5 stars for “A Just and Upright Man” by R.J. Lynch

A Just and Upright Man is a murder/mystery/ historical fiction novel set in Northern England during the 18th century. It gives an interesting glimpse into the different classes of people and their daily lives at that time. It also is rife with the language and idioms of that era which gives it a colorful flavor.

The first chapter introduces the reader to the rape of a commoner by the son of Lord Ravenshead. The young girl begs him not to do so, but he forces himself on her at the edge of the woods, in the cold of winter, then tosses her a coin, as if that made every alright. Lizzie Greener is devastated and very bitter. Lizzie’s circumstances play a major role in the plot of this book. Her desolation changes the lives of herself and her family.

The second chapter opens with the fire that destroys the home of Rueben Cooper and causes his death.

These two events set the stage for much of what happened in the book.

Cooper was despised by the people in the community, and although it was suspected that his death was foul play, most felt he got what he deserved and would have ignored the flames in the middle of the night. However, James Blakiston had other ideas. He ran from door to door, rousting people out to pour water on the flames.  Blakiston was the new overseer for Lord Ravenshead’s estate, and as such he was seen to have a lot of power in the town. Those who might have wanted to defy him, knew better than to do so, because he could have destroyed them if he chose.

Blakiston was new in town. Before anyone knew he had arrived, he had dressed like poor commoner, and walked into town to get an impression of what it was really like. He had met Cooper, who showed him kindness and gave him food. When he realised that Cooper was the man who had died in the fire, he vowed to find out if he had been murdered. If there was foul play, Blakiston vowed to bring the culprit to justice.

As overseer for Lord Ravenshead, he interacted with the farmers, cottagers and all the small holders on the nobleman’s estate. As he took care of Lord Ravenshead’s business, he took every opportunity to ask probing questions about Rueben Cooper and who may have wanted to see him dead.

Ugly secrets came to light, but the amateur detective struggled to find proof of what had happened. Blakiston had his own baggage from the past. He also struggled with his attraction to Kate Greener. As a man born of stature, he knew that a relationship with a commoner like her would never be accepted.

Blakiston proved himself to be a “just and upright man” as he dealt with the issues he was faced with.

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction with a twist of mystery and murder.

This book can be purchased at Amazon.com by clicking here

5 stars for August Fire by Kasey Riley

 

August Fire is a departure from the first two books that I have read by Kasey Riley. “Desperate Endurance” and “Skeleton Trail” both centered around endurance riding, mystery, and bad dudes. The blurb for this book seemed quite different, I was curious to see how she handled it. I was not disappointed!

The book starts off like many traditional romances—Doyle is a hunky man, Stephanie, a beautiful woman—both are running away from former love gone wrong; neither seeks the attraction they feel for the other, neither are able to trust. There is conflict, but they find themselves thrown together in inevitable situations, and gradually the tension and magnetism grows.

Fires start springing up in the area, and one night the two of them find themselves driving back roads together, intent on rescuing livestock from the latest inferno. Unwittingly they come upon the arsonist, but they assume he is just a firefighter lighting a backfire. After they pass him, Stephanie looks back, and realises that the man has deliberately set fire on both side of the trail, cutting off any chance of them driving back out. They are trapped.

From there on, the story line takes a deadly turn. The arsonist knows they could recognise him and he is determined to make sure that never happens. They find themselves in a fight for their lives, and it doesn’t end when they escape certain death, by the using ingenuity and Stephanie’s knowledge of the area to save themselves from the fire.

The book gives you a look into the mind of the arsonist—why he lit his very first fire as a child, why he continued to do so until he became addicted to the thrill of the burn. What starts out as resolve not to be caught, becomes a determination to destroy the two people who have foiled his efforts to eliminate them. He is devious, and willing to take anyone out as he targets Doyle and Stephanie.

Ironically, I read this book while the area where I live has been experiencing an explosion of wildfires cause by nature. Before we retired, I was a rancher’s wife, and I well understand the devastation that fires wreak on livestock and range. I can only imagine how terrifying it would be to be caught in a wildfire with no way out. Riley did a wonderful job of portraying the situation, making me feel like I was caught up in it.

But she also put other realist elements into the story. I had to cringe at the honesty she wrote into the bout of food poisoning that Stephanie experienced. And I loved Doyle’s matter of fact reaction and consideration as he dealt with it all.

Kasey Riley has proven to me that she is a talented, multi-faceted author. I will be looking for her next book when it comes out.

August Fire is a great, quick read. I suggest you do not miss it!!

This book can be purchased on Amazon.com by clicking here. 

The Lost History of Ancient America–Read this book with an open mind–also remember that once man believed the world was flat and they were proven wrong.

I enjoyed this book. I am always fascinated by ideas that do not fit the status quo, and I read with an open mind. I have read other books that “documented” the discovery of bones of giants found in mounds in the USA. (Giants are mentioned in the Bible, so why not here?) Underwater ruins are found all around the world, so it is not shocking to me to read that they have been found off the coast of Oregon. I was quite fascinated by the possibility of Bronze Age oil wells in Pennsylvania…and why not? Oil comes to the surface in many oil rich locations. I was also interested in the description of plants that are found in different areas where they are not indigenous and the idea that those species were taken to other places through commerce.

I was warned by a Face Book reader about the veracity of this author, saying none of his theories are proven. Sill, I am reminded that at one time people believed that the earth was flat and that was proven untrue. I have no problem believing that there were civilizations in America before Columbus “discovered” it. Educated elites definitely have added to current knowledge of our world, and I understand how they would push against anything that would suggest they might not have all the answers. Still if no one ever questioned and delved deeper, we would still think the world is flat.

If you have a curious mind, if you believe that anything is possible, I suggest you read this book and decide for yourself how much you are able to believe.

 

You can purchase this book on Amazon.com