I have never been disappointed when I pick up a book by author Lorraine Heath and The Outlaw and The Lady is no exception. This book picks up about twenty years after her Rogues of Fortune, Texas trilogy and features the daughter of Jessye and Harry Bainbridge from Never Love A Cowboy.
Facing a restless night, Angela Bainbridge decides to take a quiet midnight stroll through the streets of Fortune. But instead of a soothing, introspective walk, she finds herself caught up in the middle of a bank robbery.
No one has ever been able to identify outlaw Lee Raven but since Angela has seen the elusive bank robber, he has no choice but to abduct her while he figures out what to do next. It isn’t until they’ve traveled too far to return that Lee realizes his identity was never in jeopardy because his captive is blind.
Although Angela may be blind, she’s resourceful and intelligent. She’s furious with Lee for kidnapping her and determined to make every step of their journey a misery. And she certainly does. She slows the journey with frequent stops to "relieve herself" and even manages to take a shot at Lee. Angela’s aware of Lee’s violent reputation. She knows he’s killed a man, shot him in the back, no less. But, instinctively she knows he won’t hurt her.
Lee might be frustrated at Angela’s attempts to thwart their escape, but he’s also intrigued by her bravery. He might find Angela tempting, but he knows there’s no place in his life for a woman. Not since the night Vernon Shelby and his son terrorized Lee’s family, killing his mother, father and older brother, raping his little sister, burning their ranch and leaving Lee for dead. Now there is nothing left in his life except revenge.
Lee decides it’s best to return Angela to Fortune as soon as possible, but first he stops to check on his surviving brothers and troubled sister. During her stay with Lee’s family, Angela learns that Lee is not at all the violent outlaw he’s made out to be and she begins to fall in love. Even though she knows there can be no future with a man who is destined to hang.
Lorraine Heath is the master of the tortured hero and Lee Raven is one of her best. Although his actions appear to be less than heroic, it’s apparent that there’s more to Lee’s story than what he chooses to reveal. There’s a twist to Lee’s story that completely escaped me, although the clues were everywhere, had I been paying attention.
Angela is an equally endearing heroine, having lost her sight from an illness at the age of twelve, she’s worked hard to be independent (although I’m uncertain a blind woman could be a successful seamstress) and does not allow herself to wallow in self-pity. Those qualities made it all the more heartbreaking during the scene where she realizes she’ll never see the face of the man she loves.
Many of the characters from the previous books make a seamless appearance here and it was delightful to see these characters many years down the road. If you’ve missed their stories, don’t worry, this book stands well on its own.
I know there are some readers who shy away from western historicals, I’m usually one of them. But I strongly suggest you give this, or any book by Lorraine Heath a try. She’s an author who simply should not be missed.