The Outsider
Grade : B+

I don’t think that there is any sadder time in history than the American Civil War period. I used to read about those times a lot, until I watched the PBS series on the Civil War. Reading about the Civil War always depressed me, but after that series, I lost my enthusiasm for it, and for the resurrection afterwards. It hurt too badly to see men fight a war that was never truly won by anybody; too many lost and too few came home.

So, when I received this book the other day, I thought, “Oh no, not the Civil War.” With my heart on my sleeve, I opened up the cover and began the first sentence. I was hooked.

Hamilton Dodge is a Yankee, a man who was a part of the Northern Aggression (as the Southerners put it). He’s been asked by one of his closest friends to come to Pride County and run the local bank. He’s the most hated man in town, and is shot in the back one night by a man who’s sworn to kill him. Hamilton has been fighting for months, trying to get himself back on his feet. He wants to feel himself a man again. So, against doctor’s orders, he attempts to rebuild his life, which includes a home and family – as soon as he can persuade Starla Fairfax to be his wife.

Starla Fairfax has secrets, big secrets, to hide. She was certain she hated that damn Yankee Hamilton with all her heart and soul, but, her secrets make her reconsider what choices are available to her. So, when Hamilton Dodge proposes, rather than laugh in his face, she accepts. After all, what would a partially crippled man be able to do to her if he discovered—? The marriage would be in name only, and she could at least have a handsome husband, and a home to share, and, she would be able to keep all those secrets hidden, wouldn’t she?

This book was a total surprise to me. Rather than being reluctant to read it, I was fascinated by it. It has everything – secrets, night raids, a man willing to give his all to protect the woman he loves, a couple who share their lives and fall in love with each other, whether willing to or not. The secrets were just part of a well woven tale of hatred, love, and a country trying to get back up on its feet from almost total annihilation.

If this book has a flaw, I’d say it’s that I felt that Hamilton Dodge was made just a little too much bigger than actual life. But he is a true hero, willing to stand up for the woman he loves no matter what her secrets are, and yes, she has some real doozies.

This is the second book in The Men of Pride County series, and I’m truly sorry to say that I haven’t yet read The Outcast. I’m now off on a hunt to grab that first book because I don’t want to miss one single word of what Ms. West is going to write on this series.

If you’re a lover of the “ol’ South” during it’s time of reclamation, I urge you to find this book and read it. I found it fascinating – gut wrenching at times. I fell in love with Hamilton and Starla and wanted everything to turn out well for them. I certainly wasn’t disappointed. I felt the end was a tad bit rushed, but that was partly because I wanted just a little bit more than there was on the last couple of pages. The Outsider is just too good a book to miss – a keeper for me.

Reviewed by Deborah Barber

Grade: B+

Sensuality: Subtle

Review Date : September 3, 1998

Publication Date: 1998

Recent Comments …

Deborah Barber

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments