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My Progress:

9 / 30 books. 30% done!

2024 Literary Escapes Challenge

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43 / 104 books. 41% done!

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35 / 52 books. 67% done!

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39 / 165 books. 24% done!
Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Retribution Rails a Fun, Action-Packed Yarn

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Note:  Although this review will not contain spoilers for Retribution Rails, it may inadvertently reveal plot surprises from its companion novel, Vengeance Road.  As always, I recommend reading books in a series in order.

When aspiring journalist Charlotte Vaughn boards a train bound for Tucson, she does so with a determination to make her way as a reporter.  If the 16-year-old can earn money for herself, she can save her mother from a disastrous marriage, keep her family's mine, and make sure she doesn't become a pawn in a crooked scheme cooked up by her greedy uncle.  The last thing Charlotte expects from her train ride is to find herself in the middle of a breaking story.  But that's what happens when a gang of outlaws robs the very locomotive on which she's riding. 

Furious with the Rose Riders—especially the young, handsome one—Charlotte vows to use her keen observation skills to bring the criminals to justice.  That prospect proves more difficult than it seems, especially when she finds herself held hostage by Reece Murphy, an 18-year-old Rose Rider who claims to be on the run from his outlaw pals.  Charlotte doesn't believe that tall tale for a second—still, she could use a ride to Prescott and that's where Reece is heading.  The two might not trust each other, but they do need each other.  Forming an uneasy truce just may be the only way for both of them to get what they want.  With enemies closing in from every direction, they'll have to rely on each other—whether they like it or not.    

If you loved Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman (and I certainly did), you're going to adore Retribution Rails.  While it's not exactly a sequel, the novel revisits the Wild West setting of its predecessor as well as some of its characters.  Charlotte and Reece, the stars of Retribution Rails, are appealing in their own rights—both are sympathetic, brave, and loyal.  Their story brims with action, making for a tense, exciting reading experience.  With a vivid historical setting, an intriguing cast, and an action-packed plot, Retribution Rails offers a fun, enjoyable tale that makes a perfect companion for Vengeance Road.  Give this series a read—you won't regret it.

(Readalikes:  Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman; also reminds me of Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for mild language (no F-bombs), violence, and vague references to rape and prostitution

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of Retribution Rails from Amazon with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.

Intriguing Premise + Rocky Execution = A "Meh" From Me

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Not far from Pittsburgh sits quaint Sewickley, Pennsylvania.  City folks are drawn to its safe, small-town atmosphere, banking on the hope that the place is as placid and peaceful as it seems.  No locale is perfect and, as four women soon find out, even the most tranquil-seeming villages can hide nasty secrets under its serene veneer.  

Alison Riordan, Julie Phelps, Sarah Walker, and Heather Lysenko are four very different women who have become friends because of their children, who all go to school together.  Over coffee at the local cafe, they share their trials and triumphs, swap stories and gossip, offer support and receive encouragement.  No matter how close they have become, however, each harbors a damning secret they'll die before divulging.  Heather's becomes apparent to her friends when they start noticing bruises in odd places on her model-perfect body.  Although Heather denies it's happening, the others recognize the signs of abuse and urge her to leave her wealthy, influential surgeon husband.  When she refuses, they know it's only a matter of time before Heather lands in the hospital.  Or worse.

When they receive the frantic, middle-of-the-night phone call they've been dreading, Alison, Julie, and Sarah are forced to make an impossible decision.  The fateful choice they make in one desperate moment will tear them each apart.  And change their lives forever.  

Just Between Us, a psychological thriller by Rebecca Drake, tells a tense, suspenseful story which I stayed up very, very late to finish.  There's no doubt that it's compelling.  Still, the selfish, unlikable women at the novel's center irritated me.  For being such good friends, I felt little warmth between the four of them.  Maybe that's why their decision and subsequent actions felt so far-fetched and unrealistic.  Despite the fact that I wanted to know what was going to happen, I didn't end up being overly fond of Just Between Us.  The cast just isn't that appealing, the "twists" are fairly predictable, and the ending gets ridiculous.  I like the novel's Desperate Housewife-ish premise.  Its execution?  Not so much.

(Readalikes:  A little like Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for strong language, violence, blood/gore, sexual content, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of Just Between Us from the generous folks at St. Martin's Press.  Thank you!
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