The Outlaw (3 stars)
After a tryst in another town, Cozette Comanez returns home to dote on her father as he lies dying of consumption. To give her father his dying wish, Cozette lies and tells him she'd met a man while she was away and is engaged to be married. The reality is she had met a man and is pregnant and not engaged.
Her father is an angry person who's never liked his daughter. He'd rather not give his land to a woman and when he hears of her impending nuptials, he rewrites his will leaving his land to his son-in-law. Cozette will inherit the land after her husband dies. However, if there is no marriage the land will go to Cozette's conniving Uncle.
Wedding plans proceed and on the eve of her wedding Cozette is a nervous wreck. There is no groom. What will she do when the men sent to retrieve him come back empty handed?
Then she has a great bout of luck. A group of thieves has arrived and she talks, Michael Hughes, one of the thieves, into becoming her groom. Michael is a reluctant outlaw who'd prefer to settle down. His three outlaw Uncle's however need his assistance.
With Cozette finding a husband at the last second, her uncle, who'd hoped to inherit the ranch, sets out to stop the marriage by killing Cozette or the groom.
There were enough 'huh?' moments in this story that I got distracted. For example, if the uncle is willing to kill in order to inherit the ranch, why not just off the Dad before the wedding? And, seriously, I would have thought Cozette would have simply left town rather than face everyone on her wedding day with the truth.
If she were strong enough to confront the truth, wouldn't she have already done so? And why in the heck was she standing alone in the church in her pearls anyway?
Even with all this, it was fun watching the hero come into his own after having grown up in terrible circumstances.
Trouble In Petticoats (4.25 stars)
When Johnny Bravo arrives on the ranch claiming to be an attorney, Larissa Patrick is suspicious. A little eavesdropping reveals the truth. Her sister has been kidnapped and her father is hiring Johnny to get her sister back.
Having raised her sister since her mother's death, Larissa isn't going to sit around waiting for Johnny to do the deed. She plans to go with him to extract her sister for herself.
Hot on the kidnapper's trail, Johnny is alarmed when he notices someone is following him. By the time he catches Larissa, it's too late to turn back and not safe for her to return on her own.
The twosome set out to save her sister. Naturally they are drawn to one another, but need to stay focused.
What will happen once they confront the kidnappers and (hopefully) get her sister back? Can Larissa ever love an outlaw and can Johnny settle down?
While Trouble in Petticoats was predictable, it was a fun read. I liked the spunkiness of the heroine and the hero was truly heroic.
Texas Flame (4.5 Stars)
Savannah Parker has been forced into a life of bank robbing by a group of ruthless outlaws. She's beaten but never loses her spark. When she escapes the band, the ex-love of her life, Ethan Kimble, tracks her down.
A lawyer turned lawman, Ethan's determined to bring her in and to learn what made her turn to a life of crime. Then he discovers she's got a young man living with her. The young man is developmentally delayed and dependent on her.
Due to the weather they are stuck in the shelter. As they spend time together, their stories begin to leak out. Eventually they realize both had made wrong assumptions about the other. It would be nice to return to town and try to save her from being convicted, but instead they are dodging bullets from an outlaw who has much to lose should Savannah tell the truth.
If they get out of the situation alive, can Savannah be spared a prison sentence and can they forge a life together?
Trouble in Petticoats does a good job of feeding us the story and backstory in small portions and keeping us wondering what's really going on. I felt the dialog was representative of the time and the research was good as well. Nice Job!
Most Wanted (4.25 stars)
Shadow Rivers had his reasons for becoming a gun for hire, but he's never liked the job. Having grown tired of killing and the reputation that comes with it, Shadow longs for a normal life. But his past keeps him on the run since there are people who'd like him dead.
When damsel in distress, Odessa Kilmore (pun intended), crosses his path, Shadow decides to change his ways by helping her. The trouble is, she's trouble.
She's made a few bad decisions, and one in particular, has landed her on a wanted poster with a hefty reward. She's been trying to meet with the town sheriff to tell her side of the story and, hopefully, clear her name, but every time she gets near him, she's run out of town.
She hires Shadow to help her get her story out, if they can live that long.
Most Wanted is a fun story full of mayhem and danger. I couldn't help but like the two damaged leads (he's done time and she grew up in a brothel) who are trying to repair their lives and become better people.
Shadow feels older than his 28 years, but I suppose a life like he's led would do that to a person. I loved Odessa as the smarmy, gutsy, and completely inept outlaw. The attraction between her and Shadow felt real.
With a train hopping scene, a couple of shoot outs, and some sweet romance, what's not to like? Most Wanted is well written, well researched and thoroughly enjoyable. I would have given it a higher rating were it not for the surreal ending.
If Cozette Camanez's groom doesn't show up for their wedding by dawn, she'll lose her family ranch. Trouble is, the groom doesn't exist - until unsuspecting thief Michael Hughes comes along. Larissa Patrick, the beautiful daughter of a wealthy rancher, has been kidnapped. Only one man can save her: gunfighter Johnny Bravo. Rescuing Larissa is the easy part - but getting her home without losing his heart will take the discipline of a saint. And Johnny's no saint...Lawman Ethan Kimble is finally face to face with his quarry: socialite and bank robber Savannah Parker. The only thing between them is a Winchester pointed at his heart-and some undeniable sparks. When outlaw Shadow Rivers and desperado Odessa Kilmore escape a hail of bullets and team up on a long journey, both are determined to hide their secrets - and their attraction. No easy task as they discover a love more powerful than their enemies combined...