Sunday, January 14, 2018

Anahuac ~ ~ Blog Tour, Review, & Giveaway!

A Texas Story (Volume 2)
  Genre: Historical Fiction / Thriller
Publisher: Canned Peas Productions
Date of Publication: October 3, 2017
Number of Pages: 244

Scroll down for the giveaway!

The Anahuac of 1972 is more than just an isolated outpost on Texas’s Trinity Bay – it’s a place where greed and justice uncomfortably intermingle, where the evangelical fervor of charismatic preachers resonate, where blacks and whites navigate a fragile co-existence, and where a murder leads to even darker mysteries than murder. 

Jim Ward, introduced in Morgan’s Point as a young, idealistic Houston prosecutor, returns in Anahuac as an older, more conflicted, more complicated man, coming to Anahuac to defend a man who appears guilty of a horrible crime. His discoveries lead to entanglements in the very nature of good and evil, in a town that is at once of its time and timeless, steeped in a history that is unexpectedly but definitively drawing Ward in its narrative web.


"Austin writer William D. Darling’s second novel, Anahuac, is an entertaining, engrossing legal thriller that offers both darkly humorous and good-natured thrusts at life, love, and law . . . first-rate reading, especially for readers who enjoy legal thrillers, lawyer procedurals, suspense, Texas settings, and characters who live large." - Lone Star Literary Life

"Darling draws vivid portraits of his setting while also bringing in historical currents like women’s liberation, the growth of container shipping, and the rise of the prosperity gospel, adding interest to what’s otherwise a fairly simple courtroom drama." Kirkus Reviews

I'm a Texan originally from the east coast who's had occasion to meet some of these characters from another planet. Darling weaves us through the minds of lawyers with jealousies, insecurities, questions of faith, honor, and guilt as they tackle the case of a horrible crime that has the potential to put a man of God away forever. I held on tight as we went through the engrossing trial, which did not disappoint! If you love history, crime, passion, religion, and suspense, this is a must read! Kristy Recker (an Amazon reviewer)

HALL WAYS REVIEW: ✪✪✪✪✪* (with a caveat*). Anahuac: A Texas Story, Volume 2 is my first book finished in 2018 -- and it leaves some big shoes to fill for all those that come after it.  Perhaps it has a winning edge over others by including three of my favorite elements: Texas, the 1970s, and kick-ass female characters. Perhaps it’s because the story line grabs you by the collar and pulls you right into small town Texas where life is slow moving and change, progress, and outsiders are unwelcome intruders. Perhaps it’s because the story is unconventional in how it unfolds, which is primarily outside the courtroom.

“While the house and Sarita both retained hints of grandness, 
their best days were behind them.”

Author William Darling NAILS the setting of Anahuac in so many ways. (As a Texan and child of the '70s, I can vouch for the accuracy.) In addition to rich, detailed descriptions, Darling weaves in historical facts to remind the readers that they are immersed in a different time. Texas was still covered with sprawling ranches and more miles of undeveloped land and shorelines than not. Radio programming was strong, and carbon paper and typewriters were how most people made copies. Racial tensions were high, the Vietnam War was raging, and terrorists marred the Olympics.

“The beauty of this situation was that I could treat her like a man.”

A big part of Anahuac centers around the swirl of women’s rights movements that were happening in the 1970s. Women were becoming a presence in formerly male dominated professional fields, and it wasn’t necessarily a welcome change. I am not sure whether author William Darling intended the story to be so timely. Today women continue to fight many of the same equality demons; some are clothed differently, and others wear the same tired coats from forty (fifty? A hundred?) years ago.

All of the characters in Anahuac are well-crafted and fascinating including an eccentric and independent ranch woman, an evangelical preacher with a shady business manager, an old man with old money, and a small-town sheriff with a big hold over the town. Despite a large cast, Darling does an outstanding job of defining the players and making each unique and memorable and familiar to readers. Readers get not only a clear visual but a peek at what makes these multi-layered characters tick. The female characters in Anahuac are all kick-ass -- every single one. From the first pages where we meet the tough-as-nails Sarita Jo Franklin, to the legal secretary, Alice Ann, and the three powerhouse main women, Cooper, Aurora, and Chinky, readers are treated to smart, independent women who know what they want and are going for it despite the man-made hurdles. One of the reasons readers will love main character Jim Ward is that he shows growth as he questions the status quo, realizes that the women who surround him are on equal footing (or possibly have the upper hand), and embraces the advantages they can offer him personally and professionally. He respects them.

“It was one of those "moving duck" moments: on the surface I was sailing along calmly, below the surface I was paddling like hell.” [sic]

The plot was unexpected and unconventional and a real delight. Anahuac is full of the details one would expect with the main character an attorney and the main story line being his defense of an accused murderer. Rather than being a legal thriller, it’s character-driven and readers don’t spend much time in the courtroom.  By the resolution, readers don’t necessarily know who is guilty or innocent, despite how the jury rules. And that’s okay because readers learn so much more and are left with their interest piqued as to what’s going to happen next in the lives of these characters. I intend to go back and read book one in the series, Morgan’s Point, and sincerely hope that there’s a third installment on the horizon.

Anahuac is a top-notch story, and the story deserves a full five stars; however, there’s that caveat*. (Those who regularly read my reviews probably know what’s coming.) There are format issues and the book needs a thorough editing to correct some repeated lines, dropped words, and very basic and repetitive punctuation errors, several of which were glaring to these (Texan) eyes (Ya’ll? No, no, no.). It is common knowledge that I am a freak about all things SPAG. Despite my issue with the issues, that the errors didn’t sour me on the book attests to the quality of the story – it’s that good. I sincerely hope that future editions will be clean to take Anahuac to the next level, where it belongs.

Thank you to Lone Star Book Blog Tours and Orange Cone Agency for providing me a print copy in exchange for my honest opinion – the only kind I give. 

AUDIO BOOK REVIEW: Even having read this book several months ago and knowing how it would all turn-out, LISTENING to this story unfold, I was still absolutely glued to it. It is such an excellent and believable plot, and hearing the characters' voices makes it even more enjoyable, thanks to the fabulous narration by Alan Adelberg.
Adelberg’s narration is evenly delivered and -- with the exception of the pronunciation of “voir dire” -- perfectly performed. From the deep Texas drawls to the evangelical preacher to the British female, Adelberg nails the accents of the wide variety of unique characters in the story.

In reading with my ears, I am reminded of how much I enjoy the language that author William Darling uses to help shape the characters and the settings. Now I am even more anxious for the next installment in this series and ready for book one, Morgan's Point, to get its own audio book treatment!

William D. Darling is a lifelong storyteller and very nearly a native Texan, arriving in his beloved state as an infant in 1942. His first novel, Morgan’s Point, introduced readers to both the mid-‘60s rough-and-tumble world of the Houston courts where Darling came of age, and the Galveston Bay region that has long fascinated him. His latest novel Anahuac, serves as a sequel to Morgan’s Point as well as its own fascinating tale.

Darling, who has lived within the legislative bustle of Washington, D.C. and in the beauty of a Central Texas ranch, currently resides in Austin, where he and his wife have built a longstanding law practice.

January 20, 2018, 10:00AM
Anahuac Reading in Anahuac
William D. Darling brings it on home! He'll read from Anahuac in the city where the new novel is set for the first time ever.
Chambers County Library202 Cummings StreetAnahuacTXUS 

February 17, 2018, 4:30PM
Anahuac Houston Release Event
William D. Darling will sign and read from Anahuac, celebrating the release of the book with friends and well-wishers in the city he once called home, as part of a multi-author event.
Murder by the Books2342 BissonnetHoustonTXUS 
January 5-January 14, 2018
(U.S. Only)

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