If Cozette Camanez's groom doesn't show up for their wedding by dawn, she'll lose her family ranch. Trouble is, the groom doesn't exist—until unsuspecting thief Michael Hughes comes along. Never was an outlaw faced with such a lovely—and willing—target. . .The Give Me A Texas Outlaw anthology with Jodi Thomas, Linda Broday, Phyliss Miranda and DeWanna Pace is a book that was on my radar for a few reasons. First, hmmm.... cowboys! It's about cowboys, but not just any cowboys, it's outlaws finding their happily ever after. Everybody knows I love that combination!
Larissa Patrick, the beautiful daughter of a wealthy rancher, has been kidnapped. Only one man can save her: gunfighter Johnny Diamond. Rescuing Larissa is the easy part—but getting her home without losing his heart will take the discipline of a saint. And Johnny's no saint. . .
Lawman Ethan Kimble is finally face to face with his quarry: socialite and bank robber Savannah Parker. The only thing between them is a Winchester pointed at his heart—and some undeniable sparks. If Kimble can tame the Texas Flame, they may ignite a passion that breaks every rule. . .
When outlaw Shadow Rivers and desperado Odessa Kilmore escape a hail of bullets and team up on a long journey, both are determined to hide their secrets—and their attraction. No easy task as they discover a love more powerful than their enemies combined. . .
In the first story, The Outlaw by Jodi Thomas, Cozette is in big trouble. After a man betrays her trust, she finds herself pregnant and lies to her dying father. Cozette's elaborate lies about a husband who is meeting her soon result in high expectations of a real wedding at the ranch. On the morning of the wedding Michael holds up Cozette at the church as his three uncles steal the wedding gifts and get caught. They make a deal, Michael will marry her and stay until her father dies, and she'll save his three bumbling uncles from hanging.
I loved this story by Ms. Thomas. This is a short novella, but it has all the ingredients I love in a western romance: a villain to fight, secondary characters that are memorable, a romance that focuses on the main protagonists with a female who, although in need of saving, is strong enough to fight in her own way, and a male protagonist who is protective, strong, tender and passionate. The Outlaw is sensual, as a tender and passionate Michael seduces Cozette, and himself, into love. Grade: B+
Trouble in Petticoats by Linda Broday, takes place on the road as Larissa Patrick stubbornly follows the outlaw her father pays to rescue her kidnapped sister Beth. Larissa is the daughter of a wealthy and ruthless rancher, and Johnny Diamond is a man who makes a living using his Colt. They have five days to rescue Beth before a ransom has to be paid, and throughout a desperate trek through a sandstorm, hails of bullets, and dangerous confrontations with the villains, Johnny and Larissa find they have lots in common, including a burning attraction for each other. One note, the blurb provided for this novella is misleading, Larissa is not kidnapped, she rides to her sister's rescue.
There's a lot of western style action and danger in this story: shootouts, sandstorms, and villains left and right. However, Broday makes sure that her protagonists get to know each other in this short novella as they ride to Beth's rescue. Sexual tension prevails throughout although the romantic scenes between Johnny and Larissa are few and true to the circumstances in the story. Grade B-
In Texas Flame by Phyllis Miranda, outlaw Savannah Parker is tracked down by lawman Ethan Kimble after she robs her father's bank and then goes on a spree throughout Texas with the Texas Flame gang. He finds her protecting a young man whose thought process seems to be impaired. Savannah and Ethan have known and loved each other since childhood, but being on opposite sides of the law makes this reunion a tough one, especially since their feelings for each other have not changed.
Miranda's contribution to this anthology is a friends to lovers story, with a female outlaw and a male lawman, making this was a different read from the other novellas. The past history between the protagonists ensures that the romance is believable. However the rest of the story, although filled with western style action, felt a bit convoluted with stop and go dialogue between the protagonists, as well as misunderstandings. It is obvious that this novella is part of a series and that reading about those other characters and/or stories would make Texas Flame complete. Grade C
Most Wanted by DeWanna Pace is a novella that I found quite amusing and that fit the western style romance perfectly. In Odessa Kilmore, we have a reluctant female outlaw who ran away from home after "stealing" money from a couple. Desperate to get home but with bounty hunters on her trail, she needs a fast gun to help her and finds one in Shadow Rivers, a legendary gunman who is tired of it all and is ready to retire. He is also being trailed, and the question is which of the two is most wanted. As they embark on a perilous journey as husband and wife, these two have to fight villains, dodge bullets and the urge to keep their hands off each other.
I liked Des (Odessa) and Shadow... their adventure was thrilling in a western style and amusingly sensual. Poor Shadow found himself in a bit of a pickle with a rather outspoken, sensual and innocent Des, a madam for a future mama-in-law, and well... you'll have to read the story to find out. Sexual tension is used throughout the story, and the romance is not short changed while the adventure takes place in all its western glory. A highly enjoyable western romance novella by Ms. Pace. Grade: B+
One last comment: I love, love the book cover!
Category: Historical Romance
Series: Western Anthology
Publisher/Release Date: Zebra - July 1, 2011
Source: Kensington Publishing
Grade for Anthology: B
Give Me A Texan
Give Me A Cowboy
Give Me A Texas Ranger
Give Me A Texas Outlaw
A Texas Christmas - Releasing October 4, 2011