At twenty, Miranda Hayes had known more than her share of heartache and loss. Widowed by the war, orphaned by a vicious band of rebel raiders, she was a woman alone in a harsh, unyielding frontier. Then she clashed with the notorious gunslinger Jake Harkner, a hard-hearted loner with a price on his head, and found within herself a deep well of courage…and feelings of desire she’d never known.
Hunted by lawmen and desperadoes alike, haunted by his brutal past, Jake had spent a lifetime on the dusty trail–and on the run. Until he met a vibrant, honey-haired beauty who was determined to change his violent ways, who loved him enough to risk her life to be his woman…an outlaw’s woman.
From the vast plains of the Midwest across the Oregon Trail to the sun-drenched valleys of southern California, from the blazing Nevada desert to the boomtowns of Colorado, Miranda and Jake struggled to endure amid the perils of a lawless wilderness. In a world of heart-stopping danger and burning desire, could their hard-won love survive the shadows that stalked their happiness?
Outlaw Hearts (Outlaw Hearts #1) by Rosanne Bittner
This is a rerelease of a book first published in 1993, and it was much better than I expected. As this was the same year other – ahem – “stellar” historical romances such as Pirate by Fabio were published, I wasn’t sure what I was going to get. The rerelease comes with the release of the sequel.
Outlaw Hearts seems to be an eternal favourite with readers older than me (I was in sixth grade when this was released), and I can see why that may be, even if I was torn between loving huge parts of it, and cringing at others.
This book just kept going, didn’t it?! Written back in the era of long family sagas, I had to adjust my thinking while reading, because by the one-third mark the characters were already in love, married, had children and were living on their new ranch on the other side of America.
In other words, this book covers a lot of years in their lives, which is nothing like historical romances of today. I do love some longer sagas, such as Sara Donati’s Into the Wilderness, so it all depends on the quality of the book.
The good is that there is action and adventure and a real historical feeling involved in the story. If you want your tough alpha men, you’re more likely to realistically find them in this sort of story than in pretty clothes in a ballroom. I do get sick of authors bending over backwards to make their Regency dukes muscular he-men action stars!
I don’t know where each reader’s moral compass is, but Jake did commit an awful lot of crimes, including murder. It all sort of gets brushed aside and forgotten, despite his endless agonising over not being good enough for Miranda.
I like that back in the 1990s the historical romances were more daring with what they tackled. Things weren’t quite as samey as they sometimes feel now.
I was NO fan of the way characters were named. Firstly, while Miranda is lovely, she always went by Randy. Which is not only a man’s name, but also slang for a man desperate for sex – immediately! And perhaps the villain could have been named something a little less obvious than Clarence Gaylord!!
The book does date itself sometimes. I swear, if I read once more about hero putting his “life” into heroine during bedroom scenes, my Kindle was going to shake right out of my hands with my laughter. The lengthy conversations about the benefits of spanking your children. And I really don’t need to read about the hero fantasising what it would have been like to have sex with the heroine back when she was a young girl and a virgin…
I think if you readjust your expectations of the genre, back to the way these books used to be, this is an enjoyable read. It’s certainly nothing like the god-awful Pirate (yes, I did buy a copy of that one as a joke!).
In fact, I’d like to see some more of the themes of Outlaw Hearts popping up in today’s historical romances. It might help revive the genre.
Review copy provided by NetGalley.