Falsely convicted of bank robbery, drifter Johnny McAllister is sent to a rehabilitation program in the home of a California judge. When he goes to Judge McMann's home, his aim is to be a model prisoner, hoping to be released early and return to his life's mission: to kill the man who wiped out his family 15 years before. He's planned for everything - except his encounter with Ragan, the beautiful and kind housekeeper, and with the generous folks of Barren Flats. But can Johnny let go of his anger and embrace a new life? One that would include Ragan as his bride?
This tender story reveals how even the hard law of the land doesn't stand a chance when God's mercy and true love come to reside in a heart.
I enjoyed this book a great deal more than the second book in the Western Sky series, A Kiss for Cade. Both Johnny and Ragan are multi-dimensional characters that the reader gets to know and feels compassion for. Copeland also puts an interesting historical plot to mix with the romance story. During the 1800s, western towns had to deal with outlaws, vigilantes and gunfights quite a bit. It could be common for a town to be have to deal with this. The way that the town tries to figure out how to combat their problem is humorous, creative and very much of the times.
I really liked Ragan's character. She cares a great deal for the judge and even though she is the housekeeper, he treats her like a daughter and is very much grateful for her being there for him. She doesn't let Johnny get the best of her and holds her own against him. She never breaks down and lets him take charge of her. I despise females in romances that do this so it was extremely refreshing to have Ragan act in this way. Johnny himself, while stubborn at times, makes it clear to the reader why he acts the way he does. He is not cocky or thinks he knows better than anyone else. While he may not like the situation he's in, he understands why he must stay put even though his goal is to defend his family. I felt the chemistry between Ragan and Johnny to be realistic and that it moved the plot very well.
All in all this is a very sweet western romance. It doesn't break any new ground with it's writing nor does it raise pondering questions to dwell on afterward. Instead it gives a comfort read with an likable strong heroine and a story that keeps you on your seat. A great read for a weekend when you want to escape and go back in time to the wild west.
Outlaw's Bride by Lori Copeland is published by Harvest House (2009)
This review copy was provided by the publisher