Someday you may read a fascinating account of rape and subsequent emotional healing, which could occur in Wyoming in the 1880's and involve an interesting mixture of frontier personages including hostile Indians, religious fanatics, and small-town bigots. Although Connie Mason includes all these elements in To Tame a Renegade, her book is a sleeper not a keeper.
However, if you are a diehard Mason fan who has read and enjoyed the prequel, To Love a Stranger, you may want to read this book which is the second in her Delaney trilogy.
Sarah Temple was the impressionable sixteen-year-old daughter of a minister in Carbon, Wyoming, when she met spoiled, smooth-talking Freddie Jackson. She found him attractive and agreed to meet him secretly in the barn behind her parents' house. Freddie brutalized Sarah, then abruptly left town. Sarah told no one about the attack out of consideration for his elderly parents but months later had to admit to being pregnant. Her parents did not believe she had been raped, labeled her a whore and disowned her. The bright spot in this horrible tale is Abner, Sarah's five-year-old son.
Sarah and Abner live in Shantytown on the edge of Carbon, where she ekes out a living by taking in laundry. One day, havoc and upheaval arrive at Sarah's door in the person of Chad Delaney. After his efforts to save his older brother from vigilantes led to four deaths, Chad turned his back on his family and has been working as a bounty hunter for two years.
Chad arrives in Carbon on the trail of none-other than Freddie Jackson, who has a large bounty on his head as the result of a string of bank robberies. Chad encounters Abner trying to defend himself against some youngsters taunting him about his illegitimacy and his mother. He helps Abner, but accepts at face value the accusations that Sarah is a whore. I found this attitude offensive, despite the author's effort to rationalize his ongoing distrust of Sarah. Whatever his experience in book one, the author did not convince me Chad was anything other than thickheaded. And unfortunately, he never resurrects himself.
After rescuing Abner and taking him home, Chad causes Sarah to fall into a tub of burning-hot water causing severe injury to her arms and hands. She thus begins her relationship with Chad, bandaged and unable to care for herself.
Soon, Freddie has an attack of conscience. He decides to stop in Carbon and discovers that Sarah has had a child. He quickly confirms that Abner is his and proceeds to kidnap Abner. Sarah steals a broken-down nag from her only friends, her dirt-poor neighbors, to pursue Freddie and Abner.
The storyline worsens – more kidnappings, attempted rapes, blizzards, epidemics, beatings, etc. – as the plot thickens. The characters are flat and static. Chad constantly questions whether he may or may not have a conscience. Many twists and turns in the story made absolutely no sense and undermined whatever sympathy I might have been developing for a character. Despite the tormented hero's having turned his back on the family-ranch, when Chad has a cash crunch, he goes to a local bank and draws on the family funds. Though her five-year old son has no knowledge of his grandparents, Sarah insists he meet her fanatically religious parents in order to introduce Abner to them before departing Carbon with Chad.
Connie Mason's note at the end of this book indicates the final book in this trilogy, To Tempt a Rogue, youngest brother Ryan's story, will be available next fall. I will not be looking for it.