3.75/5.0 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 enjoyed3.75/5.0 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.
3.75/5.0 stars I originally picked up If I Wait For You by Jane Goodger because the settings looked particularly interesting. Part of the story takes p3.75/5.0 stars I originally picked up If I Wait For You by Jane Goodger because the settings looked particularly interesting. Part of the story takes place in a whaling ship and the other in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and of course that made this historical romance different enough to draw me like a magnet.
Captain West Mitchell takes Sara Dawes aboard his ship as his make-believe wife after she almost dies in his arms. She's sister to his third mate and has been forced to flee New Bedford, Massachusetts after having been wrongly accused of murdering her parents and setting fire to their home. Since West is already engaged and an honorable man, he figures sharing his cabin with Sara won't be a hardship. That changes quickly when sharing close quarters and Sara’s beauty unexpectedly trigger dishonorable thoughts. In the meantime, Sara can't believe that she's sharing space with a man she has admired for years, but no matter all the day dreaming, she knows that he's only keeping her aboard his ship on sufferance, and that his heart will never belong to her. Or will it?
This is one of those romances that takes years to reach the happy ever after and a final resolution to all the different threads -- a whole three years. I love the sexual tension that Goodger uses to build up the relationship between Sara and West while they are on the whaling ship. Sara's relationship with the crew, the whaling details, and the adventures they all share are part of what makes this a wonderful read. Later, the story moves to New Bedford where we meet Sara again after she has become part of society, and where the mystery of her parent's murders are finally solved.
The romance and main characters did not quite win me over, though. There's a push and pull that, although great at the beginning, goes on for way too long. West and Sara both play a game where neither will admit to themselves, never mind to each other, that they love the other when it's plainly obvious that they do. West becomes frustrating during their shared voyage, while Sara is frustrating in the extreme once West returns to New Bedford and the two are reunited after a few years apart. During those years apart Sara supposedly grew up, unfortunately her actions rarely show maturity and she uses West's younger brother in a way that was tough to appreciate.
If I Wait For You by Jane Goodger is an enjoyable historical romance with an excellent setting. It also has that 'old style' historical atmosphere with wonderful details that I so enjoy (particular to this story: the whaling and seafaring life details), a sea voyage with a great crew as secondary characters, and excellent sexual tension that is used to build up intimacy between the protagonists. However, at times the main characters are not necessarily sympathetic and the plot devices utilized to drive the romance somewhat overdone, making this a mixed bag read for me.
As a side note, If I Wait For You is self-published, so expect a few of those pesky editing errors along the way. It is also the prequel to Jared's romance, *Gifts from the Sea, a backlist release by Goodger that is currently out of print. However, per the author, look for a release in ebook format in the future. Jared is West's older brother and one of the most intriguing secondary characters appearing in this book. I’m looking forward to reading his romance. ...more
I finished Purgatory: A Novel of the Civil War by Jeff Mann. Yes, I read this book yesterday (the Kindle edition. I'm still waiting for the print editI finished Purgatory: A Novel of the Civil War by Jeff Mann. Yes, I read this book yesterday (the Kindle edition. I'm still waiting for the print edition to arrive so I can pet the gorgeous cover, but couldn't wait to read it), and it was worth it.
The other novellas that I read during the week were also by Jeff Mann. I re-read some the short stories from his Lambda Award winning collection A History of Barbed Wire, and read his novella "Camp Allegheny" from the anthology History's Passions edited by Richard Labonte which I've had ever since it released back in November 2011. Reading both the novella and re-reading some of the short stories served as a refresher in Mann's style before reading his latest release, Purgatory.
Purgatory: A Novel of the Civil War (Bear Bones Books, 2012) turned out to be terrific blend of historical fiction and BDSM erotic romance. Jeff Mann has studied American Civil War history -- I think he eats it for breakfast, lunch and dinner along with some of that excellent Southern cooking he loves -- and in Purgatory the reader can smell and taste war, as well as the hatred, desperation, hunger, and even the ambivalence that the soldiers in this story experience in camp or on the run as they march toward Purgatory Mountain.
I love that aspect of Mann's writing, just as I absolutely appreciate the fact that he is the one author that can really make me understand why his characters need to be part of the gay BDSM bear sub-culture. He is part of this community, and his own passion and understanding for it comes forth clearly and powerfully through the pages of this novel, as well as to all his previous works. I love the unabashed passion he conveys for both the gay bear sub-culture and for his Southern roots.
But coming back to Purgatory, Mann blends aspects of BDSM seamlessly in this novel. I wondered how he would approach it in a realistic way because of the historical setting and was not disappointed. Instead of forcing the issue, Mann beautifully uses the historical setting as a platform to develop this aspect of the story. He does a terrific job of separating and showing the reader the differences between torture and the passionate, erotic, and loving aspects of BDSM. I was particularly taken with his rendering of the captive's character. Understanding his motivations as the submissive in this story is key and Mann makes certain this is unquestionably clear to the reader. Kudos all around.
Besides the highly recommended Purgatory, and the other stories I mention above, if you're interested in reading and understanding a bit more about Jeff Mann and his writings, I strongly recommend that you also read Binding the God: Ursine Essays from the Mountain South.
ETA: If you are squeamish, this book is not for you.
My Wicked Little Lies by Victoria Alexander is an amusing, witty historical romance with lovely central and secondary characters. The main couple is hMy Wicked Little Lies by Victoria Alexander is an amusing, witty historical romance with lovely central and secondary characters. The main couple is happily married and very much in love with each other. Yet, their lives are also full of secrets that lead to misunderstandings, lack of trust, impulsive actions and hurt feelings.
I enjoyed this book for the "game of love" that takes place between the two main characters. There's much to be said about the way in which Ms. Alexander made this story work by taking two married people who love each other deeply, and basically just need to reinforce that one very important truth to each other. The romance is also quite well integrated with the "spy" storyline, actually it can be said that one cannot be separated from the other. That is how well integrated it is. Very well done! And, the secondary characters in this story add sexual tension (as in the case of Max and Celeste), or family atmosphere (as in the extensive Hadley-Attwater family), without taking the focus away from the main couple.
Was this book a perfect read for me? No. There are a few niggles here and there, the pace slows down somewhat through the middle of the story, and there's some question about lack of sexual tension between the two main characters. However overall, this is a solid book that I recommend as a delightful historical romance read....more