Monday, November 6, 2017

Review of Under a Calico Moon by Kelli Keith

Kelli Keith

November 5, 2017

Book Title:
Under a Calico Moon

Book Author:
Ellie Lynn

Date of Publication:
November 6, 2017

Number of Pages:


Main Characters:
Chet Bowman is a lonely rancher trying to recover from his past.

Lil Kersey is the local madam and saloon owner, looking for a lasting love that won’t allow her to lose her independence.

Other Important Characters:

Marshal Mallory is the current law officer of Calico.

Amy Mallory is the main character from the first novel. She married Mallory and is the local school marm.

Austen Riley is the villain and former Marshal of Calico.

Calico, California; 1880.


Chet Bowman is still recovering from the death of his brother, Chas. It has been 6 months since former Marshal, Austen Riley, stood back and watched a lynch mob hang Chas from the gallows. Chet decides he cannot live in solitude any longer and seeks out a new cook, two ranch hands, and the company of Lil Kersey. When strange things start happening, Chet realizes he needs to end Austen Riley once and for all. Will he find the villain in time to save the damsel in distress?

Key Points/Conflict:

Second in the Calico series, the story continues for the residents of this small California town, set in the 1880s. It should be noted that I have not read New Prints in Old Calico (the initial book,) so this is a standalone review.

Chet Bowman has been living in solitude on his ranch for the last six months. Still reeling from his brother’s death (read: murder) and the betrayal of the former Marshal, Austen Riley. After another terrible meal, Chet decided he needed to end his solitude and hire a chef and some ranch hands.

As he rode into town, he thought of Lil Kersey. Lil is the madam and owner of a local saloon/brothel. Chet and Lil have an obvious affinity for one another. Although she is a madam/saloon owner, people still seem to treat her with respect. Lil and Chet begin to court and things seem to be going well. Strange accidents begin happening on Chet’s ranch. When a stray bullet nicks Lil’s arm, Chet tries to retreat to solitude. Lil’s strong nature and desire for Chet’s love, forces him to stay the course.

Back in town, Lil sees Austen Riley, former Marshal of Calico. Now wanted “Dead or Alive” for murder, rape, and corruption, the townspeople are on edge and fear that Riley is behind the misfortunes at Chet’s ranch. After a raid on Marshal Mallory’s ranch, and Lil’s subsequent kidnapping, a posse is formed to end Riley’s reign of terror once and for all.

Lil has been taken to a secluded area of the desert where she suffered from heat exhaustion. When she awakes, she is in a makeshift jail cell with Calico’s doctor, Harvey Witmer. Riley kidnapped him to take care of Lil. Witmer and Lil escape the compound and wander the desert for days until Riley finds them and takes her back into custody, leaving the Doc to die.

The posse discovers Doc in the desert and nurses him back to health. He remembers enough to lead them back to the compound. Once there, an epic gun battle ensues. Chet is wounded, Lil is nearly killed, and Doc saves the day by killing Austen Riley.

As a standalone, the book is okay. Although some parts of the previous conflicts and relationships are explained, it does not negate the need to read to first novel.

The gunfights are well written and leave the reader anxious about the outcome. The language used is sometimes a bit too anachronistic and reminiscent of t.v. show Westerns written in the 50s. (Lil is very similar to the Miss Kitty character from a famous television series.) Other minor characters add a lot of fun and much-needed flair to the book. Palomino Pete, Chet’s cook, is one of the more adorable characters and his limited backstory added a relevant touch to the main plot.

The novel is in the historical romance genre. While this reader enjoyed the simplistic, non-descriptive loves scenes (definitely along the lines of PG,) those who are more inclined to read bodice rippers may be disappointed. It’s a wholesome love story, innocent and tender, which is a nice change of pace.

Although it doesn’t seem historically accurate, I enjoyed the idea of Lil’s character. She seems to be respected by everyone she meets, despite her occupation. The fact that she owned her own saloon would have been a near impossible feat in the 1880s but her character is so likeable, that detail doesn’t matter.

Overall, I found the book to be a quick, mildly enjoyable read. Some additional backstory on the characters would have been helpful, truly making the novel stand on its own. Mark this “to read” on a cold Sunday afternoon this winter.

Under a Calico Moon is available at Amazon, Kobo, and the Champagne Bookstore

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