The Outlaw's Heart by Amy Sandas
Readers should be warned that this book starts with a pretty graphic description of spousal brutality. The heroine, Evelyn, flees her husband’s abuse and winds up far from her society life in Boston, out in Wyoming’s high mountains, hiding out with a gang of outlaws after a case of mistaken identity leads to her being kidnapped off a train. Gabriel Sloan takes on responsibility for Evelyn, recognising something in her which calls to him. He’s Native American, having been taken from his tribe as a child and raised among whites, he too has a feeling of not fitting in anywhere.
With two protagonists who are by nature very quiet people, there’s more narration than dialogue in this book, but Amy Sandas does an excellent job of telling the story through description and through Evelyn’s eyes, we discover the wild beauty of Wyoming’s high country and the gentleness of Gabriel. The romance is slow burn but believable, especially considering the abuse Evie has suffered, it’s obvious she isn’t ready to rush into anything.
It’s obvious from the beginning that Evie’s husband will come after her, but the confrontation at the end was over quicker than I expected and with a minimum of violence, especially considering the graphic opening. And honestly, I don’t think the violence is gratuitous considering we only see the aftermath, because knowing about what Evie’s endured gives us some essential insights into her character. It still might be too much for some readers. While I didn’t mind it particularly, there were a few things in the book which annoyed me, including a Surprise Virgin moment which seemed exceptionally contrived and also unnecessary; it made no difference to how Gabriel viewed Evelyn. Overall, I’ll give this four stars.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.