Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Favorite Western Films

It’s another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl!

Today’s official topic is Non-book Freebie, to pick anything other than books for the list. I’m going with a list of movies, something I occasionally talk about here. This time, it’s a little different of a genre with a list of 10 Favorite Western Films.

Due to my parents and some influential uncles, I have been a fan of the western genre since I was a kid. I was watching John Wayne movies at the same time I was obsessed with Disney. I’m still a fan of the genre and enjoy discovering gems I haven’t seen, and I enjoy a well-written western book, too.

This list highlights my favorites — stars and stories. It covers quite a few decades, mostly beyond the peak of westerns on the big screen (50s and 60s). My list is reflective of my tastes and showcases story elements I still love in other genres of film AND books (friendships! justice! action and dynamic casts!). In chronological release order, here’s my list of…

(click the titles to learn more about each one)

10 Favorite Westerns

El Dorado (1966)

The middle film in 3 similar storied titles by director Hawks and star John Wayne, this one stands out for its script and pacing that feels most authentic. Plus it’s a lawmen-and-town-against-a-bully situation.

Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970)

Irony, humor, and Clint Eastwood trying not to be attracted to a nun.

poster of Bog Jake

Big Jake (1971)

A family saga with an estranged father back to retrieve his kidnapped grandson. This has some great moments recognizing the changing culture of the west into a modern state. And John Wayne’s own son, Patrick, plays his son in the movie — they have some fun dialogue and scenes that make them more interesting because of their real-life relationship.

Silverado (1985)

A perfect western, and one of my very favorites on this list. It has a fantastic ensemble cast, great cinematography, and a corrupt sheriff storyline that feels fresh.

Quigley Down Under (1990)

A Tom Selleck western set in Australia, it has some iconic moments and highly quotable lines. As many times as I’ve seen it, it never gets old. And, Alan Rickman is a villain!

Wyatt Earp (1994)

I prefer this Earp biopic-imagining to the more popular Tombstone (though I still love Val Kilmer in that one!), mostly because it takes its time as a more thoughtful depiction of Earp’s life.

Maverick (1994)

This is a movie adaptation of the beloved 1950s James Garner TV character. The plucky gambler is played here by Mel Gibson, but Garner does have a great part himself. This is a quintessential 90s movie with a humorous script done right.

Appaloosa (2008)

Yes, this movie is about lawmen, justice, and has a little romance. But it’s a modern classic because of its depiction of loyalty and friendship (dare I say bromance?) between Viggo Mortensen’s and Ed Harris’ (who directs!) characters. Quality visual storytelling.

The Magnificent Seven (2016)

yes I prefer the remake! Denzel Washington and Christ Pratt leading a unique cast of avenging gunslingers in an over-the-top ending. Enough said.

The English (2022 miniseries)

The only miniseries I’ve chosen, this is a bit of a dark horse on my list. It’s a recent one I watched and enjoyed with Emily Blunt shouldering the story. I loved the cinematography and musical choices for the score. It’s a story that takes its time, sometimes slow at times, but one that brings every single detail full circle with meaning. (a side note: it definitely lives up to its “mature” content rating)

What did you choose for this week’s freebie topic? Are you a fan of westerns? Have you seen any on my list? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Book & TV Pairings, Edition 8

Welcome to another post where I pair books and films or series with similar themes or content! This week I’m bending my own rules a bit and featuring a TV series instead of a movie. This series and book share in common a small town setting, mystery plot, and professional law enforcement officials as main characters: False Pretense and Longmire.

Poster image for "Longmire" series on Netflix

Longmire (2012-2017)

Longmire is a modern western, of sorts, that focuses on a small Wyoming town and Walt Longmire, the sheriff. It is actually based on a book series, too! It shares in common with the book False Pretense local lore — that of Native American culture and traditions — and a political-centric plot that often solves murders, disappearances, and other crimes. It has a strong lead cast with some quirky and courageous characters.

I have not watched all of the later seasons of Longmire after it moved from network TV to Netflix, but it’s on my want-to-watch list!

False Pretense by Heather Day Gilbert (A Murder in the Mountains #4)

False Pretense is a page-turning mystery that’s the last in a book series set in a small town in Virginia. Though it doesn’t have a western theme, it does have a similar “feel” with a thriller of a storyline and a likable protagonist involved with local law enforcement and politics (her husband is the mayor). Its plot has a slight supernatural/fantastical element which cleverly gives a local legend traction in the story, another aspect that links it to Longmire.

Are you a fan of mysteries or modern westerns? Do you have book, movie, or TV recommendations similar to these? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Mini Book Reviews, edition 5 (all the genres + Christmas novellas)

Welcome to another round of mini reviews! This is a variety post with several different genres represented, along with some Christmas stories! If you’re like me, you just might read Christmas novels and novellas into January (or any time!) because you want that seasonal wonder to last a little bit longer.

Per usual, please visit the Goodreads links in each title to learn more about each book!

False Pretense by Heather Day Gilbert (A Murder in the Mountains 4) | Buckneck, VA, present day | Mystery

This is a page-turning mystery with a great small town setting (Buckneck, VA). With a wide cast of many possible suspects and friendlies, I enjoyed this well-paced, slightly short (in a good way) hometown thriller with a likable protagonist and her clan. A slight supernatural/fantastical element cleverly gives a local legend traction in the story, with the reader wondering about its true nature until the very end.

The Even Odder Couple by Julia Christianson (Apple Valley Love Stories 4) | “Apple Valley”, OR | Rom-Com

This is a sweet contemporary friends-to-lovers/opposites attract romance with a little comedy! I adore Spencer as a beta hero, and I like the way he and Tess (grow to see and support each other deeply. The small town setting PLUS a summer camp make it stand out, and the small moments of the characters’ internal dialogue are hilarious. The plot loses a tiny bit of momentum toward the middle, in my opinion, but the ending holds a few surprises and is cute.

This is the first novel by Julie Christianson I’ve read, and I HAVE to blame her Instagram following for bringing it to my attention + hooking me with teasers. I’m always on the lookout for beta heroes in fiction, and Spencer did not disappoint!

A Texas Christmas Carol by Karen Witemeyer | 1895 London, TX | Historical Romance & Western Novella

Karen Witemeyer has the talent of writing fully-developed characters in a short format with a great balance of levity and emotions. I loved the way a classic tale (Dickens) influences a few details of the story and the concept of a miserly hero whose journey enlightens him to giving and grace. It’s always fun to read a historical-set Christmas story.

Like A Holiday Inn by Lindsay Harrel (Port Willis Romance 4) | “Port Willis”, Cornwall, England | Contemporary Romance Novella

Like A Holiday Inn returns to the quaint “Port Willis” in Cornwall, England for another of Harrel’s sweet Christmas stories. Since this is the 4th novella in the series, familiar readers will recognize the heroine and hero and their respective families (who delightfully show up in the story!).

Rebecca is a prickly, strong lady who learns a bit about what it means to be vulnerable, and really let go and trust in relationships (both romantically and with her fam). Benjamin is the perfect opposite to her personality with his charm, banter, and persistent way he pursues peeling back her layers. His backstory and depth prove to be important in making a connection with Rebecca.

All the charming Christmas things happen in the story, yet Harrel’s writing never makes them feel clich√©. From new Christmas traditions, allll the holiday baking, a snowstorm or two, to a memorable power outage, Rebecca and Benjamin’s relationship grows and finds its stride at the Inn.

A Gift in December by Jenny Gladwell | London, England and Nybergsund, Norway | Contemporary Women’s Fiction/Romance

This is a wonderful story of self-discovery with the protagonist, Jane, learning a lot about herself, her mistakes, and the risks worth taking in life to find real love. A historical storyline is sprinkled throughout (mainly through a few letters), not the main focus but integral to Jane’s storyline, showing an act of bravery related to Norwegian events during WWII and the men and women who risked much for their freedom.

This story hit all the right notes of a European-set Christmas tale (although much of it takes place in November ūüôā ) with a press trip to the forests of Norway as a backdrop for Jenny’s new friendships during her rollercoaster of emotions post-breakup. The romance is something I called early on but it was a DELIGHT to see it unfold in a bit of a quiet way. I also like a point Jane’s supportive friend makes toward the end: it’s way more important to like someone than to just have a superficial attraction to them.

Note to my blog readers: this is a gen market book and contains a tiny bit of language + other content.

Thank you to the publishers for the review copies of False Pretense, A Texas Christmas Carol, and Like a Holiday Inn. The reviews express my honest opinions.

Mini Book Reviews, edition 4

Welcome to another round of mini reviews! Once again, these are books I read for “me”, not with any review or critique in mind, but are some I greatly enjoyed and wanted to share a bit about in this corner of the blogosphere. And, three of these were audiobooks I can highly recommend: Love’s Reckoning, In Honor’s Defense, and What Matters Most.

Please visit the Goodreads links in each title to learn more about each book!

Love’s Reckoning by Laura Frantz (The Ballantyne Legacy 1) | 1794 Pennsylvania, Historical Romance

An epic story of love strong enough to survive pressure, trials, and evil intentions yet still triumph. Eden is a gentle and kind heroine, and Silas is the best sort of hero with his determination and steadfast character.

I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to read this Frantz novel! Now I can say I’ve read all of hers.

Laura’s Shadow by Allison Pittman (Doors to the Past 9) | 1891 and 1974 South Dakota & Minnesota, Historical Romance with Split Time Narrative

What a fascinating multigenerational story! With truly endearing heroines spanning two very different times, it shows human experiences that unite everyone and explores roles of women in very different times. Mariah’s story is one of contrasts, showing loneliness, contentment, and a hope that has influenced her family into the later timeline and POV of her great granddaughter, Trixie. Trixie’s quest to appease her GG Mariah and finding her own stride in career and love mirror Mariah’s figurative searching for peace.

I LOVE this story and can heartily recommend it to fans of historical fiction and romance. Anyone fond of Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Little House fandom can also delight in the story world and realistic influences Laura has on these characters.

And oh, how I love House the cat and his character as a “catalyst” for a bit of Trixie’s romantic storyline! And RON. And his late night calls, love of grilled cheese, and his Mustang.

In Honor’s Defense by Karen Witemeyer (Hanger’s Horsemen 3) | 1895 Texas, Historical Romance & Western

This is everything I’ve come to expect and love about Karen Witemeyer’s romantic westerns! This one combines a touch of adventure, a good amount of humor, and a well-matched romantic couple — Luke and Damaris are so adorable together, from their meet cute to their tender friendship and unfurling romance. It was great to “catch up” with the rest of the horsemen and see the conclusion of their brotherhood play out with an appropriate HEA.

I really, really enjoyed the audiobooks of this entire series. With the fast pace of this one, I was happy to listen to it on a road trip with fewer breaks between segments.

What Matters Most by Courtney Walsh (Nantucket Love Story 3) | Nantucket, MA & Chicago, IL; Contemporary Romance

Courtney Walsh has delivered another relatable, emotional romance. This one pairing an unlikely couple who share a connection — one that the heroine, Emma, isn’t privy to for part of the story. This sets up a secret-keeping hero situation, which becomes slightly frustrating but completely believable due to the circumstances of Jamie’s past and his heart. I was rooting for them to find forgiveness for each other and for themselves, a deeper theme Walsh explores with aplomb. The return to Nantucket as a setting was picturesque and a perfect backdrop for this story to unfold.

see that develop. I really enjoyed the return to Edinburgh for the setting of A Wicked Conceit.

Review: “A Cowboy for Keeps” by Jody Hedlund

Welcome to my blog! I’m reviewing Jody Hedlund’s latest novel today, A Cowboy for Keeps, the start of a new western historical romance series.

About the Book

Greta Nilsson’s trip west to save her ailing little sister, Astrid, could not have gone more wrong. First, bandits hold up her stagecoach, stealing all her money. Then, upon arriving in Fairplay, Colorado, she learns the man she was betrothed to as a mail-order bride has died. Homeless, penniless, and jobless, Greta and her sister are worse off than when they started.

Wyatt McQuaid is struggling to get his new ranch up and running and is in town to purchase cattle when the mayor proposes the most unlikely of bargains. He’ll invest in a herd of cattle for Wyatt’s ranch if Wyatt agrees to help the town become more respectable by marrying and starting a family with Greta. But when old insecurities and surprising revolutions arise, can a union born out of desperation survive?

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

It has been a long time since I’ve read a western! A Cowboy for Keeps is a great one, with a handsome rancher, outlaws, Native Americans, a beautiful mountain setting, and a heroine determined to provide a better life for her sister.

This story progresses quickly, with some unexpected surprises and just enough adventure. Hedlund’s descriptions of the Colorado setting are spot-on (Colorado is a fav place of mine to visit, in books and real like!). Long time fans of westerns will be satisfied with the expected elements of the story, too, like the hard work of running a cattle ranch, the beauty & isolation of the west, and the colorful & witty characters — like Judd and Astrid! There is one slight secret that propels the plot forward which I felt was a little formulaic, but I like the way it is resolved in a realistic way.

The relationship between Greta and Wyatt is my favorite aspect of the novel. Let me remind you this is a CLASSIC Jody Hedlund marriage-of-convenience setup that’s original and full of her signature swoony-kissing-moments — sometimes with banter & sometimes super meaningful. Beyond their progressing romance, Greta and Wyatt need the faith of each other. I like how Greta’s belief in him and his dream becomes increasingly important to Wyatt, and redeems a part of his past he had been carrying. Likewise, Greta’s time at the ranch helps her to rely on God and realize she’s not a burden to those around her.

I’m looking forward to the next book in the series! I have a feeling we’ll see more of Wyatt’s family featured in the future ;).

Thank you to the publisher for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Review: “Knox” by Susan May Warren (Montana Marshalls #1)

It’s been quiet lately in my little corner of the blogging world, but it is NOT for lack of good books! I have been reading some great stories and will be sharing more about them soon.

One novel I finished this week was the first in Susan May Warren‚Äôs new independently-published series: The ‚ÄúMontana Marshalls‚ÄĚ series. Knox kicks off the family saga with a ‚Äėgallop‚Äô straight into action and drama with more stories to come.

About the Book

He’s not looking for trouble…

Montana rancher Knox Marshall’s danger years are behind him. A former bull-rider, he now runs the Marshall family ranch, raising champion bucking bulls for the National Professional Bullrider’s Expo (NBR-X). Wealth and success are his, but life is stable, expected, and‚Ķordinary.¬† But he wants more from life…¬†

But trouble is looking for her…

Kelsey Jones just wants a safe life, a family, a home. Onstage, the beautiful rising star of the Yankee Belles becomes the person she longs to be Рvivacious and confident Рburying the brokenness she carries from a violent assault. Becoming NBR-X’s next country act is key to outrunning her past and achieving the success and security she craves. 

When trouble finds them both…

Knox and Kelsey’s paths collide when an explosion at an NBR-X event traps them in the rubble and leaves them reeling. Kelsey‚Äôs crippling nightmares return, but for Knox, an obsession to find the bomber is ignited.¬†

What will it cost him to protect her? 

When Kelsey‚Äôs past threatens Knox‚Äôs family, he’ll have to choose between saving the Marshall legacy or becoming the protector he’s always longed to be.¬†

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

Equal parts family drama, modern western, and romantic suspense, the first installment in Susan’s new Marshall Family series, Knox, sets the bar and the excitement level high for the rest of the series to come!

Susan May Warren always manages to perfectly balance story, character development, and strong themes all in a fast-paced package. In this case, action, ranching, and life as a rising country band combine with the steadiness of Knox and the strength of Kelsey; likable and supportive (in a friendship and brotherhood way) secondary characters; and themes of compassion and the steadfastness of God’s love.

I was thrilled to encounter cameos and mentions of some favorite characters from Susan’s previous series, some of which I know I still need to read! Also, the references to music, TV westerns, and pop culture (hello, Kevin Costner and Bodyguard) were wonderfully incorporated into the story and just plain fun.

Oh, and since Susan’s stories are all wonderfully connected and layered, the next book is set up well. With the way THIS ONE ENDS, I need Tate’s story NOW!

Thanks to Relz Author Support for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Book Review + Giveaway: “Love’s Silver Lining” by Julie Lessman

loves-silver-lining-tour

Travel with me to the Old West — Virginia City, NV, to be exact — while we talk about a romantic adventure from author Julie Lessman,¬†Love’s Silver Lining,¬†the first book in her new “Silver Lining Ranch” series. (Once again, Julie tackles another genre…. and does is SO WELL!) Before you go, be sure to enter the GIVEAWAY by commenting on this post!

About the Book

Love's Silver Lining

Series: Silver Lining Ranch

Genre:  Christian, Historical, Romance

Publisher: Indie

Desperate to escape an arranged marriage to a womanizer, twenty-two-year-old Maggie Mullaney flees New York for Virginia City, Nevada with her Aunt Liberty, two spunky suffragists intent on bettering the lives of women. Fresh out of nursing school, Maggie hopes to devote herself to serving others rather than just one man, a goal quickly affirmed when she encounters Blaze Donovan, a womanizing cowboy who both riles and rouses her pulse. But when Aunt Liberty’s parents’ house burns down, she and Maggie are coerced into staying at the ranch of Liberty’s ex-husband, Finn McShane, who just happens to be the uncle of the cocky cowboy Maggie had hoped to avoid.

If there‚Äôs one thing twenty-nine-year-old Blaze Donovan can‚Äôt abide, it‚Äôs respectable women who spout piety and prayer, so when he butts heads with perky Maggie Mullaney at St. Mary Louise Hospital, he wants to stay as far away from her as he possibly can. Unfortunately, she now lives in the bedroom next to his in his uncle‚Äôs ranch house, a revolting development that sends Blaze to The Ponderosa Saloon more than usual. But when Maggie interferes in Blaze‚Äôs life by converting his favorite ‚Äúdisrespectable‚ÄĚ girl, Blaze is determined to make her pay. Only problem is‚ÄĒthe price HE has to pay may be a little too steep for his heart.

NOTE: This book is a sweet inspirational with a bit of a higher level of romantic passion. (*Courtney’s note: I would say this book isn’t any different than other Julie Lessman books — readers know how she writes “passion with a purpose”.*)

GOODREADS | AMAZON

About the Authorjulie-turquoise-in-chair_orig

Julie Lessman is an award-winning author whose tagline of ‚ÄúPassion With a Purpose‚ÄĚ underscores her intense passion for both God and romance. A lover of all things Irish, she enjoys writing close-knit Irish family sagas that evolve into 3-D love stories: the hero, the heroine, and the God that brings them together.

Author of The Daughters of Boston, Winds of Change, Heart of San Francisco, and Isle of Hope series, Julie was American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Author of the Year and has garnered over 18 Romance Writers of America and other awards. Voted #1 Romance Author in Family Fiction magazine‚Äôs 2012 and 2011 Readers Choice Awards, Julie‚Äôs novels also made Family Fiction magazine‚Äôs Best of 2015, Best of 2014, and ‚ÄúEssential Christian Romance Authors‚ÄĚ 2017, as well as Booklist‚Äôs 2010 Top 10 Inspirational Fiction and Borders Best Fiction. Her independent novel A Light in the Window was an International Digital Awards winner, a 2013 Readers‚Äô Crown Award winner, and a 2013 Book Buyers Best Award winner. Julie has also written a self-help workbook for writers entitled Romance-ology 101: Writing Romantic Tension for the Sweet and Inspirational Markets. Contact Julie through her website and read excerpts from each of her books at¬†http://www.julielessman.com.

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Review

Love’s Silver Lining¬†is a fun western romance with entertaining matches of wits and a strong thread of faith. It’s Bonanza-meets-McLintock with its familial-cast and clashing romantic couples, complete with two that strongly remind me of John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara with his determination and her fiery temper!

In Julie’s signature romance style, this story follows two different couples as they navigate their shared histories, pride, stubbornness, and attraction. While Blaze and Maggie’s relationship has rivalry and plenty of spark, my most favorite parts of the story involve the other prominent couple, Finn and Liberty, whom you can meet in the prequel novella, For Love of Liberty.¬†The importance of faith (especially a shared faith within a marriage), and many facets of trust are naturally incorporated into the story, along with encouraging scriptures.

From its wild west setting to its suffragists, train rides, and kisses, Love’s Silver Lining is just the right sort of western for romance lovers that offers a smile and an encouraging message. I’m excited to see where the next book in the series takes these characters! (And I hope there will be more of Finn and Liberty’s sparring!)

Thank you to the author and SLB tours for a review copy. This is my honest review.

Giveaway

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Comment on this blog post for a chance to win an e-copy of Love‚Äôs Silver Lining! Share a favorite book, western, what you’re reading now, ANYTHING!

Giveaway is open Internationally and will end at 11:59 on 7/7/18.

Tour Stops

July 2-Locks, Hooks and Books
July 3-The Power of Words | The Green Mockingbird
July 4-Reading Is My SuperPower | Faithfully Bookish
July 5-Book by Book | Why Not? Because I Said So!
July 6-cherylbbookblog
July 7-Mindy,¬† reviewer‚Äč

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Review: “Long Time Gone” by Mary Connealy

Today’s blog post is all about author Mary Connealy’s recent western release from Bethany Hour Publishers, Long Time Gone,¬†book # 2 in “The Cimmaron Legacy” series. In this story, Mary’s¬†characteristic dry humor is coupled with family drama, plenty of western action, and a romance.

About the Book
The Boden clan thought their troubles were over with the death of a dangerous enemy. But with new evidence on Cole’s shooting, Justin can’t deny that the plot to take their ranch was bigger than one man. While the doctor and his distractingly pretty assistant help Cole, Justin has to uncover the trail of a decades-old secret as danger closes in.

Review

Long Time Gone by Mary ConnealyThe saga of the Bodens continues as they try to dispel threats to their livelihood and search out an informant among their ranch hands. While enough detail is included to make it stand on its own, I think a reader would enjoy this story more if it were read in sequence to know the background of the characters. The second son, Justin Boden, is the main character of this story. His attitude is understandably that of a middle child: out to prove himself to his family¬†as a leader. This proves to be quite comical as he’s up against his older brother, Cole, in a few situations. He’s completely endearing because his tough exterior conceals a caring heart that just wants to take care of his family.

While the focus is on the Bodens and Justin much of the time, Angie Dupree, the love interest and the doctor’s “pretty assistant”, was another perspective shared throughout the book. I though her character and persona were important and the most dynamic emotionally. As she was revealed to have more “grit” than I first thought, I was cheering her on. Her journey is one of learning to find strength in independence while simultaneously realizing it’s a privilege to accept someone’s protection and care.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable western rom-com. The action-packed nature of Long Time Gone keeps the pages turning quickly as these characters learn important lessons of love and faith in the middle of the whirlwind drama. While most things are tidied up by the end, lingering questions as to the source of the family’s “threat” remain… which just means we’ll get to have more fun with the next book of the series!

Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for the complimentary review copy of this novel. This is my honest review.

Check out my review of book 1 in the series:

No Way Up

Book Review: “No Way Up” by Mary Connealy

Some days I feel like I could have lived in Victorian England and taken afternoon tea with dainty sandwiches. But most days, I think I could have lived in the old west on a ranch, riding horses in the mountains. Since I live in modern times (and I’m extremely thankful for electricity and indoor plumbing), I’ll have to settle for watching or reading westerns instead.

No Way UpWhen I’m in need of such a reading fix, Mary Connealy is a go-to author for action, romance, and humor in realistic AND historically accurate western settings. Her most recent novel,¬†No Way Up,¬†delivered on all counts. Read on for my review.

About the BookWhen Cimarron ranch patriarch Chance Boden is caught in an avalanche, the quick actions of hired hand Heath Kincaid save him. Badly injured, Chance demands that his will be read and its conditions be enforced immediately.

Without anyone else to serve as a witness, Heath is pressed into reading the will. If Justin, Sadie, and Cole Boden don’t live and work at home for the entire year, the ranch will go to their low-down cousin Mike.

Then Heath discovers the avalanche was a murder attempt, and more danger might follow. Deeply involved with the family, Heath’s desire to protect Sadie goes far beyond friendship. The danger keeps them close together, and their feelings grow until being apart is the last thing on their minds.

Find the book on Goodreads | Amazon | Mary’s Website

Review

Mary sets up her characters’ vivid personalities so well that you can imagine their expressions and reactions when scenes of rapid conversation come around. Her writing style is witty and humorous while never silly. It comes across in her storytelling and delivery so¬†the characters can maintain a necessary seriousness in their dialogue.

Heath Kincaid might be familiar to fans of Mary’s previous series, the “Kincaid Brides” series. He’s the littlest brother of the family who possesses the trademark strength,¬†independence, and stubbornness of that clan. He misses his brothers more than he realizes, and time with Sadie’s own brothers is good for him. The dynamic with Heath and between the brothers, Cole and Justin, was very fun!¬†They challenged each other, both¬†in a badgering and encouraging manner.

Sadie learned more about her family through these adventures. She was reminded of the importance of her relationships with her brothers, and the legacy of love her parents wanted her to value. She was a fierce character who knew herself well. She knew when to behave as a proper female should, AND when to fight against convention (like scaling a mountain in pants or defending her family with rocks. Yes, rocks.).

The geography of the Boden ranch and surrounding land plays a big part in the story. It was fascinating to learn a little bit of the history linking the native Pueblo people to the terrain. (Random personal note: since I’ve seen a tiny bit of this area of New Mexico, it was even more interesting.)

This story is more than an action-packed, adventurous western with a sweet romance, it’s a story of the importance of family and the strength of that bond. It emphasizes God’s provision and recognizes His ultimate power¬†over the plan of our lives. Needless to say, I can’t wait to see what’s in story for this Boden clan in the next book!

Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for the complimentary review copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

Bonus note: the prequel e-novella to this series, The Boden Birthright, is FREE right now on Kindle! It was a great story on its own, AND it set up the backstory of the Bodens very well.

Review: “With This Ring?” Novella Collection

Sometimes you just need a lighter story with a happy ending. That’s just what I found with Bethany House’s recent novella collection With This Ring?: A Novella Collection of Proposals Gone Awry by authors Karen Witemeyer, Regina Jennings, Mary Connealy, and Melissa Jagears.¬†And with these authors in¬†the western romantic comedy genre, you’re pretty much guaranteed to finish reading with a contented smile and happy feeling.

About the BookWith This RingHumorous Historical Romance Novella
Collection Offers Love and Laughs

Four top historical romance novelists team up in this new collection to offer stories of love and romance with a twist of humor. In Karen Witemeyer’s “The Husband Maneuver,” Marietta Hawkins decides to grab the reins when the ranch foreman she loves seems to be leaving forever. Regina Jennings offers “Her Dearly Unintended,” where friends stranded by a rising river pretend to be newlyweds when a dangerous stranger arrives.

Mary Connealy’s “Runaway Bride” finds a Texas ranger getting more than he expected when he rescues a young woman fleeing a dangerous arranged marriage. And Melissa Jagears’ “Engaging the Competition” finds a young woman forced to assist the man she’s often sparred with after an accident leaves him helpless. Each tale is a fun blend of history and romance that will delight readers.

Review

The Husband Maneuver by Karen Witemeyer

This story was such fun! It’s been a while since I’ve ready anything by Karen, so this was a pleasant reminder of her humorous and skillful style. I liked that the main characters already had a history together. Daniel had his reason for not acting on his feelings for Etta, and once it was revealed, you would agree it was a very honorable reason! Which made me like him even more. This was one of my top 2 favorites in the collection!

Her Dearly Unintended by Regina Jennings

This was a western situation comedy with a bit of depth. Full of layers of legitimate, believable misunderstandings concerning both friendship and love, it told a coming-of-age (and maturity) story. With sass! I particularly liked the setting in the Missouri Ozarks because it is quite close to home for me!

Runaway Bride by Mary Connealy

This one is my other favorite from this collection. Hilarious at times, it has Mary’s signature humor (if you’re a fan of Connealy, I promise you’ll like it). I loved seeing familiar characters from the Trouble in TX and Kincaid Brides series, though new readers might be a little overwhelmed from 1 of the short passages introducing them! My favorite part was how John and Carrie’s relationship progressed. Their almost instant chemistry and subsequent fast-moving relationship was still believable. And, their mutual shyness-then-love story was so sweetly told by Mary. I only wish this one was a little longer because I could’ve read more about these crazy characters and their friends!

Engaging the Competition by Melissa Jagears

This was overall a cute story with an unexpected and pleasant take on the genre — especially with the reversal of roles for the male and female lead. She was the rancher and tough cowgirl and he was the studious school teacher. The hero has the unique impediment of extremely poor eyesight. I was anxious to see where Melissa would take that from the story setup. It proved to be an effective plot device that propelled the characters together and taught a lesson in “being enough”: your pride shouldn’t cause¬†you to prove yourself to others if it, in turn, belittles them.

Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for providing a complimentary review copy in exchange for my honest review.