Cold Copper picks up pretty much where book 2, Dead Iron, left off. Cedar Hunt and his brother, Will, have teamed up (reluctantly) with the mysterious Madder brothers to help them hunt down the Holder. The Holder is a dangerous weapon that has been split into many pieces, and as luck would have it, Cedar and Will’s curse makes them the perfect candidates to track the pieces of the Holder. Accompanying the boys on this adventure is the witch and widow, Mae Linston – who is also Cedar’s lady love. Mae has been recently released from her coven and is enjoying her freedom. While the group is on their way to find the pieces of the Holder, they are drawn to the city, Des Moines, Iowa, because of a debt the Madders have to fulfill. Now the Madders and the Hunts have to discover why the children of the city have been disappearing and rescue them if they can, all the while a power hungry mayor tries to lock up the Madders and have them executed. 

Alongside Cedar’s narrative, we also have Rose Small’s. Rose is a brilliant inventor who decided to stay behind with the witches’ coven to help repair Captain Hink’s airship. Rose can’t wait to see the world and hopes that being part of the crew of the airship will take her far and wide; it also helps that she’s in love with the captain. However, the captain’s been spending too much time in the local brothels and Rose is none to happy about that, so she decides to strike off on her own, only to find herself in heaps of trouble that looks to be leading her straight to her old friends in Des Moines.

This was another great addition to the Age of Steam series and I wish I could get my hands on the next book immediately. I felt like there was not enough answers to the questions raised in this one. Why can’t the author write faster??? Is that too much to ask?

As I wrote earlier, this is a series that gets better with each book. With each addition to the series I feel like I get a better understanding of not only the world, but the characters as well. Now, I’m a big fan of character driven type books, so I was initially not a lover of the first book; I felt it was too plot based and I wanted more character information. Luckily I decided to give the second book a shot and have not been disappointed with the direction of the series.

What I also find very interesting about Monk’s writing style is the alternative view points we get from characters. The only consistent person we hear from is Cedar. For the rest, we get characters from an alternate trajectory that eventually converges with Cedar’s narrative. At first I found this technique to be a bit strange and hard to follow, but I have come to appreciate this style and I like that the writing feels like a puzzle that will eventually fit together at the end.

Overall, I loved this newest addition, although I hope in the next book we get something from Will’s point of view. He’s an interesting character since his curse is the reverse of Cedars: he remains in wolf form and only returns as a human for short periods of time. I’m hoping that now Will’s in human form we’ll get more development from him since he seems like a cool and funny character (at least when he’s human). I’m also interested to see how the romantic relationships develop. Mae and Cedar seem like a solid and guaranteed thing (but who knows in the world of books), but I also find Rose and Hink’s relationship to be adorable. Looks like I’ll be waiting awhile for the next one!


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