Book Reviews: #Texas Authors @JanSikes3 @WHVenema

Hey, everyone. For those of you in the US, I hope you enjoyed the long weekend. Welcome to the first Tuesday of July. I’m plugging right along with my TBR list, and today I have three reviews. All three books are written by Texas authors, and two of them are set in Texas.

The first is by friend and fellow Story Empire author Jan Sikes.


Jag Peters has one goal in his quiet comfortable life—to keep his karma slate wiped clean. A near-miss crash with a candy apple red Harley threatens to upend his safe world. He tracks down the rider to apologize properly. Slipping into a seedy biker bar, he discovers the rider isn’t a “he”, it’s a “she”, a dark-haired beauty.

Rena Jett is a troubled soul, who lives in a rough world. She wants no part of Jag’s apology, but even while she pushes him away, she is attracted to him. When he claims to see a ghost—her brother—can she trust him? And could her brother’s final gift, a magical rune stone with the symbol for “happily ever after” have the power to heal her wounds and allow opposites to find common ground—perhaps even love?

My Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Ghostly Interference is a blend of romance, paranormal, and healing. Rena Jett is a young woman who lost her brother, Sam, in the war. She’s lived a tough life—abandoned by her mother she and Sam spent years in the foster care system. After Sam’s death, she has no one who loves and cares for her.

Jag Peters comes from a middle-class family. He’s a computer geek but has an intense love of music, and once desired to play in a band. Jag and Rena meet by accident—he literally almost causes her to wreck the only thing she has left of her brother, a candy apple red Harley.

Beneath her tough exterior, Rena is vulnerable. She wants a home and a family but feels like she won’t fit into Jag’s world. Jag has issues as well. It’s said opposites attract, and that couldn’t be truer with these two. Oh, and there’s Sam’s ghost who keeps appearing to Jag.

The story line is well developed, and we see both characters grow and mature. Throw in music (which is always a plus for me), plus the Texas setting, and I was completely enthralled. All in all a satisfying and enjoyable read. This is the first in the White Rune Series. and I look forward to the next book.

The next books are by author William Venema, and are part of a series. I learned of his works through Jan, purchased the first book, and kept it on my TBR list for about a year. After finishing it (in two days), I immediately bought a copy of the second novel.


Captain Robert E. Clark arrives in Panama on his first tour of duty as a lawyer. He struggles to reconcile his Southern upbringing and West Point training with a strange new environment. Panama is a muddled mix of conflict and corruption, where, among other things, marriage vows don’t mean what they did at the First United Methodist Church of Pemberton, Georgia. When Clark is assigned to prosecute a murder case involving the death of a thirteen-month old little girl, his ambition causes him to neglect his wife and daughter more than usual and—even worse—bend the rules in ways that call into question what kind of man he is and what he truly values.

In this riveting novel, William Venema tells an intriguing, thought-provoking tale of unrestrained ambition and its consequences. Death comes in many forms, each lethal in its own way.

My Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I enjoy reading a good legal thriller, so when I heard about Death in Panama, I was intrigued enough to buy a copy.

Set during the early 1980s, the book follows the story of Army Captain Robert E. Clark on his first tour of duty in Panama. Clark, as he is called by his friends, has been assigned to the Judge Advocate General Corps at Fort Clayton. A graduate of West Point, Clark’s life is the army, despite having a wife and young daughter.

He isn’t perfect, and some reviewers said they had a hard time liking his character. I had an even harder time liking his wife. From the start, she appeared selfish. She cares little for him and his wants, even when he has to make an emergency trip to the states when he learns his father is dying.

Clark throws himself into his work and not long after arriving is assigned as chief prosecutor in the murder trial of an army specialist accused of murdering his thirteen-month-old niece. The story covers the investigation, trial, as well as the “aftermath.”

While there are a few instances of author intrusion, overall, the writing is solid. Enough that I’m interested in reading the sequel Dawn in Dallas as it follows Clark’s life after the army.


It is 1986, and Robert E. Clark has no idea what the future holds as he leaves the Army JAG Corps and embarks on a civilian legal career. He secures a position at Underwood & Crockett, a prestigious law firm in Dallas, Texas, even though his young daughter and ex-wife reside in Pemberton, Georgia, the small town where he grew up.

Things get complicated when Robert receives disturbing news from home at the same time he is confronted with unethical behavior by one of the senior partners in the law firm. The challenges of his new career and his responsibilities as a father pull him in opposite directions.

Dawn in Dallas has its share of plot twists and interesting characters and along the way reveals some of the darker secrets of life inside a large law firm and the serious deficiencies of our court system.

My Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

After reading Death in Panama, I couldn’t wait to pick up a copy of Dawn in Dallas. Like the first book of the series, I read it in two days.

This book picks up a few years after the first when (now) Major Robert Clark has been reassigned to a post in Georgia. Having gone through a divorce which left him with getting supervised only visits with his daughter, Robert decides to leave the Army and move to Dallas, Texas where he’s offered a position with one of the most prestigious firms in the state.

He soon learns that everything isn’t as it should be. Not only that, but there are also problems with his daughter and ex-wife. His visits to Georgia aren’t looked on favorably by one of the firm’s partners.

At first, we see Robert making some bad choices (much as he did in Panama) but when asked to do something unethical and illegal, he must decide between right and wrong. That’s where we begin to see real character growth.

In Dawn in Dallas, we meet some new characters and see some familiar ones from Death in Panama. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this one.

After posting my review, I was delighted to learn a third book is in the works. You can bet I’ll be buying a copy.

33 thoughts on “Book Reviews: #Texas Authors @JanSikes3 @WHVenema

  1. That was a little fun in Texas, Joan. I have Jan’s book on my kindle and look forward to reading it. I’ve enjoyed all her stories. And thanks for the introduction to William and his books. They sound worth picking up. Happy Reading!


  2. That’s two wonderful reviews I’ve seen of Jan’s books today. Don’t you love it when you discover a series then learn there are more books coming? Kind of like an early Christmas present. Great reviews, Joan!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you SO much for your wonderful review of “Ghostly Interference,” Joan! I have both of William’s books on my Kindle and your reviews are making me anxious to read them!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wonderful reviews, Joan. I’m always impressed by the abundance of writers in Texas. I love Jan’s work and look forward to getting to know Bill. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I enjoy reading legal thrillers from time to time. Coupled with the fact Venema’s books have a military aspect… Well, can’t go wrong with that! I also look forward to Jan’s next book.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. A trifecta of good reads! You can’t beat that, Joan. 🙂

    I read Ghostly Interference by Jan Sikes and really enjoyed it. Like you, I loved the inclusion of the musical aspect to an already multi-layered story. And it sounds like you found another new series to follow with Venema’s work. Great reviews!

    Liked by 2 people

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