Saturday, May 16, 2015

ARC Review: Outlaw Hearts

Outlaw Hearts
Rosanne Bittner
Western/Historical Romance
Outlaw Hearts/Book 1
February 1, 1993/Bantam
Sourcebooks/May 5, 2015

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 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?

I've always loved a good western romance and Rosanne Bittner certainly knows how to write them. This isn't just a western romance but an adventure spanning miles and years of rough roads and rougher living. Through all of this, Jake and Miranda endure and eventually thrive.

Miranda Hayes has such a strong spirit but even her spirit is tested in what she has endured both during and after the American Civil War. What I liked most about her is her ability to see not just right from wrong but to use both her heart and her head when making difficult decisions. She continues to have hope in the good of the world but is still practical in her need to survive.

Jake Harkner was on the path to lawlessness at an early age. Circumstances and bitterness lead to a life on the wrong side of the law and his image on wanted posters. Jake isn't a bad guy but you can't say he's completely good either. He has no problem killing and little to any remorse when he feels it's justified. His redemption comes through Miranda. Had it not been for her, he would have died in a shoot out or at the end of a noose. The thing about Jake is he doesn't feel he is deserving of redemption but he tries. He does succeed but still doesn't completely give up violence, not when his family is in danger. To me, that's a very believable compromise.

Miranda and Jake come together through their own unique way of living life. Miranda with her need to help others and Jake with his need for trouble. When they separate, they don't expect to see each other again but fate has a way of  bringing two people together who were meant to be together.

This is not a pretty, romanticized look at the west. Bittner shows the wild west in all its hostile, brutal glory. I would actually find myself worrying about Miranda and Jake. Silly, since there wasn't any doubt they wouldn't make it through to their Happily Ever After. This is a romance after all. The villains were truly villainous and even though the logical part of my brain knew Jake and Miranda would ultimately be okay, there was still the feeling all would not turn out well.

If you're in the mood for an exciting western with an authentic feel, Outlaw Hearts fits the bill. And this July the sequel will be released allowing us to catch up with Miranda and Jake, twenty-six years later. I'm curious to see what Ms. Bittner has in store for the older, wiser couple.

Rating: B+

Outlaw Hearts

Outlaw Hearts
Do Not Forsake Me (July 7, 2015)


  1. I read this back in the day - a print copy that had teeny, tiny print and like, zero margins. I've always wanted to reread it - but did I mention the teeny tiny print? LOL

    I'm so glad Sourcebooks is reprinting it and that the series will go on. Bittner is generally really great with "gritty" and her early books especially read like romantic sagas. Looking forward to revisiting this one.

  2. I love this book so, so, so much and I'm almost down to counting hours until I can get my hands on the ebook.