Summer Shoot ‘em Ups

Posted June 26, 2016 by Sophia Rose in Reviews / 8 Comments

Once in a while, I need to stray a little further into the Western Fiction spectrum than main stream historical western romances will take me.  I want my romance, but I want the focus to be on a larger plot thread that is western to the core.  These are not hard to find if one goes looking.

I’ve tried a book by Christopher Kenworthy before and found that his balance of tough, gritty, authentic western fiction with a strong dash of romance really worked when I got in the mood for a ‘shoot ‘em up’.  So, when I got the opportunity, I snagged a couple more of his.  They aren’t part of a series, but they are connected by setting and time period.

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Summer Shoot ‘em Ups
Fighting Chance

One StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

Genres: Historical Romance, Western Romance
Published by Pioneering Press
Released on January 1, 2016
Pages: 131
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher

Get it at: add to goodreads

Sometimes it’s more interesting to follow the story of the outlaws than the posse following them.  And I do mean hard, cold, morally wrong outlaws and not the bad boys with a heart of gold types.  The story opens with the four Driscoll brothers shooting their way out of town after a bank robbery goes belly up.  A posse is on their tail and is still there days later.

Soon, they encounter a party of travelers and have thoughts of helping themselves to the horses, food, and women, but this group are a bit too savvy and hard-eyed so they change plans and join the group headed south toward the Painted Desert.

The now enlarged party encounters trouble and make it into a town with the help of an old time tracker, Obadiah Peabody.

It doesn’t take long and the brothers get on the wrong side of honest folk and this time they are backed into a corner.  They grab a few women hostages, but make a deadly mistake when one is Obadiah’s adopted granddaughter and the love interest of the local gunsmith and another is the daughter of the trail leader for the group they just came in with.  Fleeing into the desert and taking their chances against the wilds and the native tribes is their best bet.  Hard men are on their trail.

Alright, so this one was fairly straight forward until the trail party hits the town down on the desert.  Then lots of plot threads enter in.  I wasn’t confused, but the story did lose a bit of its tightness bringing backgrounds to all the new players and transitioning them into the story.

This one ended up with a larger cast of characters that were interesting types in and of themselves.  As I said earlier, the outlaws seemed to be the focus and I was curious about them and how they interacted together and with other people.  I won’t say I was sympathetic to any of them, but it was interesting to get to know how they ticked.

On the side of right was another colorful group who took over the story for the second half: The savvy old man tracker.  The strong and tough trail guide.  The young yet capable and cunning gunsmith and the determined spirited young woman who had his love.  They were an interesting mix of frontier types.

I appreciated the humorous and sweet epilogue chapter at the end that wrapped things up and took it a bit forward to see where everyone ended up.

All in all, it was exciting and I enjoyed the adventure even when it went a few different directions.  Intriguing choices for focus with the outlaws getting a strong portion of the narration.  Well worth the read.

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Summer Shoot ‘em Ups
No Surrender

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Published by Pioneering Press
Released on January 28, 2016
Pages: 151

Get it at: add to goodreads

Sometimes you just know you’ve landed in good hands right from the first five pages.  Western stories are tricky these days and it’s tough on a reader who just wants the old-style real deal.  Nothing flashy or fancy cluttering up the pages.  Just a gritty, raw, tough hero survivor who wins against the odds and saves the ranch and the girl.  And boy howdy, did this book deliver on all counts.

The story opens on an ambush murder of Francisco Villa a local ranch owner.  Mort Tolliver has his eyes on the big prize and Villa stood in his way simple as that.  But what isn’t simple is when a tall stranger rides into town and puts Tolliver and his men on notice that things aren’t going to be easy if Tolliver wants his big business empire.

Barn Milburn didn’t arrive in time to prevent his best friend’s murder, but he doesn’t have time to grieve because now Francisco’s widow, Laura, Barn’s long time secret love, is still in trouble for resisting Tolliver’s threats and attack and determining to hold the ranch.  Tolliver hires expensive guns, but he doesn’t fully understand the caliber of man he has aroused when he unleashes his pack of coyote’s on Barn Milburn and the rest of the Villa outfit.

Alright, this was a pretty straight forward story about a greedy, brutal man on one side and a quiet justice-seeking man on the other.  But for all its simplicity, the author took the time to paint an in depth portrait of the old southwest and got the characters who live there just right.  The story encompasses all who make the territory home from the Apaches, the Mexicans, the whites, the ex-war fighters, townsfolk, drifters, cowboys, vaqueros, solid frontier women.  All there and depicted well.

The setting is described in poetic language as is the yearning and dreams of Barn and a few others.  The narration is shared by a handful with Barn and Tolliver getting the majority, but others taking their turn and filling in the story.  The action and transitions were paced well.  I might have wanted an epilogue after that ending, but for the most part, this was a satisfying quick read.

Those who enjoy old-style western storytelling should definitely give this book a look.

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.

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  • These sound perfect for getting in the mood to see the new Magnificent 7 movie. I’m liking the sounds of No Surrender.

    • Oh yes, definitely Velvet. No Surrender was my favorite of these two. I read another by him and really loved it.

  • I’m not a big fan of westerns or historicals but I know a lot of people are.

    • Definitely an acquired taste and there are plenty of genre types that I don’t care for so I understand.

  • It has been a spell since I have read straight up shoot em’ westerns. It sounds like you had a good time!

  • I don’t think I have ever read a western romance, I have seen a few movies with a bit of a western feel, but that’s it. I agree that sometimes following the actual outlaws is more interesting than the posse. It can be interesting to get a view into their lives and story. Too bad it losses a bit of the tightness in the story, but it sounds like a good read besides that.

    I love that feeling when you start a book and know you have a good one. It sounds impressive how the author managed to paint the setting and characters right even with the simpler story. Great reviews!

    • These stories do remind me of Old Western movies, for sure. I love them. I grew up reading Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour so once in a while I get a craving for a western.

      Oh yes, it was nice getting that feeling right away that I was going to enjoy the story.