Book Review: The Blues

Hang on to your cowboy hat for this action-packed contemporary western novel by Susie Drougas.

When Attorney Dusty Rose accepts a wrongful death case, he’s excited that he can combine business with pleasure since the location of the incident is the Eagle Cap Wilderness in Oregon. Together with his private investigator, Mike, who also happens to be Dusty’s riding side-kick, they load up the horse trailer and drive from the greater Seattle area to where the death occurred.

The case involves a couple who had made arrangements with an outfitter to celebrate their anniversary by taking a picnic lunch to the peak of the Eagle Cap. From their base camp, they rode horses as far as they could, but then planned to hike the last 500 feet to the peak. During this stretch of the trip, the woman fell to her instant death. The widowed husband was now suing the outfitter for wrongful death.

On the way to meet the outfitter and investigate the scene, Dusty and Mike stop at a bar for dinner, the only place open at that time of night. They encounter a beautiful young woman, Stevie, and there is an instant attraction between her and Dusty. It’s a regrettable encounter because Dusty already has a wonderful woman in his life, a fellow lawyer, and he instantly regrets his lapse in good judgement. But the damage is done.

The next day Dusty and Mike talk to the outfitter and ride their horses, then hike, to the scene of the accident. Later, they talk to the widowed husband, but are puzzled by the conflicts and inconsistencies of the various stories.

The Blues, a name which refers to a location in the book, is rich in landscape descriptions and of wilderness horseback riding. As a real-life court reporter, the author also exhibits professional knowledge of legal procedures, which add significantly to the realism of the story.

The Blues is the fourth of the Dusty Rose Series. To learn more about the preceding novels and the author, visit

Book Review: The Longest Trail

The Longest Trail

Roni McFadden has written a memorable book,The Longest Trail, a true-life novel that begins in 1963 in northern California when Roni is twelve years old. After saving her baby-sitting money for two years, she buys her first horse, Sparol, for $125,

While on horseback, Roni can forget the sexual abuse from her step-father, forget that she isn’t accepted at school, and, later, that the crowd she’s running with could get her into serious trouble with sex, drugs and free love. When astride a horse, she feels whole and at peace with herself.

Through a friend, Roni meets John Slaughter, then in his forties and married with his own children, a throw-back cowboy with a kind nature and a magical way with horses. In addition to his regular job, John takes hunters on pack trips in the High Sierra Mountains. He offers her an opportunity to help with the horses, to exercise, feed and groom them, and clean corrals. While at school, she lives for the time when she’ll be with the horses, when she’ll be at peace.

Roni proves her value and is soon a part of John’s pack operation and joins him at a pack-station, a place where they stage high-country trips. Through the years, Roni is given more responsibility. With the responsibility comes dealing with city folks who bring the noise and rush of city life to their country outings. She learns patience, self-reliance and how to deal with hardship and discomfort. She learns to appreciate the high country’s beauty and simple pleasures. Roni finds a kinship with horses that few achieve.

An important part of this intriguing story is Roni’s involvement with the by-gone spirits of native peoples. As she learns more about herself, she absorbs ancient spiritual values, wisdom that enriches the rest of her life.

The Longest Trail is the story of an angry, confused girl becoming a woman of strength and character. It’s a fascinating journey, sometimes rough, sometimes awesomely beautiful, always entertaining. I highly recommend this coming-of-age book–it’s an unforgettable story. To learn more about the author, visit


Book Review: The Proof is in the Poodle

The Proof is in the Poodle: One Veterinarian’s Exploration into Healing by Donna Kelleher, DVM, gives readers a chance to explore alternatives to traditional treatment for ailing dogs, cats and horses. Kelleher seeks to treat the whole animal, the physical, emotional and spiritual facets of their lives.

In her youth, Kelleher works on Saturdays with Iris, a neighborhood healer. Gardening with Iris, Kelleher learns the healing qualities of plants, how to preserve them, how to prepare them to make teas or salves. From Iris, she also learns that public opinion isn’t as important as following your heart.

While attending Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Kelleher becomes aware of certain practices that are contrary to what she believes would be better, more effective healing treatments. She finds the common practice of dispensing chemicals repugnant, of euthanasia as being a choice too easily taken.

Kelleher becomes further trained in veterinary acupuncture and chiropractic medicine and becomes a member of the Veterinarian Botanical Medical Association. Using these skills along with those she learned from Iris, her childhood mentor, she finds ways to holistically treat animals without pharmaceutical intervention.

Not everyone will agree with Dr. Kelleher’s views. Eking out another week of an old dog’s life may be difficult for many to grasp. But to cure a disease with herbs rather than with chemicals that often introduce harmful side-effects, may make sense to many.

The Proof is in the Poodle: One Veterinarian’s Exploration into Healing offers well-founded viewpoints on healing. Whether or not you’d want to take this path, the small volume offers enlightened opinions on healing and treating the whole animal. The book is written with humor and heart.

To learn more about Donna Kelleher, DVM, visit

Book Review: Starlight Rescue

Starlight Rescue by Leslee Breene, a Contemporary Western Romance, is a story of a woman with a big heart, and a big debt.

Veterinarian Kimberly Dorn, runs a Wyoming ranch on which she keeps rescued animals, mostly horses and llamas. She’s facing a large loan payment and the threat of greedy land developers. Gabe Trent, from Montana, is a wildlife photographer and filmmaker who needs a temporary place to stay while working in the area, and rents a building on Kimberly’s ranch.

Sparks are ignited, but Kimberly must keep reminding herself that Gabe is just passing through. One of the highlights of the book is when a llama gives a complicated birth and Kim and Gabe assist.

The intriguing love interest is well handled. Breene also does a good job of portraying the personalities of the animals in her charge. Readers have an opportunity to learn about horses, llamas, and emus as Kimberly conducts her daily business.

Starlight Rescue is a fun read, full of life’s passions, compassion, and vivid Wyoming landscapes. For more information about the author, visit