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review 2017-08-21 21:45
Outlaw Hearts by Rosanne Bittner
Outlaw Hearts - Rosanne Bittner

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I really enjoyed this epic story! When I started reading this book, I really didn't expect the story to be quite as big as it turned out to be. This book doesn't cover just a year or two of Jake and Miranda's life. No, this is a book that covers decades and by the time it is over you want to spend more time with them. Since this is the first book in the series, that works out well for me.

This story is about Jake and Miranda. Jake is an outlaw and is wanted by the authorities. He actually has quite a sizable price on his head. Miranda became a widow at a young age when her new husband was killed during the Civil War. Miranda's father is killed by a group of outlaws just before the story begins. An unexpected string of events puts this pair together and they realize that they actually enjoy each other's company.

The scope of this story is amazing. It starts out in Kansas but then goes all the way to California and back during a period in time when this area could be quite dangerous and rather wild. I really enjoyed all of the descriptions of the travels and settling in these different areas throughout the story. There is something about the old west that I find really interesting. The conditions were harsh at times and there seemed to be danger everywhere you looked.

I really liked that we get to see so much of Jake and Miranda's life in this story. Learning Jake's backstory really helps in understanding how his life unfolded in the way it has. I really enjoyed watching them meet and get to know each other. I enjoyed watching their relationship grow over time. Jake never seem to believe that he deserves Miranda but she refuses to give up on him. She proves that she wants nothing more than to be with him at any cost several times during the course of this story.

I would recommend this book to anyone that enjoys an epic romance. I started the book out liking Jake and Miranda but by the time it was over I had fallen completely in love with them. I can't wait to read more of this amazing series!

Initial Thoughts
Wow! This was a much more epic story than I thought it would be. It doesn't cover just a year or two but a big chunk of time. I liked the characters from the beginning but by the end I had fallen in love with them.

Book source: Purchased

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review 2017-08-20 13:14
Review: Emma and the Outlaw (Orphan Train #2) by Linda Lael Miller
Emma And The Outlaw - Linda Lael Miller

The cover attached to this review is for the original book, published in 1991. I read the 2014 reprint.

 

Emma Chalmers is a seven year old girl who, along with her two sisters Caroline and Lucy, are sent on the orphan train by their biological mother at the request of the mother's newest lover. Caroline is adopted first, leaving Emma and Lucy to continue on the train west. Emma is adopted by a woman who is hoping to get a free domestic servant for her household and possible sexual servant for her husband. Lucy continues on the train west. Emma is rescued at the train station by Chloe, a brother. and saloon owner who wanted a daughter and paid off the vile woman. Emma ends up in a nice home and has a good upbringing.

 

Chloe decides to open up a public lending library so Emma has a job after coming home from normal school (teachers' college). Even though Emma loves and defends Chloe, Emma also wants respectability. She feels her life is stained twice over with a biological mother who was weak for men and brandy and being the daughter of the local madam. Hence her courtship with Fulton Whitney, the banker; yet he leaves her cold. Emma hasn't given up on the dream of re-connecting with her sisters.

 

One day, a drunk decides to celebrate his birthday by bringing a stick of dynamite into another saloon and an explosion leaves many saloon patrons injured. One of those patrons is Steven Fairfax, a former Confederate soldier and an outlaw wanted in his home state of Louisiana. Chloe takes Steven into her home so that he can heal; Emma does nurse him back to health in between shifts at the library. There is a lot of lust from Steven's side already. A few days of nursing and they are having make out sessions. Steven decides to stay in Whitneyville and court Emma, Fulton be damned. Emma decides to play Steven against Fulton so she can be rid of both of them, but ends up falling for Steven.

 

Once the sex starts between Steven and Emma it doesn't stop. EVERY CHAPTER after Steven takes Emma's v-card in a field of daisies has at least one sex scene. Steven really likes Emma's breasts;  so much nipple sucking and licking. Seriously after a while, the sex scenes were just repetitive nonsense.

 

Macon, Steven's half-brother and technically the real villain (although Fulton gives that role a real shot), is searching for Steven so he can bring Steven back to New Orleans to stand trial for the murder of Dirk (Macon's bastard son) and Mary McCall (Dirk's lover who wanted Steven....it's complicated). Macon uses Emma to get to Steven; they travel back to New Orleans, more family secrets are discovered, Macon repeatedly promises that he will rape Emma over and over again after Steven is hanged for his crimes, Macon actually attempts to rape Emma while the rest of the family is at Steven's trial, Lucy (Macon's wife) mental illness....Old skool romance crazy sauce is HIGH in this book. Being a romance, the true killer is found, Steven is cleared of all charges, Emma has a baby, finds one of her sisters, and Macon takes off for Europe.

 

Daisy, the African-American cook and house cleaner that works in Chloe's household is the only POC character that is treated with respect. The Fairfax plantation owners treat it's household help as if blacks were still slaves. Emma is the only one to show any respect for the workers. A few black characters are physically described by their hair and size/whiteness of their teeth. The black servants of other households in New Orleans were also given a crappy hand; the one black servant to the McCall family goes home to her husband who is the epitome of black angry man and abuser. And then there is this gem, courtesy of Lucy Fairfax:

 

"Please tell Miss McCall that Mrs. Macon Fairfax and Mrs. Steven Fairfax have come to pay a visit," Lucy said in a business-like tone that belied her odd ways. "And kindly don't leave us standing out here in the midday sun while you dillydally."

The woman hurried away, and Lucy turned to Emma and confided "You must be firm with people of color. After being told what to do for so long, they can't always be trusted to reason for themselves." (pg. 305)

 

It was at that moment that the book became intimately acquainted with the wall opposite my reading chair. Reminder: this book was published in 1991.....not 1891. Memo to publishers/authors: before reprinting old romances, revise/update/edit the fuck out some shit that you got away with earlier, for modern readers are going to red flag that shit. Between the racism and the constant verbal rape threats/real sexual assaults by Macon and Fulton on Emma, I started to become sick and couldn't wait for the book to end (I was curious about the killer's identity).

 

Maybe it's just bad timing reading this book after the IRL events of the last couple of weeks, but the bitterness held by the Southern characters over the Civil War was the last thing that I needed. Not a book I can recommend.

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text 2017-08-18 20:29
Friday Reads - August 18, 2017
Emma And The Outlaw - Linda Lael Miller
Secret Agent Under Fire (Silver Valley P.D.) - Geri Krotow
[(Butterfly Swords)] [By (author) Jeannie Lin] published on (October, 2010) - Jeannie Lin
The Dragon and the Pearl - Jeannie Lin
The Sword Dancer - Jeannie Lin
A Dance with Danger (Rebels and Lovers) - Jeannie Lin
The Bootlegger's Daughter (Daughters of the Roaring Twenties) - Lauri Robinson

The calendar might say it is still summer, but the English weather is definitely mid-October like. This upcoming week is the last COYER read-a-thon for summer and Bout of Books cycle 20. So my plan this weekend is to get two print books done before putting aside the rest until the read-a-thon is over or I run out of e-books. In non-reading plans, this weekend will be back to school shopping and going through the kids closets so I can donate/hand me down clothes and know what they need. Ten days to first day of school!

 

Here's my list for the weekend/week ahead:

1. Emma and the Outlaw (Orphan Train #2) by Linda Lael Miller - 41% read

    I'm in a puzzle with this book; on one hand, I am not feeling the MCs and on the other hand, I am sort of interested in the plotline. The heroine is playing a dangerous game with both the hero and the villain, but she is decent otherwise. The hero is a former Confederate soldier (why am I reading this right now??), hoping for the South to rise again and who does not understand, nor respect, the heroine's boundaries (oh hi early 90s historical romance *waves hand*). I won't be reading the other two books in the series.

 

2. Secret Agent Under Fire by Geri Krotow - 15% read

    I would have gotten this book done already if it weren't for the bitchy heroine. Again, pacing issues.

 

3. Butterfly Swords by Jeannie Lin - 12% read

    I started this book in mid-July. The slowest pace of a book. Something please happen soon! This book is the first in the series, so I am forcing myself to finish it so I can understand what is going on in the later books. I could really use a dose of Li Bai Shen right about now.

 

4. The Bootlegger's Daughter by Lauri Robinson - 12% read

    I started this book in mid-July, after Butterfly Swords lulled me to sleep. I am not feeling either hero, the heroine, or the plot. I'll give it to 30%; if it doesn't move the plot or the characters get better, it is going into the DNF pile.

 

5. The Dragon and the Pearl by Jeannie Lin

 

6. The Sword Dancer by Jeannie Lin

 

7. A Dance with Danger by Jeannie Lin

 

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review 2017-08-18 16:41
INNOCENT & THE OUTLAW-OUTLA_PB - Harper St. George

Emmaline Drake is the step-daughter of a bank robber and the daughter of a former prostitute. She's currently working as a barmaid when she meets Hunter Jameson and she knows that he's trouble.  This is proved when he kidnaps her to exchange her for his step-brother's life.  She eventually escapes back to the brothel where she was born determined to forge a better life for herself and her step-sisters. The only commodity she has is her virginity which she decides to auction off, not expecting that Hunter will be her highest bidder.  Can they overcome the roadblocks on the way to love?

 

Interesting but somehow underwhelming.

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text 2017-08-01 12:00
August 2017 Reading List
A Promise by Daylight (Hqn) - Alison DeLaine
Falling for the Enemy - Naomi Rawlings
Secret Agent Under Fire (Silver Valley P.D.) - Geri Krotow
Emma And The Outlaw - Linda Lael Miller
Mission of Hope (Love Inspired Historical) - Allie Pleiter

COYER continues until September 8th, so my list will last until then. I'm having a hard time getting into the Jeannie Lin books; the pacing is just too slow for my taste. The Bootlegger's Daughter has a heroine who is an entitled twit and I can't stand her. I am not ready to throw in the towel just yet with these books, but I may wait until I get other books done before tackling them.

 

I am looking forward to reading longer romances (A Promise in Daylight and Emma and the Outlaw), a category romance set during the Reign of Terror/French Revolution (Falling for the Enemy), a category romance written by a fellow military vet and military spouse (Special Agent Under Fire) and the last Allie Pleiter book (Mission of Hope) I have in my personal library.

 

The last Twitter party for COYER is Sunday, August 27th at 4pm EST; the last read-a-thon (ebooks and audiobooks only) is August 20th-27th, which is the same dates for Bout of Books Cycle 20. There is also an COYER Instagram photo challenge that starts today and runs through the 31st.

 

The most important date for me right now is August 28th - first day of school! My little boy is a first-grader!

 

August Reads:

1. A Dance with Danger by Jeannie Lin

2. Butterfly Swords by Jeannie Lin

3. The Dragon and the Pearl by Jeannie Lin

4. The Sword Dancer by Jeannie Lin

5. The Bootlegger's Daughter by Lauri Robinson

6. Christian Seaton: Duke of Danger by Carole Mortimer

7. A Promise by Daylight by Alison DeLaine

8. Falling for the Enemy by Naomi Rawlings

9. The Soldier's Secrets by Naomi Rawlings

10. Killer Countdown by Amelia Autin

11. Love, Special Delivery by Melinda Curtis

12. Secret Agent Under Fire by Geri Krotow

13. Emma and the Outlaw by Linda Lael Miller

14. Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic by Meghan Doidge

15. Mission of Hope by Allie Pleiter

16. Her Holiday Family by Winnie Griggs

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