Category Archives: Romance

My review of West of the Pecos by Zane Grey

As some of you know, I have a blog dedicated to Zane Grey. He published action romance novels in the early 1900’s.

West of the Pecos; New York, The American Magazine, 1931


Illustrated by Frank Hoffman

West of the Pecos

was first published as a 7-episode serial in The American Magazine from August of 1931 to February of 1932. In 1937 Harper & Brothers published the story as an action romance. The Zane Grey’s Western Magazine published West of the Pecos in 1947 and again in 1954. The main characters are Pecos Smith and Terrill (Rill) Lambeth with Sambo as supporting character. As usual, nature plays an important role displaying Pecos River, Horsehead Crossing and Langtry around 1865-1871 (ZGWS). A free copy is available in Roy Glashan‘s library.

“When Templeton Lambeth’s wife informed him that if God was good they might in due time expect the heir he had so passionately longed for, he grasped at this with the joy of a man whose fortunes were failing, and who believed that a son might revive his once cherished dream of a new and adventurous life on the wild Texas ranges west of the Pecos River.

That very momentous day he named the expected boy Terrill Lambeth, for a beloved brother. Their father had bequeathed to each a plantation; one in Louisiana, and the other in eastern Texas. Terrill had done well with his talents, while Templeton had failed.

The baby came and it was a girl. This disappointment was the second of Lambeth’s life, and the greater. Lambeth never reconciled himself to what he considered a scurvy trick of fate. He decided to regard the child as he would a son, and to bring her up accordingly. He never changed the name Terrill. And though he could not help loving Terrill as a daughter, he exulted in her tomboy tendencies and her apparently natural preferences for the rougher and more virile pleasures and occupations. Of these he took full advantage.”

Zane Grey was known for thorough research for his stories and appropriately portrayed characters according to each storyline’s class, gender and color. In West of the Pecos we find ourselves in Texas before and after the war between Southern and Northern states. Texas never experienced the major invasions that other Southern states did. Shortages of essentials like food, medication and paper was extensive because essentials went to the army. To support the war, new property-, poll-, income- and distilling taxes were imposed. Refugees started arriving and wounded men returned. Crime rose and sometimes these were answered with lynchings. Since most white men, like Lambeth, joined the army, women took over the running of most facets of life. Many cotton plantations were not as affected as other industries (TSLAC). However, the Lambeth women experienced hardship, and their slaves probably felt the increasing lack of ready income the most. When the war ended, Lambeth returned a widower with a fifteen year old daughter (Rill) to provide for and a plantation he no longer wants to run.

West of the Pecos is about gender differences, how Texans viewed African-Americans, crime as a consequence of the war, poverty and not giving up. It’s probably one of my favourite Zane Grey action romances. The action is excellent. As usual nature plays a vital part……………………………….

The rest of the review is on

Bell, Odette C. The Betrothed & Shattered Destiny. 2015

“Life, in all its imperfect variation, was nothing compared to the scale of nothingness that made up most of the known universe.”

Shattered Destiny (loc 19537)

Cheek, Kater; Parasitic Souls (2016)

Cover art by: Fiona Jayde Media and Kater Cheek
Cover art by: Fiona Jayde Media and Kater Cheek

About five years before the beginning of Parasitic Souls, the Earth experienced a magic apocalypse. As a result of the apocalypse, some people became magical. The strangest form of magic is SL (spontaneous lycanthropy), in this case to coyote . More common is magical talent. Those who had practiced magic before the apocalypse, like brujas/brujos and witches/wizards, had a head-start. The magically talented are able to use their energy to set wards, make charms or influence people. Scientists study magic in hopes of understanding its underlying principles.

One of the magics discovered is a fountain of youth. Not a particularly ethical magic, but one that might potentially earn the inventor loads of money. Many people would be willing to use this highly questionable form of magic and pay almost anything. However, before this fountain of youth could be sold to the wealthy and unscrupulous, it needs testing. Which is how we meet Lenny.

The apartment was dark except for the streetlight shining rudely through the curtains. Since she had a raging thirst and an urgent need to pee, Fiona got up. She managed to find the bathroom without shinning herself too badly on the birch Ektorp coffee table, and she only had to open four cabinets before finding a cup to drink out of. As she was downing her third glass of water, she heard a non-human voice creak at her through the kitchen window.

“Let me in!”

She dropped the glass on the floor. It bounced and rolled under the table, spilling water everywhere.

Fiona gets called to Clementine, California, by her step-mom’s assistant, Sophie. Fiona’s step-mom, Carlotta, had done a disappearing act. There was little the two girls could do to find her, except wait and hoped that the only thing wrong is a severe hangover. Turns out, Carlotta’s problem is a bit more serious. In fact, her whole demeanor changed from warm and kind to cold and mean. At least towards Fiona and Sophie. Something is up, and the two of them know it has to be bad.

Fiona is 24-years old and born to a messed up mother and father. One of her father’s marriages had been to Carlotta. Carlotta was everything Fiona needed, and she was there for Fiona even after she divorced Fiona’s father. So Fiona has reason to expect Carlotta to, at least, let her sleep on the couch. Instead, Fiona has to shack up with Sophie.

Sophie is 18-years old and the adopted child of adoring and overprotective parents. Because Carlotta is related to her mother, Sophie was able to move to Clementine and apprentice with Carlotta. Up until the personality change, Carlotta had treated Sophie kindly. Now neither Fiona or Sophie has a job, and they certainly have no idea what to do about Carlotta. Should they go back or stay and try to fix things?

Parasitic Souls would be a terrible, and probably realistic, story if they chose to give up. However, the two do not. Things happen, and through them we meet Marcello and Xavier. Marcello teaches magic theory at Clementine Preparatory Academy for Magic and Technology. Xavier is apprenticed to his grandmother, the bruja, Luna. Luna is a woman you do not want as an enemy. The two men are in their early twenties and both of them are interested in the two women. So. Some romance.

Parasitic Souls is a Young Adult story with three types of stories in it. Coming-of-age, romance and “what if”. There is plenty of action, some of it rather unusual. Kater Cheek also manages to thrown in her odd, but cool, sense of humor. I liked it and recommend Parasitic Souls.

Parasitic Souls is available at Smashwords

Kater Cheek gave me a copy of Parasitic Souls in exchange for a review

Roberts, Richard: The Doll House (1): Inventory and Price List (2011)

The Doll House by Richard Roberts

Ray has signed, in blood, a spell for knowledge. When he falls asleep, he finds himself dreaming of a house, The Dollhouse. Entering the Dollhouse is akin to playing with fire. Except Ray didn’t think anything would happen when he signed in blood a spell for seeking knowledge. Oh, dear, once again we learn that all actions have consequences.

Ray is fortunate in a couple of respects. He soon realizes that his dream is very real and sets out to understand what he is dealing with. Seven women with innocuous names but with personalities and abilities that ought to frighten a wise man.

Make no demands once you enter the Dollhouse, and try your best to not offend, and you may just make it out alive.

I had fun reading The Dollhouse: Inventory. Definitely recommended.

Review: Laurie

The Doll House: Inventory available at Booklikes


Bunn, Christopher: The Girl Next Door (2012)

“What do you do?” she asked.

“Well, it’s funny that you should ask. I do a little proofreading, sort of a family thing. My father did it before me, so I decided to carry on the tradition. Editing. Marking up manuscripts with red pen. Hence all the books.”

“I just had a marvelous thought. You can proofread my book.”

“Hang on,” he said, startled, “I wouldn’t want to presume on your acquaintance.”

“Don’t think of it,” she said. “I’m not at all offended by your asking.”

“Not at all offended …?” stuttered Peter.

Christopher Bunn

Lyon, J.J.: Truth is Relative (A Truth Inducer Mystery) (2014)

Artist: Caitlin Willey
Artist: Caitlin Willey

The Monday before Thanksgiving, my car disappeared. Or it might have been late Sunday night. The day was half over before I even looked outside. Instead I focused on an ugly painting until I realized I was hungry. I was out of bread and low on groceries in general. I cleaned my brushes, grabbed my keys, opened the front door, and stared at gray asphalt where my Mazda used to be. A few dead cottonwood leaves swirled there before the wind swept them off.

I didn’t bother calling the police. My car hadn’t been stolen, it had been repossessed.

Anthony has had a rough time during the year after his gift/curse emerged. All it takes is thirty seconds within a ten-foot circumference of him and people cannot help telling him their secrets. Just going to the store is a challenge. And the things he hears. “My wife left me this morning.”, “And then their dad comes home and he needs dinner and he wants sex.”, “I knew it was you and I don’t want to talk to you, but it looked bad.” and “So how did a totally hot man get a gift like that?“. Some of the secrets are much worse than this, and they are part of the trouble Anthony is in and is going to land himself in.

I liked the way J.J. Lyon looked at Anthony’s talent. One of my talents is having no filter on what I hear. Concentrating on my conversation while others are going on around me is extraordinarily difficult. I usually end up commenting on other conversations, or my companions tell me to stop listening in. Sadly, there isn’t an off-button on my talent. That can make talking to me annoying. I just upped my difficulty to the nth degree and probably arrived at Tony’s challenges. So, I truly get why he has made himself a hermit, does not want to visit his family and avoids any close contact with other people if he is able to. However, doing so has gotten him as close to bankrupt as a person could get.

He needs to come up with some way of getting hold of money and using his gift for other things than hitting on girls. His older brother Bart comes up with what he considers a really smart scheme. Why doesn’t Anthony become a PI? Yes, a PI. At first Tony is reluctant. But once he realizes what is really going on, his’s involvement becomes truer.



Truth is Relative is available at Amazon

McLeod, Suzanne: The Shifting Price of Prey ( IV) (2012)

The Shifting Price of Prey is the fourth book in the story of Genvieve Nataliya Zakharinova Taylor, her past, her present and her potential future. You definitely need to have read the previous three novels to get the most out of The Shifting Price of Prey.

As you might have noticed in my previous reviews of the serial, I have used art from various sources to represent the creatures/people in Suzanne McLeod’s stories. I have tried to stay true to the characters she describes, but the only one I am certain of is Ricou. Ricou loves putting on the glamour of Jonny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow. Good choice Ricou. There is just something about Jack Sparrow as presented by Jonny Depp that leaves a lot of women (including myself) wanting to stare. I love the choice McLeod made there.

Ricou and Sylvia are incredibly cute together. The Bitter Seed of Magic showed us the extent of their love across the boundaries of race. Their mothers aren’t pleased with Sylvia and Ricou choosing each other. In The Shifting Price of Prey these same two mothers are still conniving to get their way with Genvieve. One of the many things I love about fantasy and science fiction is the way real life issues are brought to light in a manner that makes me think. Perhaps taking issues into the land of imagination make them clearer and easier to understand for me. Because I find it terribly confusing to try to understand why something like color should make us hate each other and not want our children to love each other. It’s just really weird and illogical in my mind.

Another thing I really enjoy about reading Suzanne McLeod’s story of Genny and her friends is the way she shows us the silly excuses we use in our lives to justify what we do. Take Finn. He drops in from taking care of his daughter. In The Bitter Seed of Magic it is highly likely that Nicky had been raped into pregnancy. Finn and she went off into Between with the other girls who had become pregnant so the babies and the women would be safe. That is completely understandable and Genny agrees wholly with what he does. But Finn is incredibly stupid when it comes to one thing in his life and this time (again) he uses the dumbest excuse to rationalize his actions. I love the way McLeod reveals the issue to us and also my own reaction when I hear his excuse. I cannot help feeling sorry for Finn with his blind side. I also cannot help but wonder what my own blind sides are.

I have met people like Mr. Lampy. Shudder. Genny’s reaction is something I identify with. Mr. Lampy’s creep factor is way out there and as we read through The Shifting Price of Prey it keeps on rocketing. Which is why I absolutely loved Cat-Girl’s question and Genny’s answer at one point. Way to go both of them!

Tarot cards are something I know nothing about, except for what I have seen in movies or read about in fictional works. After reading about the ones in The Shifting Price of Prey I am no closer to becoming a fan of them. If there is one thing that is certain in Genvieve’s life it has to be that nothing comes to her the simple and easy way. Oh, no! Suzanne McLeod has to make her fight for every little answer. As a reader I love, it but I tend to feel sorry for the poor characters who have to suffer the author’s pen.

Anyways! I had fun with The Shifting Price of Prey. Suzanne McLeod met my expectations completely and I certainly look forward to reading the next installment of this serial.


The Shifting Price of Prey on, Kindle, Book Depository, Waterstones

My review of:

  1. The Sweet Scent of Blood
  2. The Cold Kiss of Death
  3. The Bitter Seed of Magic

Carnival Fantastique is based on the Carnival in Trinidad