In Honor’s Defense

Author: Karen Witemeyer

Series: Hanger’s Horsemen #3

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: June 7, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A fun and whimsical historical romance that fans of the genre will greatly enjoy.

Luke Davenport thought the hardest thing he would ever have to live through was his time on the battlefield. He’s fought for those around him unable to fight for themselves and now he is the only one of his Horsemen brothers left to battle his demons within. Fighting and protecting others is in his blood; when a job comes up for him to track down bandits, he knows it is perfect for him. Damaris Baxter has moved to Texas to care for her nephew, Nathaniel, after her brother passes away. Having a family was never something she wanted until it was thrust upon her, now she craves to provide support and stability to Nathaniel. When Luke tries to help Nate and grows fond of Damaris, he also finds a family he never knew he needed and wants desperately to keep.

Karen Witemeyer tackled some very tough topics with this book but did so in a way that readers won’t be turned away be the hard issues. That is a hard task for any author to attempt, let alone do well, but this is a case of an author that knows what she is doing. The Characters of Luke and Damaris lead us through the story with grace and ease, readers will feel for the characters and be drawn into the story with all they are having to deal with. This is the third in the series and the continuation of characters and their stories makes for a great read. Historical fiction can sometimes be a slow read for me, but I felt like this story went quickly and kept my attention throughout. I would recommend reading this series in order to get the most out of it. Readers that enjoy historical romance will surely want to add this to their collection.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

To Tame a Cowboy

Author: Jody Hedlund

Series: Colorado Cowboys #3

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: May 3, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

An old west romance that shows how healing the heart can help in more ways than one.

Brody McQuaid may have survived the war, but he is not the same man as before he left, something inside of him died. He spends his days trying to save wild horses and time with his niece. The horses are being killed off by ranchers angry that the horses are feeding on the open grass and taking the land and food away from their cattle. Veterinarian Savannah Marshall ends up working with Brody to try and save the horses after running away from the man her father had chosen for her to marry. Now they both have the trouble of the ranchers and Savannah’s family coming after them.

When reading a historical romance, especially a western historical romance, you go in with a certain expectation as a reader. I am not usually entertained as much with these types of books but did find this one enjoyable. I don’t know if it was the horse aspect or what, but I did enjoy the story. This is the third in a series and I had not read the others but felt that this was still enjoyable on its own. Brody and Savannah had a great chemistry and even with all they were both dealing with they were able to work together and moved the story along at a great pace. If you enjoy western romantic suspense this will be a great one to add to your collection.

The Element of Love

Author: Mary Connealy

Series: Lumber Barons Daughters #1

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: March 1, 2022

Rating: 3 out of 5.

New historical, western series will be a fit for genre lovers.

Laura Stiles and her two sisters have learned to handle their mother’s new husband without much of a problem until they learn he is planning to marry them off to his friends. Their father had a lumber dynasty that is supposed to be theirs, but now they must run away to find their own man to marry and be able to have legal claim to what their father left them. In their rush to get away, Laura brings her and her sisters into a mission group heading to California. They find themselves a perfect fit for the group with a skillset needed to help. The mission parson, Caleb has secrets in his past that he does not want to come to light, but he could be just the person to help Laura get her inheritance.

Let me start this review by saying this book is written for a specific audience, if you are not that specific audience you will not enjoy reading this. There are some books you can pick up and even if it is not what you would normally read you can still enjoy reading the story. Not here, I am not normally a fan of historical romance, but I grabbed this one for a quick read, it was quick but not very engaging. Lots of characters with not much development over the course of the 300 pages, especially when it came to our hero/heroine in the story. The plot was nothing deep that required special attention; something simple to breeze through pretty much sums up what this story was. Again, if the historical, western romance is your genre this will probably be one you love, if not maybe move on to something else.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

A Spark of Love

Author: Amanda Cabot

Series: Mesquite Springs #3

Publisher: revell

Release Date: March 1, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

What a great conclusion to the Mesquite Springs series!

Some people just won’t take no for an answer, especially when money is involved.  Alexandra Tarkington must leave New York for her own sanity and safety and decides to go to the booming metropolis of Mesquite Springs, Texas, which is nestled in the hill county and the town where her father is building a hotel.  After leaving a false trail, she arrives in Mesquite Springs to find that the hotel is nowhere close to finished and her father seems to have aged twenty years and taken on a different name.  Instead of being happy to see her, he urges her to return to her aunt in New York, but she knows she can’t and decides to carve out a life for herself here. 

However, things aren’t always as they seem.  The nice man who accompanied her to Texas known as Gabe Seymore happens to be an investigator hired to out her father as a swindler.  But as things progress, Gabe and Alexandra continue to find themselves in dangerous situations that can help but make sparks between them. 

I’ve loved this entire series and each year I get to spend a few days in Mesquite Springs with my favorite characters.  I was glad to see some characters from previous books and how they have been getting along in the town.  Each book is a little predictable, but they are still fun with a little twist of suspense thrown in at the end.  If you love western type clean romances, this is a series for you!

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Dreams Rekindled

Author: Amanda Cabot

Series: Mesquite Springs #2

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: March 2, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Come back to the quaint western town of Mesquite Springs, TX and read Dorothy’s story!

Dorothy Clark has always resigned herself that she will never marry.  After her father died, her mother fell into deep depression, and Dorothy doesn’t want to allow an event to do that to her.  Since her brother got married, she is helping run her sister-in-law’s restaurant, Polly’s Place in their absence.  She has always dreamed of being a writer, but never really had an opportunity.  When a newspaper man relocates to Mesquite Springs to start up a paper, Dorothy feels that she might have finally found her chance for her writing.  But will he stir up more than just words in her?

Mesquite Springs is such a fun town to visit in a book, but do the townsfolk sure get divided easily.  In the first book it was the mayoral race that did it and in this book its about the local pastor.  Readers will have a great time trying to figure out what is going to happen with all the different shady characters that show up in town. 

I liked seeing Dorothy grow more in this book.  She had a little bit of growth as a supporting character previously and really blossomed into this book.  She wasn’t shallow, she is actually very intelligent and good hearted.  I can’t wait to see what is in store for the final book of the trilogy.  I think I know who the main characters will be and am excited to see how it is going to play out!

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Out of the Embers

Out of the embersAuthor: Amanda Cabot

Series: Mesquite Springs #1

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: March 3, 2020

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

New series, same beautiful hill country!

Every time Evelynn Radcliffe returns to the town where her parents were murdered, she always feels that she is being watched. It’s been 10 years since the awful day she was left an orphan. Although many people have left the orphanage she was placed at, she never did. Another young girl named Polly accompanied her today and when they returned, they found the orphanage, and all who were in it, burned to the ground. Wanting to put as much distance between herself and this place, Evelynn and Polly strike out to find a new place to live. They get caught up in a storm outside the town of Mesquite Springs in the Texas hill country where they meet local horse rancher, Wyatt Clark.

Wyatt has aspirations of leaving Mesquite Springs to see the world, or at least the country. Ever since his father was killed by Comanches, Wyatt has felt it was his responsibility to keep the ranch going. With a bit of luck, he has mange to produce a sought-after breed of quarter horses that folks like to use for racing and the Texas Rangers like using for mounts. He has no plans to have a family beyond his mother and sister. When he stumbles on Evelynn and Polly that night in the storm, they become quite the distraction, maybe just the distraction he needs in his life.

I’m a born and raised Texan, so when I get the opportunity to read books set in the beautiful Texas hill country, I jump on it. Amanda Cabot has never ceased to whet my appetite for Texas scenery in her stories. Being transported to the town of Mesquite Springs helped me distract myself from everything going on in the world today. I’m not usually big on historical romances or even western type fiction, but her books always keep me a happy reader. I enjoyed getting to meet the new characters in this setting. Evelynn and Wyatt were both damaged by the loss of one or both parents but had pushed on with their lives. They each had a hole to fill in their lives that they thought could be filled by something else when it turned out to be each other. Sam was easily unlikable from the first time that I met him. His environment growing up obviously fostered this issue, but it kept getting worse. I’m sure we will see him again, probably in the third book, but we will have to wait and see.

If you are a fan of the Texas hill country or historical romances, grab a copy of this book to get your mind in the right place!

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.


KnoxAuthor: Susan May Warren

Series: Montana Marshall

Publisher: Stonewater Books

Release Date: March 12, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Fans of Susan May Warren will not want to miss the beginning of the Montana Marshall series. This is by far the best I have read by her and am aching for the next installment!

After his father died, Knox Marshall knew he must settle down and run the family ranch. His dreams of becoming a professional bull rider put on hold so he can raise champion bulls for the National Professional Bull rider’s Expo. He has a good life on the ranch but starts to wonder if the best has already happened for him until he meets Kelsey Jones. Kelsey has a hard past, her parents were murdered, and she was beaten and left for dead when she was fourteen. Now she puts her past trials into her life as a country singer. No matter how far she goes though she can’t outrun her past to find the safe and secure future for which she longs. When she meets Knox Marshall, everything she has ever known is thrown out the window. With an exploding relationship and more danger around them than either could anticipate, this might be a recipe for disaster or the perfect romance in the making.

Susan May Warren is one of the very best romantic suspense writers on the market. Her Montana Rescue series is still one of my very favorite and as hard as it is for me to say this, I think Knox and the Montana Marshall series might just be even better. I absolutely loved the way she tied in characters from the Montana Rescue series flawlessly into this storyline. I can just see more of those characters popping up in future books in this new series. Tying the two series together in that way could be risky but now with Warren at the helm, she weaved storylines together that other writers wouldn’t dream of being able to make flow. It will be easy for readers to fall for Knox, as well as the other Marshall men, within the first few pages of reading. Knox is everything a cowboy heartthrob should be, and I loved reading about him. The chemistry between him and Kelsey was steaming off the page. Regardless of how much Kelsey wanted to steer clear of any romance, there was no getting past what her heart wanted. Her story line is one of my favorites. I was drawn in by her history and what she went through and how it affected her in the present that everything else flowed and kept me intrigued. I don’t want to spoil the story, but readers will be walking away from this wanting to throw the book at the wall (in a good way) and pacing the hall until they can get their hands on the next in the series. All I can say is if the rest in the series are half as good as the first, readers will have a new favorite author without a doubt. I recommend this book to fans of Susan May Warren and those that may not have read anything by her but love western romantic suspense.

I received a compliment copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Riverbend Reunion

Riverbend ReunionAuthor: Henry McLaughlin

Series: Riverbend Saga #3

Publisher: CreateSpace

Release Date: December 14, 2016

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The third book in the Riverbend Saga brings Michael Archer back to what he has been running from for years and is the best in the series!

Michael Archer feels like the luckiest man in the world. He has just married, Rachel, the woman he is madly in love with, and they have a bright future to look forward to.  He has finally decided to settle down after running from his past for years.  But when he receives a cryptic telegram from his sister Ellie telling him to come home, he feels led to go.  He is hesitant to go because the last time he was home he was saving his sister from their father, who he then stabbed with a pitchfork.  Thinking he had killed his father he runs and doesn’t look back.  Going back might just be the hardest thing he has ever had to do.

After reading all three books in the Riverbend Saga, I can easily say that Riverbend Reunion is the best.  The first two focus on Michael and all he goes through.  With the third, it starts with his sister Ellie and what led to Michael leaving home.  The story then continues for almost a third of the book with Ellie before switching back to Michael. I thought this was an interesting approach, keeping the main character from the first two books mostly absent till a third of the way through, but it worked.  I enjoyed getting the story of Ellie and how she handled all she went through before going back to Michael.  His story in Riverbend was fleshed out enough that it was easy for him to leave and go home to deal with the family issues he had been harboring for years.  I can tell that McLaughlin is growing and improving as a writer with each new book.  The characters are relatable and the story itself is much more tight with the suspense in just the right places.  I’m not sure if there is going to be another in the series, not only do I see potential with a few of the characters being delved into a little further, but also feel it has been wrapped up well if this is the end.  The nice thing about this book was there were no spots were the story came to a stop and I felt like I wanted to be done, I was invested and wanted to see what happened with the characters.  Overall it was very well written and I will be recommending this to readers that enjoy a good western tale with a lot of suspense and redemption throughout.

Riverbend Justice

Riverbend JusticeAuthor: Henry McLaughlin

Series: Riverbend Saga #2

Publisher: CreateSpace

Release Date: January 6, 2016

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

With more action and suspense than the first, this new installment is sure to be a hit with readers.

Michael Archer is having a hard time getting over the guilt of having taken a life, even if it was to try and save another. Before dying, Sam Carstairs asked Michael to clear the name of his son Ben, the original reason for Michael coming to Riverbend.  After dealing with his demons, he and a few new friends head to try and clear Ben’s name.  It is going to be harder than they could have imagined, records are missing and more bodies keep turning up.  It takes Michael being shot and beaten up, a young girl kidnapped, and hurting the girl he is falling in love with to make him put aside all his pain and fears to get to the bottom of what is going on.

Henry McLaughlin has followed up his hit debut novel with an even better, more suspenseful sequel, Riverbend Justice.  At first, I got a little tired of Michael and his attitude of self-pity; luckily, it quickly changed and he became the man he should be.  The mystery of what Michael was trying to solve was even more interesting here than the first.  The characters flowed well with each other and the entire story.  There is a faith message throughout, but also a lot of action.  I do feel this book is more developed than the first in several ways.  Even though it is independently published instead of with a publishing house, the story touches a nerve and keeps you into the story because of the feelings and emotions it brings up.  McLaughlin does a great job bringing you back to the old west with the language he uses to set up the scenes and the characters.  Michael and Rachel are right for each other, that is obvious from the first book. In Riverbend Justice, I found myself connecting more and more with Rachel; she has had a hard past but has turned herself into a strong, independent woman that is not only capable of taking care of herself but also helping to take care of those around her, my kind of lady.  Overall this was a very enjoyable read that I will recommend to lovers of western romances with a nice dose of suspense thrown in for good measure.

Journey to Riverbend

Journey to RiverbendAuthor: Henry McLaughlin

Series: Riverbend Saga #1

Publisher: Tyndale

Release Date: January 24, 2011

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A Christian western with a lot of gunslingers, kidnappings and much more to enjoy.

After unsuccessfully trying to stop the hanging of a man, Michael Archer has a mission. He promised Ben Carstairs that he would find his father for him and try to reconcile with him, even though he is being hung for a crime he didn’t commit.  Michael tried to stop it but couldn’t get the evidence he needed.  Now Michael must travel to the town of Riverbend to find Sam Carstairs, a ruthless business man that kicked his son Ben out and isn’t likely to give Michael the time of day.  As he arrives in Riverbend, Michael meets and quickly finds himself attracted to Rachel Stone who is running from her past and is hesitant to start any kind of relationship.  Sam Carstairs isn’t in town and Michael waits for him.  Soon word gets to town that Sam has been kidnapped on his way home and Michael feels led to join the search party to find Sam and bring the news of his son.  It is a dangerous road ahead and not everyone will make it home alive.

This was the winner of the Christian Writing Guild’s Operation First Novel contest. The writing is well done and the characters are very relatable.  I did feel that it had some unneeded content, especially in the last third where the action needed to pick up speed and instead stalled.  There were a lot of characters, that is a hard thing to pull off and I think it could have helped to cut out about half of them, especially with the search party scenes.  The overall concept of the novel was good, having the characters consider the actions they take and the consequences to their choices.  Even though this is a historical novel, these concepts can be applied to everyday life and we can all learn from the characters and how they deal with their actions and the consequences.  As a debut novel, this was very well done and I recommend it to lovers of historical fiction with a good message.