Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Review: Under the Desert Moon by Marsha Canham

Title: Under the Desert Moon
Author: Marsha Canham

Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: September 1, 1992
Publisher: Dell
ISBN: 044020612X
ISBN-13: 9780440206125

Her fate was uncertain...

But that did not keep spirited Aubrey Blue from journeying to Santa Fe to avenge a shattering past that tormented her soul. Disguised as a prim schoolmarm, she hid more than her alluring beauty. For no one could see her fierce determination, her able sharp-shooting, her survivor's heart. No one except the one man determined to claim her as his own...

His past was a secret...

Christian McBride sought justice for the misguided verdict that wrongly jailed him years before. Traveling westward with his stoic Ute companion, Sun Shadow, the rugged, bold plainsman knew the perils of the West better than his own heart - which was about to fall hostage to the mysterious, raven-haired woman who boarded the stage he was riding - and who, it would turn out, was not at all what she seemed...

My rating:

Aubrey Blue is this close to avenging her family. There's just the last leg of her journey between her and her goal, a journey that will take her through the desert, fending off Comanche attacks, unwanted drunken advances from one of her travelling companions, and not-so-unwanted advances from another, a former convict who's after the same man she is, Christian McBride...

Marsha Canham never disappoints. Be it set in the Highlands, on the high seas, or way back in the medieval times, her stories never fail to entertain and/or intrigue the reader.

This one was no different. Set in the wild-wild West in the late 19th century, it featured everything one comes to expect from a western, and what I've come to expect from Ms Canham.
Old feuds for land, money, power, and/or women, gunslingers, chases through the desert, fighting "Injuns", gun fights, saloons...descriptive, evocative narration, wonderful characters, drama galore, and a romance that makes you tingle.

Christian McBride might've been a typical Canham hero (they all pretty much look and act the same), but it was still a pleasure learning about him, discovering the depths of his personality, and watch him topple like a felled oak for the one).
“You’re supposed to make a wish on a falling star,” he murmured.

“Did you?”

“I most certainly did. It took two dozen, but you’re finally here.”
Audrey Blue was rather special. An acquired taste and as much of a puzzle for both her hero and the reader. Some of her choices and decisions were rather incomprehensible (when there were simpler ways to accomplish what she wanted) as was her unwillingness to tell Christian the entire truth. Turns out, she had a good reason for keeping her cards close to her vest, and that reason sure was a doozy.

Together, these two made for quite a couple, with sparks flying every each way whenever they shared a scene, and though the romance might've come across as rather rushed, it was fiery and all-consuming, like romances "of old" are supposed to be (and Ms Canham sure can write a fiery romance).

The rest was just as wonderful, rife with mystery, intrigue and enough suspense to keep the reader engaged, on the edge of the seat and furiously turning pages to learn what would happen next. Multiple villains with multiple motives, each got their well-deserved end, with the most satisfying confrontation offered as cherry on the cake.

Rife with intrigue, wonderful characters with more or less shadowed pasts, revenge-seeking, scorching passion, and stunning imagery, this novel is a must read for all Marsha Canham fans, as well as fans of romance set under the sizzling sun of the frontier or under the glowing desert moon.


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