The Franciscan by James Rollo

This action-filled story sails us from Rome to the Wild West of America during the period around the Civil War.  Father Moretti, a humble church scholar, has his devotion to God tested when he discovers a treasure map tucked away in a hidden recess among archives.  Almost too strange for coincidence, the very same day Moretti’s superior, who is unaware of his find, sends him on an overseas assignment to the missions of the Santa Cruz Valley in North America.  This is the very spot marked by an X on the treasure map.  And the scholar monk will not be travelling alone.

Unbeknown to Moretti, it was not only his eyes studying the map.  Through a peephole to Moretti’s chamber, a disgruntled church employee is able to make a rough copy of the map.  This copy is passed to a greedy professional who will stop at nothing to claim the riches for himself.

With such a beginning, how can this story avoid being full of adventure?   The main storyline is rich, but Rollo gives us spices to go with it.  With Union cavalry troops, Confederate cavalry, fierce bands of Apache Indians, pioneer settlers, and wagons full of gold as ingredients, James Rollo cooks up quite a tale!

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The Last Sunset by Bob Atkinson

Wow!  Bob Atkinson not only writes a good action story, but he provokes a reader to ponder the possibility of different realities, or even alternate universes.  The Last Sunset is reminiscent of Diana Gabaldon‘s Outlander series, insomuch that time travel and the fateful battle at Culloden play a major role in the theme.  But that is as far as it goes.

In The Last Sunset , the heroine of the story, Shawnee, an American lass with Highlander roots, is much less concerned about the history changing results of time travel  (like little interferences changing major historical events); instead, she is more concerned that she and the others who have found themselves thrown into an earlier century will not be able to prevent that infamous massacre of her people back in the mid-1700’s.

I give this book a thumbs-up, and I hope that Mr. Atkinson gifts us with a sequel.