Jane Stewart's Reviews > Pale Moon Stalker

Pale Moon Stalker by Shirl Henke
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Sep 16, 10

bookshelves: historical-western-romance
Read in October, 2008

Cowboy shoot ‘em up with perfect people and assorted hateful bad guys getting their due. Missing emotional pull for me.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
I recently heard that some publishers are doing the following. “A” is a well known best-selling author. “B” is an unknown author who writes a book. The publisher puts both names on the cover of B’s book saying it was written by “A with B.” However, A was not involved with the writing.

I was disturbed when I opened the book “Pale Moon Stalker.” The title page inside the book states the author as “Shirl Henke in collaboration with Jim Henke.” Jim’s name is not shown anywhere on the outside of the book nor on the product page on Amazon. The author’s note states that Jim’s “collaboration just sort of evolved over the years.” Should Jim’s name be on the cover? Is Shirl the main author and merely being gracious by giving Jim credit inside the book? Or, did Jim write most of this and the publisher is doing what I’ve described with persons A and B above? Or, was it truly a joint writing effort? I don’t know any of these answers. But, it bothers me that the double authorship is not shown on the cover. If it was important enough to be inside the book, I think it should be shown on the outside as well. I have not read any of Shirl Henke’s other books so I cannot compare them to this. If I like a story I don’t mind who writes it. I am merely suspicious after hearing about the A and B development above. If someone knows more about any of this, please leave a Comment.

REVIEWER’S OPINION (Includes Story Brief and Some Spoilers):
The characters are exaggerations of perfection: richest, smartest, most famous, and fastest guns in the West. Sky (the heroine) is 1/4 Sioux Indian and reads law, American and English. She describes herself saying “I can handle (the rifle) faster and shoot better than most gunmen. My brother taught me.” Cass, a woman, built a freighting empire starting at age 17. Max is a wealthy British baron who won the Victoria Cross during his military service fighting the Zulu in Africa. He then leaves for America and becomes a famous bounty hunter. He’s the fastest gun in the West and “his natural horsemanship was as good as the finest Sioux warrior.” His friends in America are successful and wealthy.

Then we have complex and well-woven motivations, which were too contrived for me. Sky’s husband was shot in the back by Danny. The courts won’t pursue him because he liked and helped Indians. Sky wants Max, a bounty hunter, to kill Danny for her. Max needs a wife so he can inherit a fortune from his titled uncle in England, who requires marriage as a condition of the inheritance. They do the deal, she marries him, and he will kill Danny. We later meet Cass, who also was required to get married in order to inherit her wealth. She chose Steve who was on his way to being hung. Steve’s choice was to marry her or hang. Bad guys are trying to kill Max and Sky, but a mysterious English woman is following them across the United States and just happens to be nearby each time they get ambushed. She and her two helpers repeatedly save them. Her helpers are Gurkhas from Nepal, the world’s most lethal swordsmen. Next we have a psychic Cheyenne medicine man who just happens to know many things about Sky and Max. He also knows where Danny is (in another state), who recently kidnapped his granddaughter. How convenient.

Readers might enjoy this if they like the following: lightweight entertainment, “cowboy shoot ‘em up story with romance,” perfect people and everything tying up neatly with assorted bad guys getting their due. Personally, I prefer more believability and more emotional development. I don’t require humor and wit, but some of that would have made the story better since it was lacking emotional pull for me. It was ok, but I wanted it to be over.

DATA:
Story length: 324 pages. Sexual language: mild. Number of sex scenes: 6. Length of sex scenes: 1.7 to 5.6 pages. Total number of sex scene pages: 18. Setting: 1884 London, England, plus various locations in the U.S. including New York, Missouri, Colorado and Texas. Copyright: 2008. Genre: historical western romance.
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