Book Review: An Outlaw’s Christmas by Linda Lael Miller

An Outlaw's Christmas (McKettricks, #16) An Outlaw’s Christmas (McKettricks #16) by Linda Lael Miller

Paperback

Review copy provided by publisher

Harlequin Mira, December 2012

 Synopsis- 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.

 Review- An Outlaw’s Christmas is a novella length (161 pages) seasonal read set in Texas in 1915. Piper St James is Blue River’s local school teacher who is passionate about the young children she teaches and hopes to have a family of her own someday.

Her chances for the future she dreamed of is challenged when she discovers  a horse and it’s injured rider in the snow outside her schoolhouse during a storm. She takes in the man, who she soon learns is Sawyer McKettrick- her cousin’s brother-in-law- and helps him recover from his bullet wound. She’s intrigued by the man whom is to become the new town Marshall and suspects he works on both sides of the law. Piper fears her reputation will be in tatters, she’s a respectable woman who has a strange man sleeping in her bed.

A marriage of convenience is proposed by Sawyer on a whim and Piper finds herself fantasising  about her future as a wife though fearful he will abandon her to settle down on his family’s ranch in Arizona.

I didn’t realise until I picked up the book to read, that it also contains another short novel- McKettrick’s Luck- which I am yet to read. I hope to get to it this week, but I wanted to have my review for An Outlaw’s Christmas up before Christmas Day. I haven’t read any of the other McKettrick novels in Miller’s series but I think there are another fifteen titles or so. Nevertheless, I got the sense that the McKettrick clan is quite large and spans the country and they value loyalty and kinship.

An Outlaw’s Christmas is a quick read and the majority of the story is set around the Christmas period in Texas while the snow falls and the holiday spirit is mounting. Sawyer is a likeable character, he enjoys teasing Piper but he also really admires and cares for her. Piper, though a little prudish and inflexible in her ways initially did become more endearing as the story progressed. She’s quite innocent about the ways of marriage but she does learn to trust Sawyer and let down the barriers.

I did feel that the marriage proposal was a little out of the blue as the town hadn’t even discovered he was living with her when they made the decision. For me, their motivations were a little underdeveloped at this stage. I couldn’t understand what would drive Sawyer to casually offer marriage to the first woman he came in contact with upon arriving to town. I also think they fell in love quite quickly and given Piper’s inexperience it seemed she was more likely experiencing curiosity and lust.

Despite my qualms about the relationship conflict and development, it was a shorter novel and shortcuts on these storylines are expected. An Outlaw’s Christmas was a pleasant, quick read and had me dreaming about a white Christmas overseas instead of the hot, humid weather we have had here in Sydney this week. If you’re a fan of Miller’s writing, then this would make a nice addition to the collection.

Overall Rating

3/5

“It was okay”

An Outlaw’s Christmas can be purchased from Fishpond and other leading book retailers

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