I found this one at Barnes and Noble the other day. I pulled out a few from the shelf to read first chapters. This is the one I liked best - and it may very well be because of the cover. For goodness sake! It's beautiful. I especially love the writing across the top (maybe from one of her letters to Mark?) But the BCC also sounded interesting and the first chapter was good.
So for your pleasure, here's the description:
Johnny Paynter flees Denver to escape being hanged for a murder he didn’t commit. At his brother’s ranch in Texas, where he thought he could take refuge, he finds his brother, Mark—dead. Taking advantage of his strong resemblance to his brother, Johnny assumes Mark’s identity. Soon Johnny discovers that Mark had been corresponding with a widow named Sally in St. Louis, and she’s en route to be a mail-order bride to Mark. Seeing no other option, Johnny makes a fateful decision to go through with the wedding, posing as his brother. But Sally has secrets she's hiding, too. How will a marriage survive with so much deception?
Now, if I'm honest... I may have an affinity for secret identities. I just find them fascinating to read because I spend most of the story dying to know when someone will find out. But this story had a lot to offer.
The Outlaw Takes a Bride is very much a classic, western prairie romance. There's plenty of great historical detail about ranch life in Texas that gave me the same nostalgia as Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House Books and Jeanette Oke's Love Comes Softly series. It just has that feel to it - with a bit of gunplay thrown into the mix.
It was definitely a good read. I enjoyed it and every minute I wasn't reading it, I was wishing I was curled up on my couch following Johnny and Sally (to be honest, I wish she went by Sarah and he by John, but that's just my personal preference).
The only thing that bothered me was perhaps too much attention to everyday life. I did appreciate it as a history buff, but it did create a bit of drag. I also hoped Johnny would get a backbone for the first half of the book. But he found it when Sally needed him. Good boy.
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