Review: Outlaw Hearts by Rosanne Bittner

outlaw heartsReviewed by Jen

When I picked up this book, I had no idea it was a re-release from more than 20 years ago, but if I hadn’t caught the copyright date, I feel quite sure I would have recognized something was amiss anyway.  This book has a ton of 5 star reviews and it does have some good things to recommend it. But it’s way too long and in many ways, it felt antiquated. As a result, I liked parts of it and appreciated the overall vibe, but I got restless at several points of the story.

This book is more than 500 pages and spans more than 20 years.  It follows the love story and relationship between the outlaw Jake Harkner and the loyal, beautiful woman who helped him turn his life around with her love.  The two meet under unlikely circumstances as Miranda shoots Jake out of fear, then nurses him back to health. She falls in love with him in no time flat (seriously, like no time) …despite his deeply ingrained belief that he is no good and unworthy of her affection.

Their lives take many twists and turns, from a search for her brother, to running from the old crew now gunning for Jake; trying to escape the law and reinventing themselves over and over again. You’d think it would be enough to keep the story moving, but the same theme repeats through every problem. They hit a bump. Jake blames his sorry past. He wants to run away and give up. Miranda coaxes him back from the brink. Rinse and repeat.

I love a hero who doesn’t think he’s good enough for his heroine. It is my all time favorite trope. But it got old after hundreds and hundreds of pages.  You would think that the man would eventually come to terms with the fact that his wife loves him more than life. You would think that he would learn that when he leaves her alone, she suffers. You would think those things, but you would be wrong.

Then there are the love scenes, which are so very filled with euphemisms it’s laughable at times.  My personal favorite was when the author kept referring to lady parts as a “love nest,” followed closely by likening a man’s ejaculation to putting his “life” inside his partner.  I feel like it’s a product of its time.  I can’t fault it for that, but it’s kind of hard to get into the scenes when I am too busy rolling my eyes.

There is a lot of heavy handed foreshadowing. I like breadcrumbs, but don’t hit me over the head with an anvil.  Every time Jake warned Miranda he was afraid and she swore the past wouldn’t catch up with them, you were just waiting for it to blow up. Or when she kept ruminating on what a bad idea it was to hide Jake’s past from their kids. Or how he kept saying the worst thing he could think of was seeing shame in his son’s eyes. They were all flashing signs that screamed “danger ahead.”

Plus, their son was a total prat.

Despite all this, I can see the draw.  In spite of his frequent dips in morose-ville, Jake is a good man and he loves and respects his wife in a way that cannot be denied. And while Miranda skates through too-goo-to-be-true-land, she is exactly the heroine he needs to turn his life around. I think the book as a whole is more enjoyable than the sum of its parts.  I just might have enjoyed it more as two books or a heavily edited version of the one.

Just my opinion. A lot of people loved it just as it is.

Rating: B-

*ARC provided by publisher

Click to purchase: Amazon

Outlaw Hearts
by Rosanne Bittner
ReRelease Date: June 2, 2015
Original Release Date: February 1, 1993
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

Comments

  1. “Love nest” is a new one for me! It makes me think of a bird nest, which is dry and brittle and full of sticks, so then I project that into a woman, and suddenly it’s not a very good metaphor 😉

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