cover image The Outlaw’s Mail Order Bride

The Outlaw’s Mail Order Bride

Linda Broday. Sourcebooks Casablanca, $7.99 mass market (416p) ISBN 978-1-4926-5104-8

Western romance star Broday (To Catch a Texas Star) launches a series with this lackluster historical romance set in late-19th-century Texas. Clay Colby and his crew of former outlaws are trying to go straight in their settlement, Devil’s Crossing. Tally Shannon, Clay’s mail-order bride, arrives after months of correspondence. She bears physical and mental scars from being imprisoned in the Creedmore Insane Asylum by her conniving stepmother. Clay and a frustratingly inconsistent Tally agree to a trial marriage and collaborate in caring for Tally’s adopted daughter, Violet, a fellow Creedmore escapee who’s blind, sweet, and hesitant to trust. Clay quickly rebuffs a posse from the asylum seeking Tally, including the sadistic warden Slade Tarver. Integrating newcomers to Devil’s Crossing—including Clay’s former lover, saloon girl Rebel, and a desperado who recently tried to burn down the town—brings melodramatic action and perpetual suspicion. After months and without clear impetus, Clay and Tally ride out to avenge her treatment at the asylum. Broday’s crisp writing and cameos from her other series somewhat improve the languid plot. Her longtime readers may enjoy this tale, but others are unlikely to find it engaging. Agent: Gail Fortune, Talbot Fortune. (Feb.)