Judith’s review of An Outlaw’s Christmas by Linda Lael Miller
With his wild heart, Sawyer McKettrick isn’t ready to settle down on the Triple M family ranch in Arizona. So he heads to Blue River, Texas, to seek a job as marshal. But in a blinding snowstorm he’s injured—and collapses into the arms of a prim and proper lady in calico.The shirtless, bandaged stranger recuperating in teacher Piper St. James’s room behind the schoolhouse says he’s a McKettrick, but he looks like an outlaw. As they wait out the storm, the handsome loner has Piper remembering long-ago dreams of marriage and motherhood. But for how long is Sawyer willing to call Blue River home?
As the gray skies clear, Piper’s one holiday wish just might bring two lonely hearts together forever.
Yes it is a quintessential Linda Lael Miller book; yes, it’s set in the Old West and reeks of the culture and social norms of the 19th century; yes, it’s got a ruggedly handsome and hard-riding cowboy as its hero, one who has experienced just about everything a man on the move can experience; no, there are not dark and erotic scenes here, but wait! It’s a Christmas story, for gosh sakes, and as such it is a wonderful, readable, and heart-strings-pulling tale that brings in all the good stuff we all prize about this wonderful season.
It’s not your usual love story because the prim and proper school teacher and the hard body cowboy don’t fall madly in lust. In fact, theirs is a story filled with fear and resentment, concern for her reputation and worry over whether Sawyer will even survive his wound. It is a story that has some mystery around its edges, but it is filled with characters that are real and some who you wish didn’t ever have to live to make others miserable. There’s the brothel madam who is raising her daughter with love and caring and in spite of her “fallen” status in the community, insists that her daughter have the best of everything she can provide, including the never-failing love of a mother. In fact, the scenes where that particular mother’s love is most demonstrated are some of the most emotional in the whole book. There is the dentist who is the only health care professional in the town, who every once in awhile re-affirms that he is a dentist and not a doctor, but who never fails to respond to a call for care. How he handles his witch-on-wheels wife is cute, too. There is Sawyer’s family who stand by Piper no matter what. There are others in the town of Blue River who are special in every way, and there is the joy of a beautiful holiday that is seen by readers through the eyes of the children who are worried that the blizzard will wipe out their Christmas performance.
This is a delightful holiday story filled with warm fuzzies and a love story that is as slow growing as winter grass. Yet it is built on respect and the realization that inner beauty is quite possibly the most valuable commodity a person can possess and little Piper St. James has it in spades. It’s a book that will warm your heart, entertain your mind, and be deeply satisfying. We all love the intense and erotic. We do, after all, love romance fiction. But every once in a while a story comes along that keeps us looking at love from a different perspective and this is one of those stories.
I give it rating of 4 out of 5
You can read more from Judith at Dr J’s Book Place.