Seems to me I said sometime before, never read the second book first and the first book second. I still believe that, and even more so this time around. The Outcast is the first book in The Men Of Pride County series. It’s the story of Reeve Garrett, bastard son of Byron Glendower, and half-brother to Jonah, Patrice Sinclair’s fiancé. You may recall my mentioning Reeve and Patrice in my review of The Outsider.
The Outcast begins with the death of Reeve’s half-brother, Jonah, a soldier fighting on the Southern side during the Civil War. But Reeve is a Yankee, and now stands by, helpless, while he watches his younger brother shot by a firing squad. Jonah will not tell them who the spy is that’s giving away their secrets, even though he knows. Reeve begs Jonah to save himself, but Jonah refuses. Reeve is in an awkward situation and can do absolutely nothing to save his brother.
When the war ends, Reeve returns to the plantation home that he’s never truly been a part of. He and his mother live in a small log cabin on the plantation, while Byron Glendower had kept his wife and younger son Jonah, in the plantation home they’ve always known. Byron has always loved Reeve’s mother, who was a widow when they met, but he was already married. With Mrs. Garrett, he conceives a child, Reeve. His long-suffering wife bears the shame, but a short time later also bears a legitimate heir, Jonah, for her husband.
When Reeve returns home, his mother is dead, his father’s wife has passed on as well, and his brother is just another mound in the family cemetary. Reeve has known Patrice Sinclair all of his life. They’ve been friends since they were very young. He’s always been in love with her and she’s always returned his feelings. But Jonah got in the way just before the war, and while Reeve was riding off to Yankee glory, Patrice’s family was arranging for her engagement to the Glendower heir. Patrice knew in her heart that she really didn’t love Jonah, but has been taught that her duty lies in marrying the legitimate son. While she may be in love with Reeve, it’s Jonah who would be her husband. With the war over and the return of Reeve, Patrice is more than certain that she hates Reeve now. How could he turn traitor on his own family like that? How can he look her in the eye and pretend that their love meant nothing? And how can she ignore these feelings she still holds for him?
With the heir to the plantation dead, Byron Glendower has no choice but to make Reeve his heir. Patrice will not forgive Reeve for allowing Jonah to die, and the remainder of the community will never forgive Reeve for the traitor they believe him to be. There are some dirty dealings going on out of sight of everybody, and Reeve knows somebody’s going to be hurt and sure as shootin’, that somebody just might be him if he can’t keep his Yankee hide safe and sound. We’re also introduced to Hamilton Dodge, whom I had one perception of because of the second book and had a totally different perception of in the first book. This took me by surprise, and not necessarily for the best. Dodge was a tad less genteel in the first book, a little more crass and rough around the edges than he is in his own story.
There was nothing truly wrong with this story. It was a good book as far as being an introduction to a new series but it was an average read. There were no surprises here, but I’m still looking forward to the third book (and I’m hoping to be pleasantly surprised with that one). I truly enjoyed The Outsider (which I read first), but, since I knew what had happened to Dodge, I felt having read the second book first spoiled The Outcast for me.