Wednesday, June 20, 2012

TBR Review: Logan's Outlaw (Men of Defiance #4) by Elaine Levine

Confident and coolheaded, nothing shakes a Man of Defiance—except a woman he can’t resist...

Sarah Hawkins survived capture by the Sioux, but after her escape she faced public scorn. Now, she’ll do anything to start over, and the dusty town of Defiance promises the anonymity and security she needs. Before she melts into the shadows, though, it’s her mission to put a great injustice to rights, and that means jeopardizing her safety once more.

But this time, she’s not alone. Without meaning to, Sarah has fallen under the protection of Logan Taggert, a rough-and-tumble trader unused to caring for others—and yet unable to ignore the tempting, tenacious woman’s plight. Though she refuses to trust him, Logan won’t leave her side, keeping her one step ahead of danger…even as she takes hold of the very thing he never thought he’d risk: his heart.
Logan's Outlaw by Elaine Levine is the fourth installment in the Men of Defiance series. I read Leah and the Bounty Hunter, Book 3 and enjoyed the "real, somewhat gritty western" atmosphere in that story, and plan on reading the complete series. Logan's Outlaw is a western romance with plenty of violence and events covering the not-so-pretty history of the West. This story takes place during the painful times when the Sioux Nation was in flux, when gold was found in the Black Hills, and while some tribes were left with little choice but to move to reservations, others fought to maintain their way of life.

The story begins with Sarah, a white woman who survived torture as the white captive of a Sioux chief. This beginning worried me a bit, I've read these types of books before (from the 70's and 80's) where Native Americans are often demonized or romanticized. However, pretty quickly I realized that in Logan's Outlaw, Levine goes out of her way to portray both sides of the story. I can't tell you how politically correct the book is, you'll have to decide that for yourself, I can say that it is apparent that Ms. Levine conducted research before writing this story and did not romanticize either side.

Through Sarah, Levine explores life in the aftermath of a surviving white captive who was tortured and married to a Sioux chief. Also through Sarah, the author addresses the subject of how land, when not gained through treaties, was taken through foul means. Through White Cloud and his people, Levine explores the wisdom of the culture and how deeply they were wronged, and through Chayton her exploration goes into the pain and loss of the plains people.

Logan is the linchpin in this story. His position as a trader allows him to straddle both sides, and he appreciates and experiences the pain from both sides. Actually Logan turns out to be the perfect knight for a woman like Sarah. He understands what she went through, has endless patience with her, and all the right connections and courage to save her from her Sioux husband and to protect her from white scorn. There were very few moments when Logan showed his flaws... and even then, his reasoning was quite human. I wondered a few times along the way if there are men out there with his kind of patience. As a fictional romance hero, though, he is just that... quite a hero.

The romance between Sarah and Logan serves as the central focus. When Logan meets Sarah at a coach stop, she is a wounded, traumatized soul. Logan takes one look at beautiful and haunted-looking Sarah and fearing that the coach leaving to Cheyenne is headed for danger, appoints himself her silent protector and joins the group on their journey. That journey is a harsh one. They are attacked by a band of Sioux warriors, their coach is burned and the passengers killed. Although Sarah and Logan survive through Logan's knowledge and brave cunning, their adventures through Cheyenne, Defiance, and eventually to the Circle Bar Ranch continue to be filled with danger.

Levine uses the journey and the different obstacles that Logan and Sarah encounter along the way, including persecution by some goons that are after Sarah, to develop their relationship and romance. When Sarah and Logan find out that she is wanted for forgery, Logan marries her and slowly but surely begins the process of helping Sarah heal from the terrible fears and horrible nightmares that plague her from her days as a captive. She doesn't believe she'll ever be able to have a normal relationship with a man again, and he's willing to have her on any terms as long as he can protect her. How can Sarah not fall in love with Logan?

There's nothing pretty about some of the violent scenes portrayed in this story. There are burned bodies, scalpings, and people are killed ruthlessly. There's no sparing a character for the sake of making this a pretty romance, even as the characters experience their happy moments. This is a warning for readers who cannot tolerate violence with their romance.

Levine's prose is not complex or lyrical, as a matter of fact I find it rather straight forward and easy to read and the dialog can be said to be awkward at times, however the plot carries the day in this romance. Levine handles Sarah's healing, the aftermath of being tortured and raped, quite well (those torture and rape scenes are not shown in the book). The action is there from beginning to end, with quiet, romantic moments in between where Sarah and Logan get to know each other. Logan's attraction is instant and more protective than passionate in the beginning with passion taking over later on in the story.

Logan's Outlaw, like Leah and the Bounty Hunter, is a gritty western with both central and secondary characters that are confronting seriously hurtful situations. In contrast, the romance is sweet and by the end of the story there's a sense that the love found by our couple will endure. A quick western historical romance read, full of action that might not be enjoyed by everyone.

Theme: Western Romance
June Review
Category: Historical Romance/Western
Series: Men of Defiance
Publisher/Released: Kensington/March 2012
Source: Kensington Books
Grade: B-

Visit Elaine Levine here.

Series:
Rachel and the Hired Gun
Audrey and the Maverick
Leah and the Bounty Hunter
Logan's Outlaw

8 comments:

  1. I was very close to picking up the first book in this series for the challenge this month. I ended up going with an author I've read before though - mostly because I started and stopped three books before landing on one that stuck.

    "did not romanticize either side"

    OMG - that. I love that in westerns when the author is dealing with Native characters and cultures. I've been burned one too many times by noble savages talking in New Age pyschobabble. Blah.

    This one sounds good - and I tend to really like gritty westerns. Adding to my shopping list.....

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    1. Wendy, I almost picked up the first book also and in the end chose this one instead. :) I'm glad I did, although I'm definitely going back to read that first book.

      It's interesting that although this story is well populated with Native Americans, the one who plays the visionary is Logan. Levine uses the fact that he is a trader to justify his understanding of what the present might mean to the future. As a matter of fact if anyone is romanticized in this novel, it is Logan (the trader and the man)... although quite human, he plays that fictional hero a tad too perfectly at times. I hope you enjoy it. :)

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  2. Can't believe I still haven't read this author. I have the first two books on the tbr pile but now I'm tempted to skip to this one. :)

    Great review Hils!

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    1. Leslie, that's interesting! I haven't read the first two books yet, only the last two of the series. LOL! Who knows? Maybe the first two are great too? I have to go back and read them. I'm liking this author. :)

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  3. This series sounds interesting and pretty intense, too. I guess Western romances almost have to be gritty like this.. it was a harsh time.

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    1. Christine, I agree. The two books I've read so far are rather intense and gritty. Unfortunately, not all western historical romances are this gritty these days. Most tend to be rather mild when it comes to violent scenes or depicting some of the realities of that time -- they tend to focus more on the romance and even when they do have scenes in the West and capture the atmosphere, most gloss over those pesky gritty details. I personally don't mind them, but I know a lot of readers do. :)

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  4. Didn't I comment on this review yet? I swear I did!

    LOL, in any case, I don't think this one is for me. But I can see a lover of western like you would enjoy it so much :) The gritty atmosphere and all. I like it more romanticized LOL.

    So are you going to go back and read the first books?

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    1. Nath, that happens to me with comments all the time!

      I definitely don't think this book is for you! We can't all like the same books, and this is one of those. :) And yes, I'm definitely going on to read the first books. I already purchased the first book and have it in my TBR. :D

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