Neither melodrama nor anti-climactic resolutions are good for a story. It’s even worse when they are combined. Since that’s exactly what happens in Skylar’s Outlaw, this just isn’t a book I’d recommend seeking out.
Skylar Belle is the child of a Texas ranch owner who, upon his death, left the ranch to his three daughters. Now she’s running the ranch, and can’t stand that the foreman is an ex-con. Cooper Yates was framed for killing horses, and then was charged with assault for beating up the man who framed him. He’s more than capable at his job, but Sky doesn’t trust him — until her family tells her to give him a chance, and she becomes his biggest defender to the other judgmental town folk. Cooper didn’t like Sky either, given her quick judgment of him, but once she starts being nice, he begins to warm to her.
The complication is this: Sky’s four-year-old daughter Kira. Kira’s father wants nothing to do with her, but his parents do. Sky has been on the move for years, hiding from them to prevent the grandparents from trying to take custody.
The entire story is riddled with abrupt characterization changes, overly built-up dramatic tension followed by a flat resolution, and unrealistic plot twists and behavior. None of this was assisted by a flat, toneless writing style.
Cooper was probably the most likable, believable character in the novel, but even he fell victim to irrationality in the end. Sky irritated me more than anything else, particularly given her complete 180 regarding Cooper. She is a caring mother; Kira has juvenile arthritis, an unusual ailment for children, but she was otherwise an unremarkable child character. Kids are usually at least a little bit cute in books, but Kira’s sweetness was (forgive the pun) sickly and her dialogue unlike that of any four-year-old I’ve met.
This is the third in a trilogy featuring Belle sisters, and the other Belles are featured prominently in this novel. The details given about their stories were slim, but they each seemed more likeable and their stories more compelling than this one. However, the dull writing would have weakened even an enjoyable story.