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text 2015-10-31 19:41
It's gloomy outside. Kind of looks like Halloween
The Spirit is Willing - Max McCoy

Ophelia is looking out her office window, and feeling sad.  They're closed, but a client comes to the door.  Ophelia tells the women that they will be open tomorrow.  The woman has tears in her eyes.  She notices the ink stain on Ophelia's sleeve and offers a remedy, vinegar.


“I have no vinegar,” I said.


The afternoon seemed suddenly quite empty. Why would a lack of vinegar plunge me into a fit of melancholia?


It wasn’t the shirt, but what the stain on the white shirt represented, and that it was now permanent;

that I lacked any of the essentials to create a home;

that I was spending another Sunday afternoon alone, save for a talking bird;

and that, in my hour of need, I was denied even the consolation of sour wine, a biblical resonance that is at once absurd and indicates the depth of my sudden self-pity.


doesn't that sound desolate?  But Ophelia decides to invite the woman in to feel less lonely.  The woman explains why she came to see her.


“Your life sounds pleasant enough,” I said. “Why do you need my help?”

She hid her face with her hand, fingertips trembling on her forehead. “Because,” she said, in a voice so low that I had to lean forward to catch the words. “We are haunted by a book.”


They're being haunted by a book!  Can't wait -- reading on!

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text 2015-10-31 07:11
"The Spirit is Willing
The Spirit is Willing - Max McCoy

. . . but the alibi is weak."


Why do I like that so much?  I do not know.  I just do.


so now I'm diving right back in to 1880s Dodge City, and adventuring with Ophelia and Eddie.

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review 2015-10-31 06:59
"She talks to dead people. Then she solves their murders."
Of Grave Concern:: An Ophelia Wylde Paranormal Mystery - Max McCoy

I liked the first several paragraphs.  


Then I didn't like it. for several chapters.  The main character seemed rude and unpleasant.  I took a break until I had more patience; and then I found out that there are underlying factors for her manners.  She has reasons to be tense and irritable.


pretty soon, I found myself quite liking Ophelia, a woman on the run and stuck in Dodge City on her way to points west.  My favorite character is Eddie, the Raven, who quotes Poe at every opportunity, and earns the Corvid Good Citizens Award when he saves Ophelia from a fate worse than death.



so, this is why I didn't quite like Ophelia at first.  She is disdainful of the place and the people, and doesn't bother to hide it.  In responding to a comment made by a fellow traveller, she says, "Why, bless your rustic soul."  That just seems uncalled for.


she climbs the hill to the cemetery and these are her thoughts as she looks down on the town:


"From up on Boot Hill, it was easy to imagine the cowboys and the soldiers and the townspeople as animals. The good citizens and the soldiers were mostly herd animals, I decided, but the cowboys ran in packs, like wolves. The most unpredictable and therefore most dangerous of the cowboy animals were the loners— the lobos."

[I don't even know how to process that.]


but after that, I guess she got her feet back under her, and her sense of humor began to shine through.  After over-indulging in the local beverage, she paid a visit to the doctor, who offered this advice:  


" . . . the old- timers say the best cure for the common hangover is to brew up some tea using rabbit pellets,” Doc McCarty said, lifting his glasses so he could read the label on a small tin he had taken from the shelf. “You could try some rabbit-drop tea, if you like.”

“The thought makes me want to hurt you.”


 After she makes a comment about the primitive structures prevalent in the city --


You have the best rooms in the city.”

“That is sad,” I said. “The wind blows the dust through the walls.”


And the conversation that takes place at the attorney's --


There wasn’t room to sit, because every flat surface was piled with something— legal documents, law books, dirty plates. Even the chairs had bundles of the Times and other newspapers on them.

“How do you live like this?”

“Sorry, I didn’t know I was going to have guests.”

“Where are your books?”

“The law books are in the corner.”

“No, I mean literature.”

“I read newspapers.”

“But not Twain or Dickens.”

“I only read factual material.”

“There’s more fiction in just one edition of the Kansas City Times than in all of Thackeray,” I said, aiming at sounding droll but grazing boorish, instead.


Ophelia Wylde is a spiritualist with her own set of ethics.  She helps people, but she doesn't have a problem cheating those whose own morals are in question.  She seems to think it's karma.  

I like the next three conversations because it shows that, while she may have a problem with religion, she still has a heightened sense of spirituality. --


" . . . it’s curious that a woman who professes to demonstrate spirit communication seems skeptical of religious faith. Don’t you believe, Miss Wylde?”

“I believed in a lot of things, Doc,” I said, “when I was a child. But now, I have given up childish things.”

“That’s good,” he said. “Using the Bible to support your disbelief. Clever."


And here, one of her clients has found a reason to find fault with her performance regarding his dead sister. --

“You maybe isn’t a whore, but you is for damn sure a witch. I seen you at the opera house once and twice and knows you is a witch, and the Book says not to suffer a witch to live.”


“But it also says a lot of other stuff,” I pleaded. “Jesus said to turn the other cheek, to go and sin no more, to love thy neighbor as thyself. Don’t just take the part that justifies murdering somebody.”


and later, they have to exhume the body of a murdered girl in order to obtain some evidence. --

“All right, boys. Seal her up and get her back into the ground.”

“Wait,” I said.

“For what?” Calder asked.

“We should say something.”

“She’s right,” McCarty said.

“Go ahead,” Calder said to me.

“I’m no preacher.”

“You’re the closest thing we’ve got,” McCarty said.

“All right.” I told the men to doff their hats, although Calder wasn’t wearing a hat, as usual. Then I cleared my throat and bowed my head.

“I wish you could hear me,” I said. “Because if you could, I’d tell you that you aren’t forgotten, that even if we don’t know your name, there are good people here who care about what happened to you. We’re going to try to help you find some rest.”


And this is my favorite scene in the whole book.  It might not make you cry but me, I did.  Ophelia is riding to her death and has a hard task to accomplish first: 


"The problem with ravens and other corvids is that once they imprint on a person, it’s for life. If given to another owner, they become deeply melancholic and often will themselves dead. I had raised Eddie since he was just a baby. If I left him for someone else to take care of, even somebody as kind as Doc McCarty, odds were that Eddie would soon become miserable and would eventually die.


So there was only one thing to do. I opened the cage and reached my hand in. Eddie rubbed his beak against my fingers, the membrane over his eyes half closing in contentment. Then I took him out of the cage and held him for a moment on my forearm, stroking his gleaming blue-black feathers.

“I’m sorry, Eddie,” I said. “My hand is played out and I’m about to jump off the edge of the world for God knows where. I don’t expect to come back, considering the amount of weaponry Calder was preparing, and from the tone of his voice. . . It’s better to die trying than to just sit and waste away into somebody else, don’t you think?”

He cocked his head. “I know. It’s all my fault. I’m so sorry.” I started to cry. “At least this way, you’ll have a chance,” I said.

“Ravens are smart, and you’re the smartest of them all. Why, if you could learn the things I taught you, you will do just fine on your own. But you’ll have to look out for hawks and eagles, and probably hang around town so you can eat scraps the restaurants throw out their back doors.”

I wiped my eyes with the back of my free hand. “And who knows?” I told him. “Maybe I will come back, and you’ll still be here in Dodge, and you’ll find me and we’ll be like we always were— inseparable. What do you think, baby? We’ll meet again, right?”


Now I was truly bawling. I carried him to the open window. “Go on,” I said. He didn’t budge. “Take off,” I said. “You’re free.” He swiveled his head to look at me with first one eye, and then the other.

“Fly, damn it!” I shoved my arm out the window and shook it, and Eddie squawked and snarled and dug his claws into my arm, trying to hang on. Then I shook harder, and Eddie flew off. He swung out low over North Front, flapped over the train depot, and then turned sharply, coming back to the hotel.

I slammed the window shut."



There's still time to read the second in the series before Halloween is over.  This was a Kindle Unlimited, but depending how the next book plays out, I may end up adding it to my own library.


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text 2015-10-31 05:11
I was planning to finish this last night . . .
Of Grave Concern:: An Ophelia Wylde Paranormal Mystery - Max McCoy

. . . But found it annoying and couldn't get into it.


tonight, it's getting better.


“What do they do with all those hides, anyway?”

“They cut them up to make belts to drive machinery back East. Whether it’s steam power or water power, the power has to be transmitted to the pulleys somehow, and buffalo hide is cheap and wears well. Also, the bones can be ground into fertilizer.”

“So the buffalo are being turned into the very things that hasten their demise— fertilizer for farmland and pulleys to drive machinery that produces everything from guns to barbed wire.”

“How is that different than the Comanche using buffalo meat for food and the hide for their lodges and the tails for fly swatters?”

“One is a matter of need,” I said. “The other is just an example of greed.”


i was under the impression that they stripped the skins and left the carcasses to rot.  I was not aware that they used the bones for fertilizer. So, not quite such a travesty.  


No, still a travesty.  But also, old news.  There's plenty more to take its place in contemporary time.



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text 2015-01-13 15:56
Daguerreotype: Photographers in Historical Romance Novels
Handpicked Husband - Winnie Griggs
Colorado Dawn (A Runaway Brides Novel Book 2) - Kaki Warner
Painted by the Sun - Elizabeth Grayson
A Flickering Light - Jane Kirkpatrick
A Vision of Lucy (A Rocky Creek Romance Book 3) - Margaret Brownley
A Light on the Veranda - Ciji Ware
Second Sight - Amanda Quick
Fool's Gold - Zana Bell
A Bride's Portrait of Dodge City, Kansas (Brides & Weddings) - Erica Vetsch
Miss Fontenot - Stephen Bly

Practical photography is said to be born around 1839 when picture taking became able to be done for commercial use.  What a wonderful context for Historical Romance--the life of an early photographer. 


Enjoy these Photographers in Historical Romance Novels. My lists are never in any particular order. 


1. Handpicked Husband (Texas Grooms Book 1) by Winnie Griggs


Can she drive away not one, but three suitors?

Free-spirited photographer Regina Nash is ready to try. But unless she marries one of the gentlemen her grandfather has sent for her inspection, she'll lose custody of her nephew. So she must persuade them—and Adam Barr, her grandfather's envoy—that she'd make a thoroughly unsuitable wife.

Adam isn't convinced. Regina might be unconventional, but she has wit, spirit and warmth. His job was to make sure Regina chose from the men he escorted to Texas—not to marry her himself! Can they overcome the secrets in her past, and the shadows in his, to find a perfect future together?


2. Colorado Dawn (A Runaway Brides Novel Book 2) by Kaki Warner


After only three letters and one visit during her six-year marriage to a Scottish cavalry officer, Maddie Wallace decides to build a new life for herself by accepting an assignment from a London periodical to photograph the American West. Then Angus Wallace returns home unexpectedly after a military injury to find his wife gone, and to discover he’s in line to an earldom. His mission to find Maddie takes him to Heartbreak Creek, Colorado where his biggest challenge awaits: convincing his headstrong wife to return home as his viscountess.

Now Maddie must decide between the glorious Colorado mountains or the glittering ballrooms of London, and between the man she has loved and the dreams she wants so desperately to fulfill.


3. Painted by the Sun by Elizabeth Grayson


A Woman On A Desperate Quest
Working as a traveling photographer, Shea Waterston is following the path of the orphan trains west, searching for the son she was forced to give up ten years before. She pays for her search any way she can, including setting up her camera to photograph a hanging. When that lands her in Judge Gallimore's jail, Shea never dreams that soon after, she'll have the chance to save the judge's life.
A Man With A Terrible Secret
Colorado Territorial Judge Cameron Gallimore is a strong, just man who damned himself years before with one fateful decision. Only this mysterious stranger from Denver truly touches the empty hidden places in his heart.  Then, with nothing more than a chance photograph and the haunting familiarity in a young boy's smile, they both find the past catching up with them.  But will its secrets drive them into each other's arms?  Or out of each other's life forever...


4. A Flickering Light: Portraits of the Heart, Book 1 by Jane Kirkpatrick


Returning to her Midwest roots, award-winning author Jane Kirkpatrick draws a page from her grandmother's photo album to capture the interplay between shadow and light, temptation and faith that marks a woman's pursuit of her dreams.

She took exquisite photographs,
but her heart was the true image exposed.

Fifteen-year-old Jessie Ann Gaebele loves nothing more than capturing a gorgeous Minnesota landscape when the sunlight casts its most mesmerizing shadows. So when F.J. Bauer hires her in 1907 to assist in his studio and darkroom, her dreams for a career in photography appear to find root in reality.

With the infamous hazards of the explosive powder used for lighting and the toxic darkroom chemicals, photography is considered a man' s profession. Yet Jessie shows remarkable talent in both the artistry and business of running a studio. She proves less skillful, however, at managing her growing attraction to the very married Mr. Bauer.

This luminous coming-of-age tale deftly exposes the intricate shadows that play across every dream worth pursuing–and the irresistible light that beckons the dreamer on.


5. A Vision of Lucy (A Rocky Creek Romance Book 3)  by Margaret Brownley


When posing for Lucy anything can happen--and usually does.
Lucy's determination to become a female photographer despite the odds against her--and Wolf's obsessive need for revenge against those who left him to die--pit these
two together in an adventurous story that challenges their faith in God and
love for each other and turns the town of Rocky Creek upside-down. 



6. A Light on the Veranda by Ciji Ware


In this wonderful sequel to Midnight on Julia Street (1999), Daphne Duvallon leaves her native New Orleans for New York City after abandoning her philandering fiance at the altar in front of 500 guests. Now her brother, King, wants her to come back south for his wedding in Natchez. A talented Julliard-trained harpist, Daphne will do anything for her brother, even if it means losing her job with an up-and-coming orchestra, and the trip truly becomes a life-altering experience when she meets Sim Hopkins, a nature photographer who has the potential to be the right man in her life if she can learn to trust again. Both are cautious, and for good reason, as the distant past impacts their future, cued by the music of a mysterious harp. This ghostly instrument opens a gateway to a sequence of tragic events beginning in the late 1790s and ending, finally, with the death of a previous Daphne Duvallon. A thoroughly engaging romance in its own right. Patty Engelmann Copyright © American Library Association. 


7. Second Sight (Arcane Society Book 1) by Amanda Quick


Photographer Venetia Milton is a spinster by Victorian standards. Economically strapped, she's also the sole support of her aunt and younger siblings. Things start to look up when she is chosen to photograph a collection of artifacts belonging to the Arcane Society, a 200-year-old clandestine organization founded by an alchemist. The collection is housed in an isolated gothic mansion, and Venetia finds herself there in the company of handsome and mysterious Gabriel Jones. Deciding that it's now or never for love, Venetia seduces him, only to lose the man of her dreams in a fire set by a nefarious enemy. Venetia resourcefully moves on, opening a portrait shop and assuming the persona of Gabriel's grieving widow. The talented Mrs. Jones becomes the toast of London, a surprising turnaround, but not nearly as astonishing as Gabriel's reappearance, and the danger she finds herself in. Quick's latest is a clever and entertaining tale about secrets, from a secret society to secret powers to a secret theft. Quick also slips in serious observations about the status of women, debunking the all-too-common assumption that feminism isn't alive and well in the romance genre. With her witty dialogue, multidimensional characters complete with eccentricities and psychic abilities, clever plotting, and generous humor, the perennially popular Quick has penned another surefire winner. Shelley Mosley Copyright © American Library Association.



8. Fool's Gold by Zana Bell


Love – is it worth its weight in gold?

It’s 1866 and the gold rush is on. Left to fend for herself in the wilds of New Zealand’s west coast, Lady Guinevere Stanhope is determined to do whatever it takes to rescue her ancestral home and restore her father’s good name.

Forced out of his native Ireland, Quinn O’Donnell dreams of striking gold. His fiercely held prejudices make him loath to help any English person, let alone a lady as haughty and obstinate as Guinevere. But when a flash flood hits, Quinn is compelled to rescue her, and their paths become entwined in this uncharted new world.

Though a most inconvenient attraction forms between them, both remain determined to pursue their dreams, whatever the cost.

Will they realise in time that all that glitters is not gold?


9. A Bride's Portrait of Dodge City, Kansas (Brides & Weddings) by Erica Vetsch


Hoping to leave the shadows of her shady yesteryears behind, Adeline Reid is focusing on her photography career. But when her ex-boyfriend’s compatriot in crime shows up in Dodge City her entire past is threatened by exposure. Can Addie keep her secrets while helping to catch a killer? Deputy Miles Carr’s investigation into a shopkeeper’s murder leads him to Addie’s door. Will his attraction to this female photographer keep him from catching the true culprit? Or will Addie lead him off course in more ways than one?


10. Miss Fontenot: Heroines of the Golden West, Book 3  by Stephen Bly


Stephen Bly's Heroines of the Golden West, which includes Sweet Carolina and The Marquesa, is a dramatic series set in the Old West. With Miss Fontenot, listeners will enjoy another visit to the growing town of Cantrell, Montana, and its colorful residents. Oliole Fontenot has moved to Cantrell from New York City to set up her own photography studio. When she is commissioned to do a series on women in the West, she realizes that this is the chance she needs to establish her reputation as an artist. But a handsome rancher begins to capture her heart, and she must reevaluate what she wants. Is God being too bountiful with his blessings? Praying for guidance, Oliole finds herself asking questions about vanity, humility, and freedom. Through Linda Stephens' narration, the young woman's meditations become a dramatic testimony to divine direction and love.



To vote for the best of the Historical Romance Photographers, go to my Goodreads list: Daguerreotype: Photographers in Historical Romance Novels


I love to know your favorites!



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