A Dime Novel Hero

Mail-Order Bride

Untamed Hero

 
Outlaw’s Bride by Maureen McKade
(Avon, $5.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-380-81566-4
****
Clint Beaudry made a pit stop in Green Valley, Colorado only to have the owner of the local boardinghouse refuse to give him a room. Mattie St. Clair knew a hired gunman when she saw one and Clint was too tall, dark and dangerous looking to be anything but. Giving up, Clint camps out for the night in the woods behind Mattie’s house, only to be shot by the man he was tracking down.

Mattie’s 10 year son, Andy, and her hired man, Herman, discover Clint back shot and take him home. The town doctor has to go to a neighboring settlement because of flu epidemic, so he leaves Clint with Mattie.

Clint is not happy to be laid up. The man who shot him was also one who raped and murdered his wife, Emily. A U.S. Marshal at the time, Clint has been racked with guilt ever since, because he wasn’t home at the time to protect her. He made a promise to find the man responsible, but now is in too much pain to get out of bed, much less on his horse. Besides that, Mattie is as stubborn as a mule and watches him like a hawk.

Mattie was married to the town’s sheriff when his inexperience and short fuse got him killed. Widowed for 10 years, she makes ends meet by taking in laundry and boarders. She vehemently hates guns, and is more than a little overprotective of her son, the only person she has left in this world. She despises everything she thinks Clint stands for, and even though the two soon find themselves attracted to each other, they find that promises stand in their way. Clint is unable to break the promise he made to find his wife’s killer and Mattie is unwilling to fall in love with a man who lives by the gun.

Outlaw’s Bride is standard western fare that is sure to be a real crowd-pleaser. Mattie and Clint sizzle on the page, both of them exuding some heavy sexual tension. They both are lonely and drawn to each other, but their pride and mutually stubbornness keeps them from acknowledging how much they need one another.

Mattie’s first husband was killed before they could even finish the honeymoon. In her youth, she believed herself in love with Jason, but she was more in love with the idea of being needed. By the time she was eight, both of her parents were dead, and Mattie found herself in an orphanage. When Jason came along with all of his sweet talk, she quickly tumbled into bed with him and was just as quickly rushed to the altar.

Clint was more in love with his job than his first wife, and he believes his reluctance to quit led to her death. Guilt ridden, he doesn’t care whether or not he lives through the manhunt. While he’s immediately drawn to Mattie, he is unwilling to give up his search, believing that it is the only way he can do right by Emily now that she is gone.

McKade includes some nicely drawn secondary characters in Andy, Herman and Amelia, a local woman with a past. Children in romance have always been hit or miss characters for me, and the author’s depiction of a 10 year old desperate to be seen as a grown-up, but smothered by his overprotective mother, rings true.

My only minor complaint with this otherwise enjoyable western, was the fact that Mattie later suspects Clint of having an affair with Amelia, which just boggled my mind. The man is recovering from a gun shot wound, and doesn’t leave the house until page 150, how the heck could he carry on an affair?

Aside from that, Outlaw’s Bride is a tried and true story sure to please western buffs. McKade’s ability to write likeable and wounded characters will undoubtedly win her more fans and a loyal following. I know I’ll be picking up her books in the future.

--Wendy Crutcher


@ Please tell us what you think! back Back Home