Times have changed, and the old Wild West is becoming a place of civilized law and order, where men like Jake Harkner no longer seem to fit in. As a nod to the changing times, Jake has sworn to hang up his guns once and for all. In fact, he and his wife Randy are enjoying this new era of peace on their ranch...until Jake's embroiled in a rescue mission that he simply can't refuse―possibly his most dangerous yet. He rides into Mexico to save a young girl from a dreadful fate, leaving his beloved family behind, fearing he will die the same way he's always lived―by the gun.
A hard-hitting emotional read, gritty action, and above all, a decades long love affair that stands so many tests. The Outlaw Hearts series holds a solid place on my best of the best list and this latest, The Last Outlaw, was no exception.
While some of the books would work alright out of order, this one has the feeling of a culmination of all that came before it and references events from the previous book, Love’s Sweet Revenge. In fact, I’ll need to reference what happened in that one so there will be some mild series spoilers.
The Last Outlaw picks up several months after the dramatic finish of Love’s Sweet Revenge. Jake’s still on tenderhooks with the local law as civilization is taming the Wild West and shootouts are becoming rarer. Lloyd is healing from being shot and stepping up as son and partner on the ranch as in family affairs. Jake and the family are very worried because Randy isn’t recovering from her ordeal.
I thought the author handled her attack well. Randy is a quietly courageous woman and it was tough to see her struggling so badly with her fears and the dark feelings that come from being abused, but the struggle had to happen after the dark, horrific things that happened to her. She and Jake take turns being the strong one for each other. Jake was such a steadfast husband and lover. This pair may be in their autumn-winter years, but they are deeply in love and strongly passionate.
There was a big opening scene and then I loved how the story focused on the family and catching the reader up with them. Three generations of Harkners live on the ranch and its never dull for them. The characters in this series are engaging and I love them individually and together.
There are a few plot threads introduced- trouble with a disgruntled neighboring rancher, a missing girl taken in a human traffiking scheme, and past issues that build into a tempest later. Jake is really struggling with getting beyond his horrid earlier years and the peace he has now. Guilt and feelings of not deserving his new life threaten to overwhelm him. The internal struggles in this one were as compelling as the external ones. And yes, like other books by this author, this one did require tissues. These really grab my emotions with the humor, heartwarming, passion, and gritty battles.
The story flowed well and was a good blend of action and character plotting. It may be the end, but I am crossing my fingers that the author comes back to write more about new generations in the family and give peek-ins with Jake. I loved this historical western romance and can easily recommend it to others who love gripping family sagas, engaging characters, and passionate romance.
My thanks to Sourcebooks Casablanca for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
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