Book Review for Secure the Ranch

**** Stars

By Robert "Dimndbangr" Hicks (Honolulu, HI)
This review is from: Secure the Ranch (Paperback)

Secure the Ranch is the first book by debut author Joyce Oroz.

Secure the Ranch follows a mystery surrounding Josephine Stuart, an artist who is hired to paint some murals for a wealthy client high in the mountains of California. After strange accidents, occurrences, and the death of a wildlife ranger, Josephine finds she is unable to set aside her curiosity and delves deep into a mystery best left alone. Some subplots involve her friendship with one of her neighbors, visits with her mom and dad, and others that would lead to spoilers.

I will have to admit that the writing in this book is well done. Even though I may have found myself hesitant at times to pick the book back up from other things I was doing, once I did, I was engrossed and read chapter after chapter. The characters were also better than I imagined they would be at the beginning. I had a vision of the wealthy clients to be the snobbish type and they turned out to be much better than that and I was thankful. There was some nice depth to the characters and they were easy to connect with.

Some criticisms:

1. The dialogue, though done well enough throughout the majority of the book had some abrupt endings to it. It just felt like there was more to be said, but the next thing I know, the story moves on to something else. Mostly this happens while Josephine is searching for answers of what is going on.

2. There were a couple of inconsistencies in this book. The main one is at the beginning when Josephine is getting ready for bed; she sets the alarm for 7:30. In the next chapter, she is woken to music coming from the clock radio at 7.

Some Positives

1. I really did enjoy the characters in this novel. Everyone had their own voice and was easy to distinguish from the other characters. The reader can easily connect with the characters.

2. In just about every chapter, something happens to keep the reader engaged in the story. Ms. Oroz really knows how to keep a mystery going and giving just enough tidbits for the reader to try to figure out what is going on and who is involved.

3. The imagery is nicely detailed without overbearing the reader with all the details. It is a nice mix of giving the author's vision while at the same time leaving out enough so the reader can fill in the rest.

There are reviewers who compare this with Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. Aside from having a pet, bill collectors calling constantly, and an overactive sense of curiosity, that is about where the comparison ends. I will say I did enjoy this book and if there are to be more books from this author, I will definitely buy them. I know most of Janet Evanovich's fans are getting tired of the stale trail the plum books have been following, so I would recommend this one to them for a refreshing view away from the every day.

Happy reading

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