book reviews

3 More Great Westerns–1 Indie, 2 not

If you like thrillers but can’t quite get behind the world-ending apocalyptic plot points–would like something a little more down-to-earth–you very well may like westerns. I do and thankfully, NetGalley is happy to feed my addiction with free books. Here are the last three I read:

  1. TumbleStar — guns, ranches, stagecoaches, and future love–what could be better
  2. Bloody Trail of the Mountain Man — Smoke Jensen again saves lives while standing up for the underdog
  3. Massacre at Crow Creek Crossing — doing what’s right sometimes ends up a lot of trouble
–a note about my reviews: I only review books I enjoyed. I need to be inspired to write. That’s why so many of my reviews are 4/5 or 5/5


by Sandra Cox


In Sandra Cox’s latest romantic Western, TumbleStar (2019),  Coop Malloy agrees to take his niece Kallie to live on his ranch when her parents die. Accompanying her on the long stagecoach is a childhood friend of Coop’s, Rand, but she is no longer the child he remembers, always underfoot when Coop and her brother were playing. She’s a fully blossomed woman which has Coop re-evaluating his opinions of her. When he finds out she too has nowhere to go, he invites her also to live on his ranch. Even before they start for home, Coop kills a man who is beating a burly blacksmith to death for something that didn’t deserve the death penalty. Though it was self-defense, his brothers don’t see it that way and Coop also takes the blacksmith to his ranch. That’s when the trouble starts with the dead man’s determined to avenge their brother regardless of his part in his own death Protecting his niece and childhood friend while fighting off these would-be killers turns more complicated than Coop had expected.

I love Westerns but even knowing that, this book wrapped me in its magic almost immediately, each page more compelling. Here are a few examples;

“The youth’s thin shoulders went back and his chin came up. Defiance and concern for his mother battled on his features. His body quivered with tension. Silence stretched between them. Concern won out. He gave a clipped nod.”

“The Indians don’t want us because of our white blood and the whites don’t want us because of my Indian blood and her association with them.” The boy’s forehead wrinkled and his eyebrows arched, bewilderment shown in his eyes. “Maybe I’m colorblind.”

If you’ve read Cox’s other Westerns, you will love this. If this is your first of her collection, be prepared to purchase the rest.

Bloody Trail of the Mountain Man

by William Johnstone and J.A. Johnstone
In the Johnstone’s Bloody Trail of the Mountain Man, Smoke Jensen, renowned for his gun, his morals, his loyalty to friends, and–for those who know him best–his reputation as the last mountain man, decides to help his friend Monte, also Sheriff of Smoke’s hometown, in his effort to run for US Senate from Colorado. Monte is a long shot but an honest man unlike the man he’s running against and something that is sorely needed in Colorado politics. Smoke sees him as the right person for this job and worthy of whatever support he can muster. As he starts on his campaign, Monte takes a personal interest in a young man who made a mistake that almost landed him in prison. Monte sees himself in the young man, and realizes if Smoke hadn’t given him a second chance, Monte would never have become the law-abiding, moral man he is. He wants to do the same thing for this boy. What should be two simple jobs–offering to become a state-level public servant and helping a boy in need–becomes more than complicated; it becomes deadly.
As usual, the Johnstone’s have an exemplary way of blending characters and plot, picking just the right actions to keep the plot exciting and moving. I’ve read almost every book in this series and will continue to do so. If you like Westerns, you don’t want to miss this author.
–received free from NetGalley in return for an honest review

Massacre at Crow Creek Crossing

by Charles West


In Charles West’s Massacre at Crow Creek Crossing (Pinnacle 2019), Cole Bonner is a simple mountain man trying to escape a painful past by losing himself in the ethereal beauty of the Rockies. He is honest, hardworking, and pretty much does the right thing even when it’s hard to do. Which is how he ends up rescuing a woman who was killed by two outlaw brothers after they killed her husband. Bonner manages to kill one of the brothers but the other escapes. He teams up with a third brother and they make it their life’s goal to kill the man who killed their brother.

Mountain men are uniquely American. They’re rough people who lived a hard life in the mountains before the West was even close to settled, before any sort of organized law arrived. They are a part of history that’s gone but the type of people they were explains a lot about the maverick attitude of Americans. While I’m way too weak to do what they do I sure enjoy reading their stories.

–received free from NetGalley in return for an honest review 

#westerns #amreading

More Westerns

Great Westerns from Authors New to Me

6 Westerns by One of the Greats

4 Great Western Reads from NetGalley

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Against All Odds, Winter 2020. You can find her tech ed books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning

37 thoughts on “3 More Great Westerns–1 Indie, 2 not

  1. Pingback: Gwen Slade Bounty Hunter–another winner for Sandra Cox | WordDreams...

  2. I didn’t know you like westerns, Jacqui, although now that I think about it, it makes perfect sense. Like the prehistoric books you write, the focus is on survival in a time that required tough characters. Nice reviews. Btw, my favorite mountain man in Jim Bridger. : )

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I read a book recently with a character called Coop, I quite like the name. Very concise reviews for these, all of which sound excellent given the glowing five stars you’ve awarded them. My father likes his westerns so I’ll bookmark this as I intend on picking up another book or two for him for Christmas (he’s insanely difficult to buy for so books are always a good option 😉).
    Caz xx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Jacqui – great to read the review of Sandra’s book … some people just love Westerns – and they’re entertaining reads – thanks for these recommendations – cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I think you’re right about this. It’s a good insight:

    “Mountain men are uniquely American. They’re rough people who lived a hard life in the mountains before the West was even close to settled, before any sort of organized law arrived. They are a part of history that’s gone but the type of people they were explains a lot about the maverick attitude of Americans.”

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have a soft spot for books about people who don’t fit, especially from times gone by, and Sandra Cox’s hit that spot square on. The title of Massacre at crow creek crossing has a nice ring, but I’m not sure – from your review – if it’s something I’d enjoy.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. My Dad used to like reading Westerns. I’m not sure how popular they are here. I don’t think I’ve ever read any but I used to like the Western TV shows and movies back last century. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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