M.L. Rigdon, from my writers’ group Scribes, is one of my best friends and ALSO one of my critique partners. Which means–and this is the lucky part–I’m her critique partner. We trade manuscripts to beta read. She scribbles with red ink on my pages, and I scribble on hers. She just gave me the first half of her newest book, DROVER’S LANE, to critique. I love all of her books, but I think I love her historical novels the most. Don’t get me wrong. I love all of them, but I have no patience for researching every little last detail for historicals, so I’m happy when someone else does it for me.
Mary Lou, as Julia Donner, writes Regency romances in a Friendship Series that I devour. I was a big fan of Georgette Heyer (who’s in trouble now for being racist, but I never got it at the time. I didn’t read the book that made it so apparent). Mary Lou has the same wry humor and Jane Austen mannerisms with strong females and men who know how to win them. When I want a fun read, her Regencies do the trick. But like me, Mary Lou needs to change it up once in a while, and then she writes fantasies, action/adventure, and historical Westerns.
DROVER’S LANE is a historical Western, and I’m not that far into it, but I’m already hooked. The only things I know about that period of history is what I watched on Gunsmoke, The Big Valley, and my dad’s favorite TV shows. And there are some missing pieces because of peoples’ preferences back then. So far, I’m already enthralled with Millie–a Chinese woman who’s working with the protagonist, a widow, in her bakery/breakfast/and lunch shop. Millie has a sharp mind and a sharper tongue. I love her. But as always, Lillian Flowers–the protagonist–is complex and intriguing and the romantic interest has depths we don’t expect. I’m in for a good read.
I have to say, I have a thing for historicals. That’s why I’m so drawn to Anna Lee Huber’s Lady Darby series and C.S. Harris’s Sebastian St. Cyr novels, along with a few others that I read sporadically. Most of the ones that are automatic buys focus on the Regency or Victorian periods, and those are what drew me to Mary Lou’s Julia Donner Regencies, too. But I’m enjoying the historical Westerns just as much, and I didn’t expect to. But I should have known better. I fell in love with Zane Grey’s THE LAST TRAIL and BETTY ZANE. I read every James Fenimore Cooper Natty Bumppo novel in middle school.
I mostly write mysteries, but when I read, it’s nice to go outside of my genre sometimes. I don’t know if you’re a fan of historicals or if you like Westerns, but I can recommend Julia Donner Western romances. And a warning. Her writing can get mighty spicy–another reason I enjoy them:)