Review & Giveaway: Palo Duro by Max L. Knight

PALO DURO
by
MAX L. KNIGHT
  Genre: Historical Fiction / Western
Publisher: Page Publishing, Inc.
Date of Publication: September 2, 2017
Number of Pages: 226
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Westward expansion following the civil war ushered in an era of increased conflict between the Southern Plains Indians and white settlers. Peace treaties offered temporary suspension of hostilities, but more often than not resulted in broken promises as the two cultures clashed over land. The construction of frontier forts and towns, the decimation of the buffalo herds, the movement of cattle through Indian lands to burgeoning western markets, – all of these forces threatened a way of life that had existed for centuries.
The Comanche, the Southern Cheyenne, the Kiowa, the Apache all fought to protect their customs and homelands. The clashes were characterized by savagery on both sides – Indian and white. However, finite numbers and options would ensure the tribes’ defeat; they faced certain death or forced relocation and their days were numbered.

Though the Indian wars are the focus of Palo Duro, the novel also captures the spirit of the “Old West” with its depiction of the great cattle drives from Texas into Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado and Montana, the cattle barons and the trail blazers, the outlaws and gunslingers, the lawmen and Texas Rangers, and the settlers and entrepreneurs who built this country. It chronicles an era characterized by heroism, brutality, and bold ventures while paying tribute to a genre that is fading from public consciousness – the western. It is the story of the Southwest United States towards the end of the nineteenth century and the rugged individualism that forged a nation.
5 STAR PRAISE FOR PALO DURO:
This book captured Central Texas in the post-Civil War era better than any other book I’ve read. It was well researched, well written, and easy to read. I enjoyed this book more than Empire of the Summer Moon, the standard setter. I recommend this to readers of any level, even if you dislike history, as this book is that good. 
– Jeffrey R. Murray, Amazon review
Max Knight brought to life the saga of how Texas tamed their frontier. He presents a colorful experience with characters effectively placed throughout his story. If you have any interest in Texas history this book is a must read. – AmazonJacki, Amazon review

Palo Duro is an exceptional novel, well researched; a must read. 
– Chuck B., Amazon review

Reading this book is a great way to deepen and appreciate one’s Texas roots – or if you are not a Texan to understand and enjoy what makes Texas, well, Texas! I found this novel to be especially entertaining as well as informative. Made me want to go back and read Lonesome Dove again! – Michael P., Amazon review

In the spirit of the old Western genre of Zane Grey and L’amour, Max Knight pays homage to our national heritage with this fictional but historically accurate labor of love that warms the heart with his vivid imagery and authentic tone of America’s illustrious and sometimes brutal past. – Chester Sosinski, Amazon review

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Right off the bat, I noticed that this historical fiction novel reads an awful lot like a history book. Not one of those dry, fact-listing history books, but one that was written by an academic author with a bit of an imagination. When Knight is in this mode of writing, his descriptions go beyond the surface skimming details of most historical fiction books. The colorful descriptions range from the beauty and simplicity of Native American family life to the horrible, clinical depictions of warfare.
I preferred Knight’s sections of dialogue – although I wonder if some of those people were really that eloquent – that truly read like a novel. Those sections are punctuated nicely throughout the novel and kept me moving forward. They also breathed life into people and moments of history that I have never heard about. As I suffered through some of the more horrible, violent parts, the more I realized how watered down or just plain wrong my history classes were from elementary school and even on through college. The victors get to write the history books, right? So I appreciate that Knight treats both sides equally – he doesn’t glorify or justify any of it.
Seventh grade was the last time I remember learning about the Native Americans in Texas. I recall years later hearing that most of what we learned back then was incorrect. I am embarrassed to admit that I never took the time to find out the truth. I hope that Knight has done his research better than those textbook writers.
One thing that I know for sure, Knight has captured the beauty and brutality of the time period. While the book is classified as a novel, I would describe it as a history lesson punctuated by historical fiction. There are a few long stretches of dialogue throughout and it made me wonder if Knight’s choice to write them were due to having more or less documentation on that particular scenario. At the risk of appearing even more history tome-like, I think I would have appreciated footnotes. What I especially liked in this book was the Afterword section because it tied up all the loose ends of what happened to people.
The parts that I savored were sort of day-in-a-life type snapshots: village life among the natives, cattle drives, and gearing up to be a ranger. I glossed over the carnage when I could but lingered over the few times humanity shined through.
What will really stay with me are the following questions: “What accommodation would have satisfied the white’s hunger for more land?” and “What accommodation would have allowed the Apache or any of the Plains Indians to hold onto theirs?” Forever into the future, these questions will be recast with different people or nations inserted. And unfortunately, the answer more often that not might be, “Sometimes it is better to die than to be subjugated.” [Quotes from page 206]
I have a few minor criticisms: Sectioning the novel into books and chapters was a little odd. And then there was the even odder decision to put all of the book and chapter titles in quotation marks. If it were up to me, I would have divided the novel differently so that some sections didn’t seem so sparse while others bloated.
Overall, a great read wrapped in a beautiful cover. It’s not very often that I feel like I’ve learned so much from a historical novel.
Max L. Knight was born in Panama in 1949, and was raised both in the Canal Zone and in San Antonio, Texas where he now resides with his wife, Janet “Gray.” A proud member of the Corps of Cadets and graduate of Texas A&M University (Class of ’73), he received a bachelor’s degree in English and a Regular Army commission and served the next twenty-four years as an Air Defense and Foreign Area Officer before retiring in 1997 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. After leaving the Army, Max spent the next five years working for RCI Technologies of San Antonio, becoming its Director of Internal Operations. Separating from the company in 2002, he volunteered to be the first docent at the Alamo working within its Education Department before once again serving his country as a Counterintelligence Specialist in Europe, Central America, Asia and the Middle East through 2013. Max speaks several languages including Greek and Spanish. He also holds a Master of Science degree in government from Campbell University. He has written and published two books to date: Silver Taps, a personal memoir of his relationship with his father and a tribute to his alma mater, and Palo Duro, a novel focusing on the Indian wars in the southwestern United States at the end of the nineteenth century.
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Review & Giveaway: Anahuac by William D. Darling

ANAHUAC
A Texas Story (Volume 2)
by
WILLIAM D. DARLING
  Genre: Historical Fiction / Thriller
Publisher: Canned Peas Productions
Date of Publication: October 3, 2017
Number of Pages: 244

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The Anahuac of 1972 is more than just an isolated outpost on Texas’s Trinity Bay – it’s a place where greed and justice uncomfortably intermingle, where the evangelical fervor of charismatic preachers resonate, where blacks and whites navigate a fragile co-existence, and where a murder leads to even darker mysteries than murder. 
Jim Ward, introduced in Morgan’s Point as a young, idealistic Houston prosecutor, returns in Anahuac as an older, more conflicted, more complicated man, coming to Anahuac to defend a man who appears guilty of a horrible crime. His discoveries lead to entanglements in the very nature of good and evil, in a town that is at once of its time and timeless, steeped in a history that is unexpectedly but definitively drawing Ward in its narrative web.
 

PRAISE FOR ANAHUAC: 

“Austin writer William D. Darling’s second novel, Anahuac, is an entertaining, engrossing legal thriller that offers both darkly humorous and good-natured thrusts at life, love, and law . . . first-rate reading, especially for readers who enjoy legal thrillers, lawyer procedurals, suspense, Texas settings, and characters who live large.” – Lone Star Literary Life
“Darling draws vivid portraits of his setting while also bringing in historical currents like women’s liberation, the growth of container shipping, and the rise of the prosperity gospel, adding interest to what’s otherwise a fairly simple courtroom drama.” – Kirkus Reviews
I’m a Texan originally from the east coast who’s had occasion to meet some of these characters from another planet. Darling weaves us through the minds of lawyers with jealousies, insecurities, questions of faith, honor, and guilt as they tackle the case of a horrible crime that has the potential to put a man of God away forever. I held on tight as we went through the engrossing trial, which did not disappoint! If you love history, crime, passion, religion, and suspense, this is a must read! – Kristy Recker (an Amazon reviewer)
While certainly a period piece, I’m glad that this book didn’t delve too far into Texas history because it already has so much to offer on its own. There is no point in making a masterpiece of the backdrop when the main players, the main point of the story, are so captivating and brilliant already.
I suppose the history of Anahuac leading up to the novel’s present time in the 1970s does serve as a sort of primer before Darling paints his characters with broader and more colorful strokes. Rather than telling us about racial or gender tension, he shows how that strain originated in history and how it evolved into what it was in the 70s. He does the same thing when explaining why the residents of the small town are suspicious of outsiders, even those who are also from Texas but from another town. We’ve seen that trope in movies, but it’s never really explained.
Even before the detailed choreography of the courtroom scenes, one can sense that Darling is an attorney. How? The opening scene all but tells you who murdered Sarita and the main character, Jim, is not really trying to figure out who did it. Jim’s focus is to make sure that the jury can’t say for certain that Reverend Randall Clay killed her. As he builds his case, he might briefly wonder who was really behind it, but his laser-like focus is on making sure his client is found not guilty. And Darling writes the story with this same focus and mission, to let the reader in on what is known for certain and what is hypothetical, with the intent of having us draw the most logical conclusion.
The story of the impending trial is the main thread of the novel, but there are a few other strands woven in concerning the married lives of the couples and the people in their circle that add further tension. I don’t know if those storylines added much to the novel, but I’m pretty sure they carried over from the first book. I think that if I had read Morgan’s Point, I would be more interested in the subplots.
Growing up in a Christian home in Texas, I just had to also mention my specific thoughts on Reverend Clay. I found him fascinating because he struck me as a Billy Graham at first, or maybe I just got that vibe because his medium was radio. But then I definitely likened him to Joel Osteen because of the solicitation for money and the questionable financial practices of his operation. And then he went right back to being a Billy Graham because he could actually spout scripture and theology off the top of his head without stuttering. Anyway, he was a great character and I wouldn’t mind reading about what his deal really is.
My only critiques are production things: the text could use some proofreading and the cover could be less literal and maybe scaled down a bit.
Overall, I thought this was a great read. There is not a wasted word on the page. If you skim, you miss something significant. If you like courtroom dramas, this book is definitely for you.

William D. Darling is a lifelong storyteller and very nearly a native Texan, arriving in his beloved state as an infant in 1942. His first novel, Morgan’s Point, introduced readers to both the mid-‘60s rough-and-tumble world of the Houston courts where Darling came of age, and the Galveston Bay region that has long fascinated him. His latest novel Anahuac, serves as a sequel to Morgan’s Point as well as its own fascinating tale.
Darling, who has lived within the legislative bustle of Washington, D.C. and in the beauty of a Central Texas ranch, currently resides in Austin, where he and his wife have built a longstanding law practice.
UPCOMING AUTHOR APPEARANCES:
January 12, 2018, 7:00PM

Anahuac Reading & Signing

Deep Vellum Books3000 Commerce StreetDallasTXUS 


January 20, 2018, 10:00AM

Anahuac Reading in Anahuac
William D. Darling brings it on home! He’ll read from Anahuac in the city where the new novel is set for the first time ever.
Chambers County Library202 Cummings StreetAnahuacTXUS 

February 17, 2018, 4:30PM
Anahuac Houston Release Event
William D. Darling will sign and read from Anahuac, celebrating the release of the book with friends and well-wishers in the city he once called home, as part of a multi-author event.
Murder by the Books2342 BissonnetHoustonTXUS 

 

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Review & Giveaway: Holding the Fort by Regina Jennings

HOLDING THE FORT
The Fort Reno Series, Book 1
by
REGINA JENNINGS
  Genre: Historical Western Christian Romance
Date of Publication: December 5, 2017
Number of Pages: 353

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With Miss Bell as the Teacher, Everyone’s Bound to Learn an Interesting Lesson

Dance hall singer Louisa Bell has always lived one step from destitution. When she loses her job at the Cat-Eye Saloon, she has nowhere else to go but to her brother, a cavalry soldier stationed in Indian Territory. But he’s run afoul of his commanding officer. Unsure what she can do to help him and desperate for a job, she doesn’t protest when she’s mistaken for a governess at the fort. How hard can teaching really be?


Major Daniel Adams has his hands full at Fort Reno, especially raising two adolescent daughters alone. If this new governess doesn’t work out, his mother-in-law insists she’ll raise the girls herself–far away from the fort. Miss Bell bears little resemblance to Daniel’s notion of a governess–they’re not supposed to be so blamed pretty–but he finds himself turning a blind eye to her unconventional methods. Louisa has never faced so important a performance. Can she keep her act together long enough to help her brother and to secure the respectable future she’s sought for so long?

PRAISE FOR HOLDING THE FORT & THE FORT RENO SERIES:
“The first book in Jennings’ new Fort Reno series is a delightful read that helps solidify what a wonderful and imaginative writer Jennings is. She manages to create unique stories with interesting and well-developed characters while combining humor, mystery and a sprinkle of faith.”
–RT Book Reviews

“In this character-driven series launch, Jennings offers a powerful lesson on the freedom of truth and forgiveness wrapped in a delightful story of love against the odds.”
Publishers Weekly

“This series launch is a charming historical romance set in 1880s Fort Reno, OK. . . . Jennings kicks off a new series with a light and enjoyable tale that will delight her fans as well as lovers of historical romance.”
Library Journal

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Ok, I’ll admit it. I begged to review this book because of the cover. I could tell it was a period piece based on the backdrop and wardrobe. But it was the cute blonde in a pink dress with an armful of books that sold it to me.
It wouldn’t take much more to endear this book to me, but the main character, Louisa Bell, stole my heart. Anything could have happened and I would still love this book. A strong, independent woman who taught herself to sing beautifully, be still my heart. She could have easily settled by marrying or by taking on the oldest occupation, but she didn’t. No matter the hardships she has faced, she is still kind (but not a pushover!) and holds tight to people who are important to her.
We meet pretty much every character that existed in the West during Louisa’s journey: Native Americans, cowboys (more drunk than not), farmers, shopkeepers, religious folk, children, and military men. It’s great to see how she adapts to each situation. And while she never outright lies about anything, her talent for deception (or improvisation) finds her a comfortable living situation.
Only one situation in the novel felt heavy, as it was a political one. But it gave a nice inside look at the sort of dealings that took place during this time period. The atmosphere gets tense for a bit, but you never doubt that things will work out for the best. The same could be said for the romantic storyline as well. While Louisa is hiding very big secrets from the Major, you have a feeling that things will sort themselves out.
And that’s the only critique I have of this book. I would have liked something to knock me off balance and kept me flailing around for a bit. Other than that, I admire Jennings clean writing style and descriptions. The dialogue is delivered effortlessly and the characters are interesting and believable. I look forward to reading the next installment. I hope to see more of Caroline and Daisy in the coming books.
Regina Jennings is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a minor in history. She’s the winner of the National Readers’ Choice Award, a two-time Golden Quill finalist and a finalist for the Oklahoma Book of the Year Award. Regina has worked at the Mustang News and at First Baptist Church of Mustang, along with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. She lives outside of Oklahoma City with her husband and four children.
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Review & Giveaway: Bluster’s Last Stand by Preston Lewis

BLUSTER’S LAST STAND

The Memoirs of H.H. Lomax, #4

by
PRESTON LEWIS
  Genre:  Historical Western Fiction / Humor
Date of Publication: November 15, 2017
Publisher: Wild Horse Press

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Events on the Little Bighorn might have turned out better for George Armstrong Custer had he listened to H.H. Lomax rather than trying to kill him.  To save his own skin—and scalp!—Lomax must outwit Custer and his troopers as well as face hundreds of Sioux and Cheyenne warriors swarming Last Stand Hill. 
At least that is how Lomax in his inimitable style tells the story in this humorous romp across Old West history.  Lomax’s latest misadventures take him from the Battle of Adobe Walls to Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show.  In between, he’s a bouncer in a Waco whorehouse, a prospector in the Black Hills, a bartender in a Dakota Territory saloon and a combatant in the worst defeat in the history of the frontier Army. 
Along the way, Lomax crosses paths with Bat Masterson, Buffalo Bill, Wild Bill Hickok, General Custer, his brother Tom Custer and the troopers of the Seventh Cavalry as well as hordes of Comanche, Kiowa, Sioux and Cheyenne warriors, not to mention the most dangerous adversary of all—a newspaper reporter with ambition.

Told with Lomax’s characteristic wit, Bluster’s Last Stand puts a new spin on the Little Bighorn and its aftermath.  Whether you believe him or not, you’ve got to admire Lomax’s luck and pluck in both surviving one of the darkest days in Old West history and writing about the disaster in the latest volume of The Memoirs of H.H. Lomax.
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PRAISE FOR THE H.H. LOMAX SERIES:

“A new series by Preston Lewis features a protagonist, H.H. Lomax, who isn’t much of a gunfighter, horseman or gambler.  Instead, he is a likeable loser who runs into old western celebrities like Billy the Kid and the Jesse James gang, and barely escapes.”  Wall Street Journal
“It takes a special talent to write first-person novels based on the premise of ‘lost papers,’ but Preston Lewis is an especially fresh and innovative writer and he knows how to do it.”
Rocky Mountain News
Fans of the Western as a genre will delight in Lewis’ ongoing spoof of many traditions which fiction writers from Owen Wister to Elmer Kelton captured well enough to turn into key parts of our myths and folklore….Lewis’s wit is at times Puckishly wry, at other times bawdy in the manner of Chaucer.  It is always engaging.  Texas Books in Review
Several Old West historians have blessed the Lomax books as expertly crafted fiction. Dallas Morning News

 

300b2-review
Judging this “memoir” by its cover would be as big of a mistake as judging H. H. Lomax at first impression. Without the well-written synopsis or blurb to guide you, you could mistake this book for a cheesy spoof novel based on the title and artwork. And you would probably walk by and miss out on the funniest and smartest historical fiction book that I have ever read.
Lewis manages to bring levity to a story and a part of history that was rather tragic. The West wasn’t too kind on women and it can be shocking to think of how prostitution often was a more desirable position than being a married woman. Political corruption was rampant and fed racial tensions and uncertainty for all sides involved. Journalism appeared to be a joke early on. And, of course, the treatment of the Native Americans was appalling.
But everything wasn’t so cut and dry then, and Lewis underlines that fact with the wonderfully colorful character of H. H. Lomax. Although gold is the goal, the man is a true diamond in the rough. While the man lacks culture, he certainly has enough brains to make his way without having to rely on Forrest Gump-like luck. He has had so many sudden stops and starts in his life that I was surprised to find out that he was only in his mid 20’s. For some reason, I was imagining a man in his late 30’s or 40’s. Maybe I watch too many Clint Eastwood films.
Speaking of films, when you think of a western spoof, you might think of Blazing Saddles or something similar. Well, this reimagining of events leading up to Little Bighorn is far from corny. While there is some adolescent-leveled humor (i.e., fart jokes and nicknames), Lomax’s wit is often subtle and nuanced. It usually goes undetected because it is so unexpected.
I could write about Lomax for days but then the other characters would feel left out. With the exception of the bullies, Bonner and Quirt, I think that all of the characters are so much more than they seem. We definitely get to see that with Medusa and Buffalo Bill. If Lewis wanted to, he could write spinoff novels about practically anyone in this book (if they survived to the end) and they would be great reads. In particular, I would find it fascinating to read about the people who went against their culture’s grain, like the minister or Crazy Horse.
The pacing felt a little slow at times. About halfway through the book, Lomax is still working in Medusa’s whorehouse and I’m trying to figure out when Custer and the battle come into play. But looking back, the pace was perfect. The battle was short, so even a detailed account shouldn’t run up half a novel. If it did, I would have fallen asleep. Also, I think my favorite parts of the book were when Lomax worked in the whorehouse. I don’t think any men less than Lomax or Lewis could ever drag that sort of sentiment from me.
Even if you don’t care much for history, I think you will find this book entertaining. Lomax’s hilarity and heart of gold (see what I did there?) soften the blow of the harsh realities in this part of history, and make them interesting. Or if you want to set the humor aside, there are some provoking thoughts on morality and perception that might stir you up. I look forward to reading more about Lomax’s adventures.
            Preston Lewis is the Spur Award-winning author of 30 western, juvenile and historical novels, including Bluster’s Last Stand published by Wild Horse Press.   
            Bluster’s Last Stand, a novel about Custer and the Battle of Little Bighorn, is the latest volume in Lewis’s well-received Memoirs of H.H. Lomax series of comic westerns that began with The Demise of Billy the Kid.  Subsequent books in the series—The Redemption of Jesse James and Mix-Up at the O.K. Corral—were both Spur Finalists from Western Writers of America (WWA). 
            Lewis’s historical novel Blood of Texas on the Texas Revolution received WWA’s Spur Award for Best Western Novel.  His western caper The Fleecing of Fort Griffin in 2017 earned him his third Elmer Kelton Award from the West Texas Historical Association (WTHA) for best creative work on West Texas. 
            His True West article on the Battle of Yellowhouse Canyon won a Spur Award for Best Nonfiction Article.  In addition to True West, his short works have appeared in publications as varied as Louis L’Amour Western Magazine, Persimmon Hill, Dallas Morning News, The Roundup, Journal of the Wild West History Association and San Angelo Standard-Times
         A native West Texan and current San Angelo resident, Lewis holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Baylor University and master’s degrees from Ohio State in journalism and Angelo State in history.  He is a past president of WWA and WTHA.  Lewis is a longstanding member of the Authors Guild and an associate member of the Dramatists Guild of America.  
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Promo & Giveaway: Cowboy, It’s Cold Outside by Lori Wilde


COWBOY, 
IT’S COLD OUTSIDE

A Twilight, Texas Novel

by
LORI WILDE
  Genre:  Contemporary Holiday Romance
Date of Publication: October 27, 2017
Publisher: Avon 
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Number of Pages: 400

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New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Lori Wilde’s Twilight, TX Christmas novels are beloved for their emotional depth and ability to capture the sweetness of the holiday season. In her latest Twilight, Texas novel, COWBOY, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE, the holiday season is once again full of romance and surprises.
Everyone in town knows that Christmas in Twilight has a way of bringing lovers together . . . but will its magic bring this pair from “I won’t” to “I do?”
Wearing a too-tight “Santa Baby” costume held in by a double pair of Spanx, Paige MacGregor runs headlong into a gorgeous, grey-eyed hunk of a long, tall cowboy. And not just any cowboy, but country-western star Cash Colton, visiting Twilight to perform in a charity concert. Most women would melt at his feet, but Paige knows all-too-much about self-assured men with cocky attitudes, so she tells him to get lost.
Cash is in town, nursing his own broken heart, but Paige has knocked him off his feet. He’s convinced she’s perfect—someone to inspire his music and share his now-empty bed. True, he’s not marriage material, but he’s determined to convince her that they’re perfect together—at least for a while. But what he doesn’t count on is falling in love with the one woman who isn’t about to give him the time of day!

 

“When it comes to striking exactly the right balance between sweet and sexy, Wilde has the equivalent of perfect pitch.” — Booklist 

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A fifth generation Texan, Lori Wilde is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of 82 works of fiction. She’s a three-time nominee of the Romance Writers of America prestigious RITA award and has won numerous other awards. She holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Texas Christian University, and a certificate in forensics. She is also a certified Hatha yoga instructor, and runs a yoga/creativity retreat for artists at Epiphany Orchards in Weatherford, Texas, the Cutting Horse Capital of the World.
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Review & Giveaway: Up Near Dallas by Gina Hooten Popp

UP NEAR DALLAS

Winds of Change — Book III

by
GINA HOOTEN POPP
  Genre:  Texas Historical Fiction / Romance
Date of Publication: November 12, 2017
Number of Pages: 307

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The year is 1934. Economic turbulence rocks the country. And record drought dries up crops, along with the spirits of every farmer south of the Mason-Dixon. Yet for sixteen-year-old Mick McLaren, life is good as he takes to the open road to chase his dream of being a musician. Riding boxcars, hitchhiking, walking and driving his way across Depression Era Texas, he finds not only himself, but the love of a girl from Dallas named Margaret. Along the way, they befriend Cowboy Larson, a Delta Blues guitarist. Together the three teens, from three very different worlds, come-of-age as their life-changing journey carries them through killer dust storms, extreme poverty, and the unprecedented gangster activity of the Dirty Thirties. 


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300b2-review

 

Where to begin? I love everything about this book. I usually dislike books that rotate point of views because authors often don’t differentiate between the character voices. Or even something as basic as too similar character names often makes things confusing. This is not the case with Popp’s book. Each character is different and developed, and most importantly, interesting and believable.

 

I don’t know if it is because of the time period, but every person in this book is strong in their own way. Doctor Lyles takes the Socratic Oath very seriously and stands his ground against those who question his loyalty. Lucky McLaren has the most obvious strength, having fought in a war and his power and success in business. Mick and Cowboy seem to still be growing into their strengths, while the women in the story have an understated strength that I find inspiring. Margaret and Saint are foils, but both young ladies know what they want and work hard for it. Mick’s mother was a pleasant surprise to behold and as I’ve said before on another review, the infamous Bonnie intrigues me.

 

I really hate to give away too much about this book, but everything in it just works for me. I love the idea of a kid who has everything and is willing to throw it all away to follow his dreams. And while the Great Depression is hardly an idyllic backdrop for self discovery and reinvention, it’s nice that the rich kid sees what it’s like to live on the other side of the tracks and helps others less fortunate when he can. And it’s great to see pure, innocent love that is not tainted by material possessions or social statuses.

 

I know I’ve mentioned the strong ladies already, but I feel like Nana Michelle deserves a paragraph of her own. The woman is a wonderful, walking contradiction. So much strength while physically frail. She stands on uppity traditions like hot English tea despite the heat of the South, but will let barn animals into her fancy home during a crisis. She was a dutiful doctor’s wife but took it upon herself to learn to do medical procedures as well. Sweet and shrewd. I hope to be as interesting as her one day.

 

I know that Margaret is only 15, with Mick, Cowboy, and Saint all around there somewhere in age too, so I can’t help but be amazed at the things they accomplish. Fifteen-year-olds nowadays are practically infantile. They usually don’t make level-headed decisions in the face of danger. They don’t often know what they want to do with their lives, nor do they have the discipline to work independently toward achieving their goals. And the big one for me, they don’t usually know the difference between infatuation and true love. People in the past were made of tougher stuff, so maybe they see things more clearly than we do, and sooner.

 

Maybe I morbidly romanticize this time in history, but I’m a big fan of the ingenuity and pulling up of one’s bootstraps that Depression survivors do. Up Near Dallas is a great piece of historical fiction and I plan to read the other installments. I also plan to hunt down some music from the time period because my interest has certainly been piqued.

 

 

A native Texan, Gina Hooten Popp was born in Greenville and now lives in Dallas with her husband and son. Along with writing novels, Gina has enjoyed a long career as a professional writer in advertising. Her debut novel THE STORM AFTER was a finalist in the 2014 RONE Awards, and her just-released book CHICO BOY: A NOVEL was a 2016 Medalist Winner in the New Apple Annual Book Awards. Recently, her novel LUCKY’S WAY, about a young fighter pilot from Houston, was endorsed by the United States World War One Centennial Commission. 


————————————-
GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!
December 5-December 13, 2017
(U.S. Only)
VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

12/4/17
Guest Post
12/5/17
Review
12/6/17
Excerpt
12/7/17
Playlist
12/8/17
Review
12/9/17
Notable Quotable
12/10/17
Excerpt
12/11/17
Review
12/12/17
Author Interview
12/13/17
Review
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Promo & Giveaway: Christmas in a Cowboy’s Arms

CHRISTMAS 
IN A COWBOY’S ARMS
with stories by
ROSANNE BITTNER, LINDA BRODAY, MARGARET BROWNLEY, 
LEIGH GREENWOOD, ANNA SCHMIDT, AMY SANDAS
  Genre: Romance Anthology / Western / Historical
Date of Publication: October 3, 2017
Number of Pages: 512

Scroll down for the giveaway!

The Beating Heart of Christmas
In the wild and untamed West, it takes a cowboy’s embrace to see you through a long winter’s night. Stay toasty this holiday season with heart-warming tales from these bestselling authors.
Whether it’s a lonely spinster finding passion at last…an infamous outlaw-turned-lawman reaffirming the love that keeps him whole…a lost and broken drifter discovering family in unlikely places…a Texas Ranger risking it all for one remarkable woman…two lovers bringing together a family ripped apart by prejudice…or reunited lovers given a second chance to correct past mistakes…a Christmas spent in a cowboy’s arms is full of hope, laughter, and―most of all―love.
*Chick-a-Dee Christmas by Rosanne Bittner * The Christmas Stranger by Linda Broday * A Texas Ranger for Christmas by Margaret Brownley * Father Christmas by Leigh Greenwood * A Christmas Baby by Anna Schmidt * A Christmas Reunion by Amy Sandas*

PRAISE FOR CHRISTMAS IN A COWBOY’S ARMS: 
“An emotional powerhouse! This classic historical western is destined for the “keeper” shelf.” RT Book Reviews, Top Pick for Rosanne Bittner

“Fun and sensual…great for fans of history, romance, and some good old Texas grit.” Kirkus for Linda Broday

“A great story by a wonderful author.” ― #1 New York Times bestselling author DEBBIE MACOMBER for Margaret Brownley

“Greenwood is a master at westerns.” RT Book Reviews for Leigh Greenwood

“The perfect read.” RT Book Reviews for Anna Schmidt

“A genuine page-turner…electric and absorbing.” Kirkus for Amy Sandas
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author story spotlight

ANNA SCHMIDT, AUTHOR OF A CHRISTMAS BABY

Included in Christmas in a Cowboy’s Arms Anthology

About A Christmas Baby:

Rico and Louisa come from different worlds. Can their love survive once her family disowns her and can they find peace and reunion through the message of Christmas—and an innocent child?


INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR ANNA SCHMIDT


Where did your love of books and reading come from? Mostly my mother who had a seventh-grade education but was an avid reader and one of the smartest people I knew. Both parents put a LOT of focus on the importance of reading—books were always part of our Christmas “loot.”


How does your book relate to your faith? My faith is all about diversity and inclusion—it is no accident that the world is populated by so many different cultures and ethnicities. The key is to find ways to respect, appreciate and engage!!!


How has your formal education influenced or impacted your writing? My studies in both history and theater have greatly impacted my writing. When I write, I see the characters on a stage or movie screen—they walk and talk like characters on stage and I am always aware of who else is “in the scene.”


What do your plans for future projects include? This story weaves in with my LAST CHANCE COWBOYS series. Book 3, THE OUTLAW is available now and the final book –THE RANCHER—will be available in early 2018. Rico and Louisa as well as other characters from this story are all part of those novels.


Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before? Scandinavia—I just had my DNA done and discovered I am 20% Scandinavian!!


What cultural value do you see in books and storytelling? The written word is a gift—stories are gifts that can allow a child to define who he or she truly is. They can also provide a refuge from the troubled times and hope for a better tomorrow.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anna Schmidt is a three-time finalist for the coveted RITA award presented annually by Romance Writers of America. In addition, she has been a four-time finalist for the Reviewer’s Choice Award from Romantic Times magazine—an award she has won twice.


The author of over thirty works of historical and contemporary fiction, Anna has worked in the corporate world for two international companies, taught at the college level, and is a popular presenter of hands-on workshops. She splits her time between Wisconsin and Florida, noting that, “I am blessed to have a career that travels well!”




Rosanne Bittner

Website * Facebook 

Twitter * Goodreads



Linda Broday

Website * Facebook 

Twitter * Goodreads

Margaret Brownley

Website * Facebook 

Twitter * Goodreads



Anna Schmidt

Website * Pinterest 

Twitter Goodreads


Amy Sandas

Website * Facebook 

Twitter * Goodreads

Leigh Greenwood

Website * Goodreads

————————————-
GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!
December 1-December 10, 2017
Four Winners will each get a prize pack which includes Christmas in a Cowboy’s Arms + another book(s) by one of the authors.  Three of the packs will also include a $10 Amazon Gift Card.
(U.S. Only)
VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

12/1/17
Christmas Memories
12/2/17
Review
12/3/17
Spotlight on Amy
12/4/17
Review
12/5/17
Spotlight on Anna
12/6/17
Spotlight on Linda
12/7/17
Review
12/8/17
Spotlight on Margaret
12/9/17
Spotlight on Rosanne
12/10/17
Review
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