Quail Creek Ranch

Fiction - Western
365 Pages
Reviewed on 09/10/2020
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Author Biography

About the author: Mike Shellenbergar received his under graduate degree from the University of Central Missouri and his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He practiced in Rockport, Texas. He is a veteran of the United States Army Security Agency, a private pilot and a dive master. He lived in Playa del Carmen, Mexico for twelve years. He now divides his time between his home in Summit County, Colorado and his home on Key Allegro, a small island in Rockport, Texas.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Ruffina Oserio for Readers' Favorite

Quail Creek Ranch by Mike Shellenbergar is a beautiful meld of romance and western genres. Diego “Dee” Ryan, a graduate of Westpoint Military Academy, has served as an officer in the Union Army and has also joined Benito Juarez to fight for the independence of Mexico from the Spanish king, which led Juarez to reward him with a grant of land in northeastern New Mexico. Now he wants to transform this land into a profitable ranch. In town, he meets Myriam Barnard, the daughter of the reputable local rancher, Jake Bernard, and is instantly attracted to her. She seems to have a liking for him as well. Can he win her and can he establish himself as a rancher in a world filled with violence?

The author is a great storyteller and I particularly loved the way the Wild West is depicted in the story. The historical hints are very strong, taking the reader back to the period of the Civil War. The characters are well-developed and rich, and Dee is a character with a solid background. His experience of war makes him a rock-solid character who knows how to handle violence and he also has a unique skill when it comes to handling guns. The prose is beautiful and filled with strong and compelling descriptions. I loved the way Mike Shellenbergar handles the romance, allowing the story to evolve through the plot steadily. It is not suddenly explosive and this builds the suspense. Quail Creek Ranch is a great story told by a gifted storyteller. It features characters that I loved and I wanted to know what would become of them.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

Once a Texas Ranger, Dee (Diego) Ryan knows a thing or two about the good and the bad of life in the wild west. Leaving behind his former life as a lawman, Dee is bent on settling his claim, a large piece of land in New Mexico, ideal for ranching. There’s also a woman he’s met that he wants to make his life’s partner as he tames the land and becomes a well-respected rancher. But there’s trouble brewing, with horse and cattle thieves plundering the lives and livelihood of the local ranchers. Once a lawman, always a lawman, Dee sets out to make things right for himself and other ranchers around him. It’s a wild west good versus evil scenario, but Dee is up to the challenge.

Mike Shellenbergar’s western romance, Quail Creek Ranch, has all the makings of a good western love story: romance, gunfights, cattle drives, campfires and so much more. The plot is well developed as the main character, Dee, sets out to establish and develop his claim despite threats and concerns about the lawlessness around him. He manages to out-smart every attempt on his life and those he loves. The romance starts off slowly but develops with ease as Dee works hard to start up his ranch and build his reputation as a good, caring rancher. There is a touch of humor in parts of the story, like the source of the naming of his ranch, Quail Creek, all of which adds a human side to the struggles of settling in the wild west. The author knows his history as he aptly describes the setting and the lawlessness of the wild west era. Overall, a good read.

Bernadette Diane Anderson

In Quail Creek Ranch by Mike Shellenbergar, Diego Ryan (known to his friends as Dee) meets the best part of his future on a stormy night. Coming to the rescue of a beautiful woman in a wagon stuck in the mud and raging water, so begins this story of a war hero with all the skills needed to survive a harsh environment in making his new life. Given a gift of land by grateful authorities including a President, he sets off to mark out his land and pay the necessary registration fees for what will become Quail Creek Ranch. Along the way, life becomes filled with danger from devious greedy cowboys, some disguised as businessmen, others just bullies with a liking for murder and mayhem. Making both friends and enemies, Dee meets life head-on with many various battles and challenges, with the love of his life, Myriam, keeping him focused and dedicated to making a happy, safe life together. With good, loyal friends and loving family members, join their joyful and tearful journey.

In an exciting story based in the traditional Wild West era, author Mike Shellenbergar takes you on a journey of action, drama, and romance in the midst of devilish plots, murders, and trouble with a capital T. Quail Creek Ranch brings you a beautifully detailed account of areas of wilderness, mountain ranges, creeks, and rivers, drawing you into this tale with great care and attention. Your emotions are brought out by this staggering look at life in the Wild West. Mike Shellenbergar makes it hard to put the book down. You get a real flavor for the characters and this draws your feelings of love or hate out in the open. The plot revolves around the two main characters but makes it easy to form opinions, both good and bad, about the remaining characters in the book, having a relationship with each one individually. Very enjoyable overall with a good mix of action and romance. It is a great reading experience. Both newcomers and those familiar with this genre will love it!

K.C. Finn

Quail Creek Ranch is a work of fiction in the western, romantic and interpersonal drama sub-genres, and was penned by author Mike Shellenbergar. Set in the old west when ways of living were tougher, we find two souls brought together by a Spanish land grant. Diego ‘Dee’ Ryan has a long history of fighting for both American and Mexican freedom, so when he is given some land in New Mexico, he intends to make the most of it. That’s when he meets Myriam Barnard, the daughter of a rancher, and so begins a tender romance as the world slowly changes around them. What results is a romance suitable for most mature readers and a thoroughly pleasant dramatic tale.

Author Mike Shellenbergar offers a beautiful historical look at the old west which is a stark contrast to many of the typical gunslinging books of the genre. I found it very heartening that the work allowed us to get up close with real people trying to get by during these times. The romantic plotline worked really well alongside the progression of real history and settlement of the west, and the author provides accurate details that make you feel as though you’re looking into the actual lives of people gone by. Myriam was a delightful character, filled with emotion, and she represented a very important theme of women and their often overlooked role at the time. Overall, I would certainly recommend Quail Creek Ranch to readers of all types who are looking for a highly accomplished work of dramatic fiction.

Asher Syed

Quail Creek Ranch by Mike Shellenbergar is a western romance novel taking place in the near post-Civil War era, and spanning several years over the life of its protagonist, Diego “Dee” Ryan. Dee is an accomplished and educated man who filled three distinct roles on what would now be considered the right side of history even if it meant traversing borders. He is early on established as a man of principle, born of a Mexican mother that leads him into the sphere of the legendary Benito Juarez, who ultimately paves the way for Dee to settle into life as a rancher with the woman he loves.

Quail Creek Ranch is my first Mike Shellenbergar book and I enjoyed the well-researched history imparted throughout the story. Dee makes a solid leading man and his blended heritage is a good vehicle to explain the course of action he frequently takes without simply blanketing the character as a one-dimensional good guy. Myriam brings out a tenderness in Dee through a relationship that grows as the plot progresses. Shellenbergar's writing style is simple, with a narrative that occasionally lapses into detailing the story's action through telling as opposed to showing. I didn't mind this so much as the prose was balanced by dialogue that came across as authentic. The era was difficult due to an almost constant string of war and rebellion, and the portrayal of a man like Dee is extremely well done. The same can be said for Myriam and the grit required of women who followed their men to the frontier.