Historical Fiction Book Review: Fort Douglas by Nancy Foshee

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Fort DouglasSalt Lake City, Utah 1895 is the setting for Fort Douglas by Nancy Foshee. It opens with the death of a prostitute, but quickly moves to the arrival in Salt Lake of Abigail Randolph, daughter of Colonel Randolph, the man in charge of Fort Douglas. She has traveled from what she sees as the civilized eastern United States to visit her father. Upon her arrival, Captain Garrett Jackson Talbot meets her at the station. He explains that her father had an important meeting so he came to escort her back to the fort.  Abby is disappointed, but this is not the first time her father has disappointed her. He chose the military over her and her mother, seeing her infrequently as a child. When her mother died, he left her with her grandparents instead of taking her with him or coming home. She was loved by them, but her father’s choice always made her feel abandoned. The only reason she agreed to come to Fort Douglas was her activity in the Women’s Rights movements. She was especially interested in working towards giving women the right to vote. Once she arrived, she immediately found another, more pressing issue for the women in Salt Lake. Because the United States failed to allow Utah to become a state due to the Mormon’s practice of allowing more than one wife, women were being cast out on the streets by Mormon husbands who chose to keep only one wife, leaving the outcasts without income or skills, some of them turning to prostitution as they had no other choice. Abby’s involvement eventually leads to consequences that not only affect her, but those in the fort she has come to love.

Nancy Foshee’s historical novel has many wonderful layers. Fort Douglas is an interesting story than weaves family, loss, love and history together to create a fascinating novel. It gives the reader a glimpse into life in the 1890s, which is not always pretty. We often take our rights for granted, including the right to vote and other rights women have now, not thinking about the personal and public sacrifices made by individuals to give those rights to us.  Abby came out west to change the world, yet the world ended up changing her. Foshee’s growth and evolvement of characters, especially Abby, was masterful. Her descriptions of Salt Lake and Fort Douglas were done so well, I could almost hear the swish if the women’s dresses when they entered the room. The settings described so vividly wood smoke and horses, wet wool and kittens accompanied my thoughts as I read. When I finished reading Fort Douglas, I searched the internet for more history. Fort Douglas is now a Military Museum. We can actually tour it, allowing us to walk where fictional Abigail Randolph faced very real issues, not to mention learning about the real people that lived there. I loved this book, and recommend it to adult readers that are interested in the historical fiction, mysteries or just love to immerse themselves in a well-written, interesting novel.

Reviewed for Readers’ Favorite

Copyright © 2014 Laura Hartman

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.

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Book Review: Outrageous October by Barbara Levenson

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Outrageous October

Barbara Levenson

296 pages

Reviewed by Laura Hartmanoutrageous_october_book_cover

Outrageous October is the third book in Barbara Levenson’s Mary Magruder Katz Mystery series. The book opens with a year-old murder in High Pines, Vermont. How could Miami criminal defense lawyer Mary Katz possibly get involved with a cold case half a country away?

Mary Katz’s law office in Miami is successful. She is happy and content living with her fiancé Carlos, a hot Latin that she is crazy about and her beloved German Shepherd Sam. After winning a court case, she calls Carlos to make a dinner date to celebrate. He begs off saying he has a business meeting. Not wanting to dine alone after her day, she calls a girlfriend to join her for dinner. Unfortunately, they choose the same restaurant that Carlos has chosen for his “business meeting” with his ex-wife.

Mary runs out of the restaurant distraught. Her friend has a home in High Pines, Vermont, and suggests some time and distance might help Mary heal her broken heart. She agrees, packs up Sam and leaves without allowing Carlos to explain. She returns his engagement ring with a note that explains she cannot live with a man that lies to her. The only person that knows where she is going is her friend, whom Mary swears to secrecy.

Sam and Mary arrive in the tiny Vermont town where everyone knows her name because her friend had to announce her arrival to the caretaker of the home where she is staying. She soon finds out that small towns have no secrets, but mysteries surround her.

Due to a wrong turn on the unmarked mountain roads, she accidently stayed in the wrong home the first night. It happened to be the home in which the murder happened the previous October. Sam barks and growls at suspicious noises and a locked upstairs door. Is someone in the house? Is it haunted? Why is there an SUV parked in the barn one day and gone the next?

Mary moves to the right home with the help of her new friends in High Pines. These friends include Dash, a handsome lawyer that could use an extra lawyer to help with his caseload. Mary agrees to take a case that seems straightforward, but becomes entangled with seedy characters and possibly a murderer. Dash has more in mind than a business relationship, but Mary is still in love with Carlos, even though he shattered her heart.

Levenson weaves a plot that is full of energy and draws the reader in with unanswered questions and emotions that tie up neatly before the end of the novel. Her colorful characters are interesting and intriguing, coming to life on the page. This is the first book by Levenson I’ve read, but it easily can be read as a stand-alone novel. I plan to read the previous two books in the series, Fatal February and Justice in June. The fourth in the Mary Magruder Katz Mystery Series, Neurotic November is due out this winter. Mystery fans looking for a new series should try Ms. Levenson’s books.

Copyright © 2013 Laura Hartman

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.

Book Review: The Demon’s Wife by Rick Hautala

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The Demon’s Wife

Rick Hautala

Published by JournalStone

ISBN-978-1-936564-95-8

314 pages

Reviewed by Laura Hartman

On the first page of this paranormal romance we find out that Claire, a thirty something redhead will marry Samael, a gorgeous demon, by the end of the book. Getting there is fun for the reader and the author.

Claire and her roommate Sally meet Samael in a bar. Sally practically undresses to get the attention of this hunk of a man (demon) but Samael only has eyes for Claire. They chat, he leaves. When the girls leave, Claire is accosted by a man outside. Samael comes to her rescue. This perfect knight in shining armor seals the deal by being a gentleman when he comforts her.

Sally is still jealous, but Claire is head over heels for her demon lover. Samael admits that he was once an angel, but now serves the devil. Claire doesn’t care, she is in love. But can she ever trust a demon, who appears to be hiding details about his life?

Samael starts feeling strange when he continues back to work reaping souls. Could his love for Claire be opening the door to his conscience that he shut long ago? Will he be able to denounce the devil and quit collecting souls to ensure his happiness with his new human wife?

The couple is on a fast train to marriage and an oddly happy life together when other demons intervene in any and every possible way. They retreat to the fortress of Samael’s mansion with his unusual housekeeper and Michael, who in all probability is an angel. Bees, bats and shape changing demons mix with steamy bedroom scenes, skillfully connecting the reader with earthly reality and fantasy in a perfectly paranormal way.

The classic struggle for good over evil works well in this novel. Rick Hautla wrote it with a forked tongue-in-cheek humor that is amusing and sharp. I have to admit I don’t usually pick up romance novels. That being said, I really enjoyed reading The Demon’s Wife.

Sadly, Rick Hautla passed away unexpectedly on March 21, 2013. Please see his website for more information and the list of his books and short stories. http://www.rickhautala.com/

Warning: this novel does have a few scenes that may be considered “R” rated.

Copyright © 2013 Laura Hartman

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review

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