Give Me a Texas Outlaw Anthology
Grade : B

When I want to be introduced to a writer I’ve never encountered, I like to read anthologies. If the compilation has a story I enjoy by a new author, it’s like an extra cherry on a sundae. Fortunately, that sums up this anthology for me.

Most Wanted by DeWanna Pace

I’d never read anything by DeWanna Pace, but Most Wanted convinced me to look her up online. Gun for hire Shadow Rivers, the hero of a popular dime novel, desperately wants to be left in peace and have a normal, danger-free life. Fugitive on the run Odessa Kilmore begs him to protect her and take her back home before she’s killed by the gunmen chasing her. In just a few short pages, Pace made me root for both Shadow and Odessa despite their odd names and a somewhat clunky plot. Their journey away from the gunmen who were paid to stop Odessa and the ones who want to best a famous gunman like Shadow for the most part rings true. Only a deus ex machina in the form of a surveyor mars the exciting tale. B- Subtle

Texas Flame by Phyllis Miranda

Phyllis Miranda’s Texas Flame is a mixed bag. Savannah Parker is the bank robber outlaw here while Ethan Kimble is the good guy out to find her. Ethan and Savannah have a history from when they were growing up, so Ethan can’t understand why sweet, but spoiled Savannah turned to a life of crime. Unfortunately, neither character was very appealing to me — Ethan because he spends more time blaming her than listening to her, and Savannah because her explanation of the robberies after the first one makes no sense. The only sympathetic character for me was an autistic young man whom Savannah befriends along the way. C Subtle

The Outlaw by Jodi Thomas

Jodi Thomas’ The Outlaw combines her sense of fun and quirky secondary characters in a story about the nephew of an inept gang of outlaws who is trying desperately to get his uncles to go straight. When Michael Hughes stumbles into a chapel and runs into a woman in her wedding gown, he’s trying to find a safe place to stay out of sight while his bumbling, but good hearted uncles are rounded up after they’re caught stealing. Michael is the answer to Cozette Camanez’s prayers. She needs to get married to someone fast before her dying father wills his ranch to his despicable brother. Michael is stunned when she promises to let him and his uncles go if he will marry her until she inherits the ranch. Then she’ll give him his freedom and money as well. With this unlikely premise, Thomas’ Western comedy of manners runs wild until its satisfying conclusion. Spirited Cozette is the perfect wife for the good-hearted Michael, and his Three Stooges uncles prove they can turn deadly when needed. I’ve always enjoyed Thomas’ sense of the ridiculous, and it was front row center in this story whose hero wasn’t an outlaw at all, which belies the title of the anthology. B Subtle

Trouble in Petticoats by Linda Broday

Linda Broday’s Trouble in Petticoats is a study in duplicity. Larissa Patrick can’t understand what dangerous-looking Johnny Diamond is doing at the Four Spades Ranch talking to her father. When she learns that her younger sister Beth has been kidnapped and her father wants Johnny to return her to the ranch, Larissa knows she has to go with him, to help Beth if for no other reason. Broday’s story weaves the harshness and depravations of the unsettled West into a story of two extremely likeable people who are hungry for love. Broday’s tale was also the kind of story I seek in an anthology because it gave me a new author to look forward to reading. A- Subtle

Reviewed by Pat Henshaw

Grade: B

Sensuality: Subtle

Review Date : September 9, 2011

Publication Date: 06/2011

Review Tags: Anthology

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