The Outlaw Bride
This book reminded me of cotton candy – sugary sweet, airy, with only the slightest hint of artificial flavor lasting on the tongue when the substance has finally melted away, little variety in a taste that appeals mostly to children. And did I say sugary sweet?
Esmeralda Montoya is a Mexican woman living in 1881 Texas. As the story opens, she is trying desperately to re-acquire ranch land illegally taken by the Brand family from her father, who was killed by one of them. As a Hispanic woman, she is neither trusted nor taken very seriously. After trying to persuade the Brands of her claim, she finds herself in the clutches of Eldon Brand, one of the brothers she once thought she loved, as he attempts to rape her. Esmeralda soon finds herself ready to hang for stabbing him to death.
In 1999, Elliot Brand is entrusted with the care of a skull-shaped pendant by his sister-in-law. On the way to deliver it for archeological study, he touches it, recites the words written upon it, and suddenly finds himself in 1881, ready to save a beautiful, proud woman from a hanging. Little does he know, as he tries to figure out where he is, that he is the spitting image of Eldon. Of course everyone is shocked to see the man they believe is Eldon to be alive. Elliot, though, takes action immediately and rescues Esmeralda. While helping her escape, he notices the skull pendent swinging from her neck. The words are recited once more, which in turn sends them forward to 1999 again. Here is where the story really begins.
Esmeralda decides that although Elliot is not Eldon, the similarities are striking, and therefore he cannot be trusted. But she does want his land – the very same land, and ranch – that had belonged to her father before Elliot’s ancestor stole it from her family. The only way she can think of to get it back is to get herself pregnant, thereby assuring his proposal of marriage, which in turn would make the land partly hers. She sets out to seduce him, while Elliot begins to fall in love with her.
Aside from the time travel element, which of course is pure fantasy that the author handles well, there are so many implausibilities in this book they are too numerous to list here. My first thoughts were of realistic problems. Where would she say she came from to others? She had no birth certificate, no driver’s license, no credit, no comprehension of the time, and not once were these concerns mentioned by anyone. But it wasn’t until I got to the end of the book that I realized what really bothered me about The Outlaw Bride. It was too sweet, too ideal. I kept thinking I was reading a fairy tale, and that aside from the decent sexual tension and one or two adult-like problems, it could have been a happily-ever-after story for children. The lovers fell in love too easily, too soon, the Brand family, while all suspicious of Esmeralda in the beginning, soon came around and accepted her – one big happy family with warm fuzzies to go around. Oh, gosh, it’s a wonderful life.
Esmeralda is portrayed as a fiery, proud woman, but was sometimes so overdone she became annoying. Of the two protagonists, Elliot is certainly the more enjoyable, even though he was thisclose to being the perfect man – or should I say Prince Charming? I found him. . .adorable. Hugable. I could snuggle up in bed and read Cinderella with him, he was just that cute.
Overall, the book wasn’t a bad read, just. . .so-so. Predictable. Even down to the morning sickness that nobody realized was morning sickness except for the women. If you’re in the mood for a light fantasy, fairy tale story, you’ll probably enjoy this otherwise well-written book. If you’re looking for something with a little more adult-like flavor, skip the cotton candy and go for the dark chocolate truffles.