cover image Outlaw Hearts

Outlaw Hearts

Rosanne Bittner, F. Rosanne Bittner. Fanfare, $5.99 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-553-29807-9

One year after the Civil War has ended, 20-year-old Miranda Hayes finds herself a widow and an orphan. Knowing that she can't manage her father's farm on the Kansas plains after he is killed by marauding raiders, she decides to search for her brother, who has gone to try his luck in the Nevada gold mines. But on a trip to Kansas City one day, she is brought by fate into contact with the outlaw Jake Harkner, who is wanted in Missouri for murder, theft and rape. In the general store, where both have stopped for supplies, Jake is recognized and a shootout ensues, Miranda herself firing at him in self defense. He escapes, and in a semi-believable plot twist, winds up unconscious in Miranda's cabin. When she discovers him, drained of blood but still alive, it's clear that these two are headed for an unlikely though inevitable partnership, as Miranda seems to be the only person who can help Jake settle his troubled and violent past. Charming but at times contrived, Bittner's ( Thunder on the Plains ) western tale is filled with vivid descriptions of the raw, unsettled land from Kansas to California in the 1800s that evoke images of a wilderness too quickly tamed by civilization. (Mar.)