Book Review: Lawless Love by Andrea Downing

Guest Review by Heidi LaVista

book review Lawless Love by Andrea DowningWhile tracking a suspect in the murder of a local ranch owner, US Marshal Dylan Kane encounters Lacey Everhart twice in the course of one afternoon. First bathing in the river, and then as the proprietress of the town’s only lodging house. When her younger brother, who matches the description of his suspect, returns home, Marshal Kane’s long-held beliefs of right and wrong, black and white, are challenged in the interactions that follow.

Lawless Love is an enjoyable historical short story. Andrea Downing’s imagery is great, as are the historical aspects. I did have some trouble with the phonetic use of dialog, which was abundant and somewhat inconsistent. The words and pronunciations are most likely accurate for the time and setting, but spelling them out distracted me nonetheless.

Also distracting are a couple of my personal pet peeves, which won’t bother most readers, but I have to mention. I. Don’t. Like. This. Effect. At. All. Yeah, that. The story does require some suspension of disbelief, suffering from the insta-lust and love often seen in novellas. I had a hard time believing Lacey would think about kissing a man she was rightly furious with for spying while she bathed in the nude. I also didn’t get much of a chance to experience what the hero and heroine saw in each other to make them fall so hard into love—or even lust—so quickly despite their beliefs and values of the time period.

I do have a couple of sentences that show the great potential for Ms. Downing’s imagery, but mix with passive phrasing:

“As night whispered about him and he watched the curtains billow before they were sucked out into the silver light of the moon, Dylan lay imagining what it would be like to hold Lacey in that nocturnal quiet.”

Loved the imagery, but the passive phrases and words not so much.

“Outside, a ball of tumbleweed spun by as branches tried to meet the earth and the gate crashed open and shut.”

Same thing. Loved the imagery, would have liked to see it more active, but that’s just me being picky. And then the repeated line a few pages later:

“Out the window, the front gate crashed and slammed on its hinges as tumbleweed bowled by.”

Essentially the same thing, but with active rephrasing. Blend the two sentences together, and I think we’d have something very nice indeed.

Overall, Lawless Love entertained, and I’m interested to read the author’s other works. I love the potential of her talent and would like to see the results of a little stronger editing in the more technical areas.

book review lawless love by andrea downing

About the Book

Lacey Everhart has carved out a tough existence in the wilds of 1880s Wyoming, working hard to build a secure life for herself and her younger brother, Luke. She will stop at nothing to protect what’s hers and keep them safe. Even if it means keeping a secret that could destroy their lives.

Marshal Dylan J. Kane is a man who considers everything as black and white, right or wrong.  He’s never seen life any other way until he sets eyes on Lacey. Suddenly the straight and narrow that he’s followed has a few twists and turns. Loving Lacey offers the home life for which he hankers…but can he really love a woman who seems to be plain lawless?

About the Author

Andrea Downing likes to say that, when she decided to leave New York, the city of her birth, she made a wrong turn and went east instead of west.   She ended up spending most of her life in the UK where she received an M.A. from the University of Keele in Staffordshire.  She married and raised a beautiful daughter and  stayed on to teach and write, living in the Derbyshire Peak District, the English Lake District, Wales and the Chiltern Hills before finally moving into London. During this time, family vacations were often on guest ranches in the American West, where she and her daughter have clocked up some 17 ranches to date. In addition, she has traveled widely throughout Europe, South America, and Africa, living briefly in Nigeria. In 2008 she returned to the city of her birth, NYC, but frequently exchanges the canyons of city streets for the wide open spaces of the West.  Her love of horses, ranches, rodeo and just about anything else western is reflected in her writing.  Loveland, a western historical romance published by The Wild Rose Press, was her first book and is a finalist for the RONE Award of Best American Historical.  Lawless Love, a story, comes out as part of The Wild Rose Press Lawmen and Outlaws’ series on Sept. 4.  Andrea is a member of Romance Writers of America and Women Writing the West.

Follow Andrea on her blog, Twitter, Facebook, and purchase Lawless Love on Amazon

About the Reviewer

Heidi LaVista loves to combine words and song, reads more than a lot, and dabbles in writing stuff sometimes. Loves editing, stuffed animals (not clowns), cute guys, cats and dogs, and chocolate-covered pretzels.

On Writing: World Building Through Research, History, and Just Good Ol’ Imagination

Vikings and Chatting and Travis Fimmel, Oh My!

Guest Post by Sandi Layne

Finding Inspiration for writingFirst, I want to thank J and M for letting me hang out on their blog. I’ve been here since Day One (on the blog. . .) and I love to watch them “chat” and so on. So much fun!

The only place I’ve really posted in a “chat” format was on my blog in conjunction with author Lissa Bryan. She and I discussed the History Channel’s original series VIKINGS every Monday for nine weeks.

It was fantastic. You see, I write about Vikings myself. Just not the same breed of Vikings as were on the show, so I enjoyed very much seeing the variations in the culture of those in Scandinavia and those in Nordweg—today’s Norway. The latter are what I’ve spent years growing a bit close to, in one way or another.

Compare and Contrast

In my book Éire’s Captive Moon (book one of my Éire’s Viking Trilogy), I researched and wrote of the Northmen from Nordweg, who had a different social system from the people who lived in what are now Sweden and Denmark. Though I use the word “viking” in the title, the men themselves did not use that word so it isn’t actually used in the stories. They called themselves Ostmen,while others in Europe used the term “vikingr.” This could refer to a man who lives near a vik – or one who sails or roams on the sea. It is an Old Norse word, and I use Old Norse dictionaries as I write these stories.

I did not use the old sagas as a basis for my writing, in general. Instead, I used what history I could glean from accounts from Éire—Ireland—and what has been found in archeological digs in Norway and Ireland. When Lissa indicated that the series has used some of the legends that came from the warrior Ragnar Lothbrok (there are alternate spellings, of course), I knew I’d have little knowledge of the plot that the series would take, though I did recognize much of the clothing and housing and crafts used in the series.

And, of course, the fighting styles. The Northmen fought with battle axes and spears, mostly. Very few had swords as they were costly and hard to make.

I did compare many things that I saw in the series to what I had found in my research, and many of the cultural references are the same. The leadership was different, involving a different political structure. Norway was not yet bound together as a cohesive body under one ruler at the time of my writing.

Timing

I am really kind of relieved that I had the first book in the trilogy written many years ago, initially. Self-published as Captive Irish Moon, the book was finished in the summer of 2004. My research didn’t end there, though! I’ve kept at it and new finds have been discovered, which made my original timeline off and it was very frustrating.

Getting the opportunity to adjust some of the details was great when ECM was accepted by my publisher. The original book is still the original story, but I’ve allowed myself to expand it through my notion of getting to the leadership of the only Viking who ever claimed the High Kingship of Ireland: Tuirgeis (also known by other names). Each of the three books in my series deal with the Norse culture of the early ninth century, including their clothing, beliefs, social structure and marriage customs.

I also explore how the Ostmen invade Éire and settle there.

I am relieved, as I said, because my story is told, in my head, for the most part. Book two was in editing by the time VIKINGS was broadcast on television, so I knew that there would be no subconscious borrowing of legends or materials or anything. For my personal mental health, this is a good thing. The second book of my trilogy is called Éire’s Viking and it should be out early in 2014.

The third book is being written now and I’m calling it Éire’s Devil King as a working title. I know that History Channel is planning a second season of their show in 2014, but by the time it airs, my trilogy will be complete on my end, so I will enjoy the show as it is presented.

Reverb Effect?

I think that I was fortunate to have a book out on Vikings from the same era (more or less) as those in the History Channel show. I confess to shamelessly tweeting to my followers that if they just couldn’t wait for Sunday night and the next episode of VIKINGS, then they could buy my book for their Kindle and get more Vikings immediately.

Did it work? I have no idea. Maybe?

By the time the next season rolls around, Éire’s Viking will likely be out and I would like to hope that the contrast between what is likely to happen in the life of Ragnar Lothbrok and the what is happening in the life of Agnarr Halvardson, who chooses to settle in Éire, will be appealing.

[For any of my readers who were Team Agnarr after reading Éire’s Captive Moon, I think book two will make them happy. And the Team Cowan people? You’ll be happy, too.]

About the Author

Wife of one and mom of two, Sandi currently resides in Maryland. Besides historical fiction, she writes contemporary inspirational romances – one of which will be released this summer.  Her interests involve researching anything, autism, and learning how to spin by hand. Coffee and the written word are her addictions, and she loves the world before the sun lights the sky.

Find Sandi Anywhere…

Website

Éire’s Captive Moon on Amazon

Sandi Layne on Goodreads

Twitter

Facebook page

The Writing Process: Finding Inspiration

GETTING INSPIRATION FOR MY WORK IN PROGRESS

Guest Post by Margaret Tanner

Writing ProcessI write historical romance, so how do I get inspiration for my work in progress, or for that matter, all my novels?

Like the heroines in my novels, my forebears left their native shores in sailing ships to forge a new life in the untamed frontiers of colonial Australia. They battled bushfires, hardship and the tyranny of distance in an inhospitable and savage land, where only the tough and resilient would survive. They not only survived but prospered in ways that would not have been possible for them had they stayed in England and Scotland.

I am a fourth generation Australian. We are a tough, resilient people, and we have fought hard to find our place in the world.   We have beautiful scenery, unique wild life, and a bloodied convict history.

I admire heroines who are resourceful, not afraid to fight for her family and the man she loves. I want my readers to be cheering for her, willing her to obtain her goals, to overcome the obstacles put in her way by rugged frontier men who think they only want a wife to beget sons.  A chance for revenge.  To consolidate their fortunes. That love is for fools.  Oh, the victory for the reader when these tough, ruthless men succumb to the heroine’s bravery and beauty and are prepared to risk all, even their lives, to save her.

Then there are the brave young men who sailed thousands of miles across the sea in World War 1 to fight for mother England, the birth country of their parents and grandparents. I also wanted to write about the wives and sweethearts who often waited in vain for their loved ones to return. Who were there to nurture the returning heroes, heal their broken bodies and tormented souls.

This is why I write historical romance, even if it means trawling through dusty books in the library, haunting every historical site on the internet, badgering elderly relatives, and risking snake-bite by clambering around overgrown cemeteries.

Historical novels are informative.  When they contain a dash of romance they are also entertaining. Research is imperative when writing in this genre. Nothing kills your story or reputation quicker than inaccuracy.

I sincerely believe that those who forget the past do so at their peril. Nations should learn from the mistakes of the previous generations and not repeat them, but if the history is not documented, how can new generations learn about it?

Margaret Tanner is an award winning multi-published Australian author. She loves delving into the pages of history as she carries out research for her historical romance novels, and prides herself on being historically correct.  Her publishers are Whiskey Creek Press, The Wild Rose Press and Books We Love.

Margaret is a member of the Melbourne Romance Writers Group (MRWG). Be sure to visit Margaret’s website!