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REVIEW: Under the Desert Moon by Marsha Canham

Dear Mrs. Canham,

044020612×01mzzzzzzz.jpgThis one reads like one of those old, rootin’, tootin’ shoot ’em up Western movies. I rolled my eyes in places and had a few problems but overall this is 500 pages of pure adrenaline. I do think I would be remise in not warning readers that the violence is sometimes graphic and some of it is against women.

Aubrey Blue is on her way back to Santa Fe after ten years and she’s aiming for vengeance. Her family was killed, their ranch burned and she barely escaped with her life. Now the man responsible, Maxwell Fleming, is going to pay. But first she has to get there. Posing as a prim schoolmarm, she boards the stage in Great Bend, Kansas and along with an assortment of interesting characters, braves the hot, dusty, rutted road and attack from a renegade band of Comanches. But before she arrives in New Mexico, she realizes that her greatest danger might be in the arms of Christian McBride, a man with reasons of his own to hate Fleming.

McBride has spent the last five years breaking rocks in Leavenworth after being set up for manslaughter by Fleming. He dismisses the prim Miss Blue til he gets a good look at her and sees that there’s more to her than she wants to let on. After a night of wild passion, including what might be the most explosive orgasms ever experienced on the face of the earth, they know they have unfinished business.

But it’s not going to be easy to take down Maxwell Fleming, the most powerful man in Santa Fe. Aubrey sets her plan in motion but hadn’t counted on McBride showing up and laying siege to her heart (along with other parts of her anatomy). This one ends with a wild night of arson, jailbreaking, shoot outs, revelations and revenge. And who is going to be left standing is up in the air til the end.

This one was heading straight for A+ territory til a few things happen that made me do the eye rolling I mentioned above. Aubrey heads back into danger over something I thought was kind of silly. There are a lot of coincidences and for someone who is supposed to such a clever con artist, Aubrey heads into her scam against Fleming with a lot of loose ends and “making it up as she goes along” messiness. Plus she keeps letting herself be disarmed then sputtering impotent threats. Christian isn’t above using his physical strength to force Aubrey into doing or not doing things but I could understand his exasperation with her. I loved most of the secondary characters and you do a marvelous job making me think I really am on that awful, rocking stage coach from hell journey before plunging me into a hair raising attack from Comanche braves. The second half of the book doesn’t quite live up to the first but it was still worth my while to get to take the trip. B+


This book is out of print but can be purchased from a used book seller. There is no ebook format.

  • # Mass Market Paperback: 512 pages
  • # Publisher: Dell (September 1, 1992)
  • # Language: English
  • # ISBN-10: 044020612X
  • # ISBN-13: 978-0440206125

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.


  1. vanessa jaye
    Dec 20, 2007 @ 15:23:59

    For a moment there I thought this was a new release. :-/ I’ll keep my eyes peeled at the UBS/Library for it.

  2. clara bow
    Dec 20, 2007 @ 16:39:38

    Wow, this sounds awesome. Shades of the film ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, too, which I love. I’m definitely going to check this out. Thanks for reviewing it!

  3. Danielle
    Dec 20, 2007 @ 19:41:48

    Over at Marsha’s MySpace page she mentions that her muse is beginning to stir and her fingers are beginning to itch over the computer keys.


  4. Jayne
    Dec 21, 2007 @ 07:18:13

    Yes, this is an older book but I believe it’s been released at least once so hopefully wouldn’t be hard to find.

    Danielle, that is fantastic news. I’ll cross my fingers but (at least for now) won’t hold my breath.

  5. Angela
    Dec 21, 2007 @ 21:17:38

    This was one of her lesser efforts for me. But it’s still heads and tails above the bland Western romances that killed the sub-genre.

  6. clara bow
    Feb 20, 2008 @ 16:45:05

    I recently finished reading this book and I really, really enjoyed it. I had a few quibbles, but overall thought it was an exciting read.

    I think that Aubrey’s characterization and actions were consistent vis a vis her goal, so I didn’t find the reason “silly” that she went into danger. I agree, though, that her cleverness was more tell than show.

    I was pleasantly surprised by many of the gritty, gruesome details. I liked that it wasn’t sugarcoated.

    Anyway, thanks again for reviewing this because otherwise I’d have missed out on a memorable book.

  7. Jayne
    Feb 20, 2008 @ 17:17:36

    Clara I’m glad you liked it. Canham does include nitty gritty stuff in her books which is one reason I like her. Give some of her other stuff a try – she does great pirates!

  8. clara bow
    Feb 29, 2008 @ 00:19:22

    wow, pirates too, huh? thanks for the info!

  9. Marsha Canham
    Oct 25, 2011 @ 14:51:17

    Just a quick note to thank you for the review and to let you know that Under The Desert Moon is now available as an Ebook at Amazon and Barnes and Noble and Smashwords. Not sure if I’m allowed to put links here, but a quick search will find it along with the rest of my backlist books.

    Again, thank you so much for a great review.

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