The past just would not leave them to their peace. Larger than life, a hard, ruthless former outlaw who has gone straight must continually fight bitterly tough battles to keep his family safe and keep his darker side at bay. The author has created a magnificent legend of the west in her hero, Jake Harker. Jake is just a man, but his words and deeds make the reader a believer. I laughed, I cried, I bit my nails, and I sighed as I entered the Outlaw world once again.
This historical family saga continues late into the lives of Jake and Randy, their grown children and precocious grandchildren with this third installment of the Outlaw series that really should be read in order to get the full experience.
Jake and his family have settled in Colorado on their own 50,000 acre spread. Lloyd is his partner and they are grooming the younger generation to take over. Life is good for the Harkers and their hands. Randy loves seeing Jake have the life he has earned through hard efforts to reform and be the man she loves. But Jake can’t understand what others see in him or why his beautiful wife, children and grandchildren can love him.
Jake may be pushing sixty, but he is still not a man to be trifled with whether it is a band of rustlers, a puffed up state prosecutor out to nail him to the wall, or conniving bitter men bent on exacting a deadly revenge against Jake and Lloyd.
Unfortunately, the west is changing and Jake and Lloyd must change with it if they wish to remain free and on the right side of the law. Trouble comes to the Harkers and brings back the fearful days of Oklahoma when death shadowed them and the law might not be enough to protect the family. In a moment, Jake is faced with an awful situation and his old steely-eyed self leaps into action. Randy and the family fear what will happen now as Jake faces the threat of prison or hanging. Old friends come to support them and do what they can, but will it be enough?
Alright, this was a fantastic read from cover to cover. It was an ode to the Harkers- a love fest that I was happy to indulge in for the most part. The book is slow through several parts, but it is varied with intense internal conflict and the excitement and danger of exterior conflict. It builds to not one, but a few big climax moments with the reader left holding her breath and flipping pages quickly.
Jake and Randy are at the heart of this story, but the scope has widened to include Lloyd and Katie and Evie and Brian, Jeff and Peter, along with the older grandchildren. Their story is all one. The line from Jake to Lloyd to Little Jake to show how each generation carries on the Harkers was clearly made.
The past having bearing on the present and how each character handles it is a strong thematic element. Jake is racked with guilt and feelings that he doesn’t deserve anything good. Randy fights the fear that Jake will leave and not come back to her. Evie and Brian have faced down the terrors from her rape. Lloyd must learn to forgive himself for long ago deserting the family. The author paints her characters with flaws as well as strengths.
The western history aspect of the story was strong and supported the romance and action plot. The author portrayed the latter years of the 1800s in Colorado, ranch life, and changes in the law and society well. There were hard hitting situations and elements. Outlaws, whores, city folk, law officers, ranchers, and more wove through the story offering color and scope.
All in all, I was enthralled and wanted nothing more than to remain in the world of the Harkers. I’m so glad there is to be one more book for sure. Those who love sagas and Western romance really need to treat themselves to this series and this author’s books.
My thanks to Sourcebooks Casablanca for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
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