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REVIEW:  The Sharing Spoon by Kathleen Eagle

REVIEW: The Sharing Spoon by Kathleen Eagle

sharing-spoon

A Christmas star shines brightly in the Western skies, bringing hope, love, and miracles in three unforgettable stories of romance trimmed with the holiday traditions of Native America.

The Sharing Spoon

Cynthia intends to show her inner-city classroom that Santa does not forget about children. For Kyle Bear Soldier, donating part of his fortune is not just about giving money away, but about offering the hope that helped him rise from a dirt-poor childhood on a reservation.

Can two people from different worlds make miracles happen if they share the same dream?

The Wolf and the Lamb

As Christmas 1879 approaches, Boston-bred Emily Lambert arrives in the wilds of the Dakota Territory to find that her mail-order husband has died and left two young daughters for her to raise.

While guarding his heart, gunslinger Wolf Morsette, himself an outcast, reluctantly takes the trio under-wing.

With only the promise of the season to bolster their spirits, a fragile group sets out on a heart-wrenching journey across the frigid prairie in search of a welcoming home where love, acceptance, and new beginnings prove there is always room at the inn.

The Twelfth Moon

Sergeant Luke Tracker is a confirmed career-army man, and he’s only dropping in for the holidays to make his sister, Frances, happy for a while. He’ll spend a few days with their family, enjoy a dose of traditional celebrations, play Santa at the school where Frances teaches—easy.

Hope Spencer has no idea that her friend Frances is about to play Mistletoe Matchmaker. Until she lands on Luke Tracker’s knee.

Dear Ms. Eagle,

Tis the season for Christmas anthologies and when I saw this collection of some of your previously published novellas, I couldn’t resist revisiting two of them and trying the third. I’m not sure who wrote the blurb for “The Sharing Spoon” but I certainly didn’t recall any fortune that the hero had beyond his abundance of determination to help the children of his school. The second blurb – for “The Wolf and the Lamb” is fairly accurate while that for “The Twelfth Moon” might have been expanded just a tad.

In all of the stories, I enjoyed the easy way you worked in the details of NA/Indian culture and traditions. Newbie Cynthia might have come off as a bit of a wide-eyed innocent as far as not only her trial-by-fire introduction to working with school children but also learning about the Lakota and Ojibwa teachers with whom she’s working. But her almost painful earnestness was easing by the end as she began to get into the spirit of Indian time and Indian humor.

The story ends with the two of them heading towards the point where they can take their relationship two – if not more – steps forward and I agree with Kyle’s niece that she’s probably going to be calling Cynthia “Auntie” fairly soon though these two still have a ways to go before a HEA. I’m glad that the finish point still allows them this time. B

I’ve read my share of hard bitten, half-breed gunslinger stories so I wasn’t sure how you’d handle this type of hero. Wolf Morsette isn’t quite as tough as nails as some I’ve seen and I like the fact that his Metis culture hasn’t cast him off as is so often the case with this genre. He’s still got some softness to go with his rougher edges though he doesn’t turn into an overnight marshmallow when faced with Easterner Emily and two orphaned, mixed breed girls.

Emily might be momentarily out of her depth when she arrives in South Dakota but soon shows she’s got the grit to make it and the heart to take charge of two “daughters” she’s never met before. The story manages to avoid veering into too cutesy territory as Emily and Wolf continue to have quite realistic male/female clashes to go along with their culture shock. B-

Soldier Luke Tracker meeting his match in teacher Hope Spencer is a story I loved when I first read it and it remains a favorite today. You’ve got neat thumbnail backstories that reveal just enough of each of them, show their differences and then the novella moves on to let us see them coming together, and getting to know each other. Plus as a bonus there are more little nuggets of information about reservation life, about Luke’s family and their pride in his accomplishments plus some hints and tips about what to look out for at a feed. The giveaway scene moved me to tears a second time just like it did the first. Here is economical story telling that shows me everything I need to know to believe in their HEA and believe it I do. A

~Jayne

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REVIEW:  The Ballad of Emma O’Toole by Elizabeth Lane

REVIEW: The Ballad of Emma O’Toole by Elizabeth Lane

Ballad-Emma

Dear Ms. Lane,

I hadn’t read a western in a while so the blurb for this one caught my eye.

High stakes marriage

After shooting a man, the stakes for gambler Logan Devereaux have never been higher. On trial for his life, he’s offered a shocking alternate form of restitution…marriage to his victim’s pregnant sweetheart!

Beautiful Emma O’Toole has sworn vengeance against him—and when a newspaper man puts her tragic story to song, the whole nation waits to see what she’ll do. Their marriage is the riskiest gamble Logan’s ever taken. But he’ll put everything he’s got on the line for a chance at winning Emma’s heart.

This set up, plus my luck with several of your other books, got me to put this one in my TBR queue and to move it to the top fairly quickly. I enjoyed reading a western again but somehow this story just never quite took flight.

Forced marriage of convenience, sworn vengeance, enemies-to-lovers, blackmail, muckraking crusade for social justice – the book had several plotlines that could have been twisted together for a bang up story. But despite the potential, each one sort of drifted along, never quite reached a crescendo of emotion and then got resolved. Sort of like being taken down a swift river with some blind curves but no real plunging, waterfall payoff that got my heart racing.

Emma is faced with social ruination from an unwed pregnancy after her fiancé is killed but the quick marriage and her husband’s money smooths that over and soon the townsfolk seem to forget. Logan is jailed and tried for Billy John’s murder but a smart lawyer and a Mormon judge set on saving those he considers sinners get a lesser conviction and force the quick marriage after which no one seems to remember the crime Logan was found guilty of. Even Emma drifts along with the marriage for months before remembering she swore to avenge her dead lover.

Mining conditions take up a great deal of the next portion of the book. I learned a lot about the dangers of mining then as well as the difficulties of making mines profitable. It was all interesting but not what I’d call riveting and not what I wanted instead of romance. Emma thinks she has a way of getting Logan to pay for what he did but that doesn’t work out as she thought it would though it does bring them to a point in their marriage where they begin being more honest with each other. I’ll give the book points for that though soon it sinks into a bit of melodrama before quickly moving on past that as well.

The villain of the story remains the villain until the end with only a cursory explanation for his motives. Emma and Logan band together to see to his end and finally confess all to each other thus clearing the way for their future but the epilogue is required to neatly, almost too neatly, tie up all the loose ends and send the two lovers off into a rosy sunset. Perhaps there just isn’t enough word count space these days but I feel that this book could have, and in the past would have, been so much more. Now though it just felt superficial and too rushed as the points were more skimmed over than delved into. C

~Jayne

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