The Lone Warrior

18079685Lori Austin has a knack for bringing the wild west to life in her Once Upon A Time In The West series. The third installment in the series called The Lone Warrior is just as good as the first two. The year is 1871 and Rose Varner has been searching for her daughter who has been kidnapped by the Cheyenne. She has been searching for quite sometime and there may be only one man who can help.

That man is called the White Ghost with Hair of Fire. He was once a prisoner of the Cheyenne but his courage and ability to see the future caused the Cheyenne to accept him as their own. Rose finds her man but sometimes legends aren’t as great as reality. The White Ghost is really Luke Phelan and he’s been living in the hills as a recluse, he has a love for alcohol, hears voices and sees things that aren’t there.

Luke doesn’t want to help Rose but he has never seen a woman as brave as Rose and can’t resist the urge to help find her daughter. Their journey will not be an easy one though, Luke has bounty hunters after him and they also  have to deal with hostile Native Americans, rough weather on the plains, outlaws, armies and insanity.

The Lone Warrior  is an action packed historical romance with deep characters and vivid scenery. The first thing I want to say is don’t let the cover of the book fool you. While the main story is a love story there is much more going on here then just romance. For one thing I loved all the descriptions of 19th century America and hearing how the Native Americans of the times felt about the white man and how the settlers felt about the Native Americans. I also liked how the book gets into the era’s politics also. Lori Handeland who is writing as Lori Austin has done a lot of research and it added to the story.

Another thing I liked about this book was hearing about Luke and Rose’s background. They have both suffered through a lot of pain in their life but they are both strong people. Rose was not a pretty woman and married a man she wasn’t suited for while Luke was a Civil War prisoner and a captive of the Cheyenne. These two are not the kind of people I would expect in a romance, which to me made the story better. I loved how the two come together. Rose feels that no man would want her while Luke thinks he is too crazy and Rose would never want him.

I think the main theme of this book was to never give up no matter how bad things get, there is always something to survive for.  This is a fast paced book but it also manages to fit some humor in. In particular I liked the scene where Rose and Luke meet up with Alexi and Cat and Rose learns how to pull off a con. Alexi and Cat are from Beauty and The Bounty Hunter  which was the first one in the series. The Lone Warrior is a self-contained novel, you don’t have to read the others but after this great book you will want to.

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Vengeance Is Mine

17668916Four people all with something in common are about to live their worst nightmare. They all had a part to play in the destruction of two lives and they thought they got away with it. A hooded figure knows what they did and is going to make sure that vengeance is served. The four people will suffer through all the pain that their victims had to suffer through. Each one will visit their own personal hell and learn from the sins they have committed.

This is the story behind Leon Opio’s Vengeance Is Mine. Things are pretty straight forward in this book and the title says it all. This is a thriller and its all about vengeance. You could also say its a mystery, at first you wonder who the hooded figure is that brought the victims to the dungeon. Then you wonder how are the four related and how did the hooded figure find out about each one and how did they capture them.

Vengeance Is Mine is a full length novel but it seems like a quick read. It’s a fast paced story that you won’t want to put down because you will always be wondering what happens next. I enjoyed how Leon Opio makes all the characters seem sympathetic at first but as you find out more about them you think maybe I shouldn’t be feeling sorry for these people. With the hooded figure its the opposite, you hate the person at first but as the story goes along you think the person is justified.

Everyone in this book is a shade of Gray. I didn’t find myself necessarily liking any of the characters but I still couldn’t put the book down. Leon did a great job of describing the action and coming up with ways to torture everyone in the book. To an extent Vengeance Is Mine had me thinking of the movie Saw because the victims were trapped by an unseen person who was trying to teach them a lesson.

What I enjoyed most about this psychological horror story was how each victim in the story never thought they did anything wrong. They looked at themselves as being good citizens but by thinking only of themselves they hurt others, they didn’t care and became evil. In the case of the hooded figure they are becoming an evil person by torturing the person who did wrong,  even though they see themselves as righteous. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions and no one is a hero in this book, even when they try to be.

Vengeance Is Mine is a wicked thrill ride that anyone who ever wanted to make their enemies suffer will enjoy. There are some surprises along the way and I really loved how the story unfolded. I’ve read books similar to this one but Leon manages to put his own original twist on a thriller about revenge.This is Leon Opio’s first novel and it will be interesting to see what Leon will be able to come up with in future books..