Quiet And Enduring Love Paves The Way To Everlasting Happiness In "The Outlaw's Heart"

Title:  The Outlaw's Heart
Series:  Runaway Brides #3
Author:  Amy Sandas
Length:  384 pages
Expected Date Of Publication: October 29, 2019
Publisher:  Sourcebooks Casablanca
Rating:  5 Stars

Three runaway brides
Determined to escape their fates
Flee West to find freedom that can only be had
in a cowboy's arms...

Desperate to escape an unhappy marriage, Boston socialite Evelyn Perkins flees west in hopes of losing herself to the dusty frontier. But when her train is boarded by outlaws, Evelyn is taken for ransom. Despite her terror, Evelyn fears being returned to her husband more. Refusing to co-operate, she becomes the responsibility of a man whose steady gaze threatens to pierce her brave façade and reach the wounded heart within.

Gabriel Sloan has his orders, but the haunting shadows in the pretty young woman's eyes spark an intense protective instinct he can't deny. Every look, every touch brings them closer together. He would do anything to protect her, but dangerous men are on their trail, and soon the two must face Evelyn's darkest nightmare―or risk losing the unexpected joy they've found forever... 

Please Enjoy This Excerpt From:
The Gunslinger's Vow
*Runaway Brides #1

After knocking sharply, he lowered his chin, crossed his arms over his chest, and waited. He chose not to analyze why the idea of disturbing her sleep gave him a perverse sort of pleasure.

He was about to knock again, when the lock released and the door opened to reveal a very sleepy— and very undressed—woman blinking at him with wide blue eyes.

“Mr. Kincaid? Is something wrong?”

Wrong? Hellfire and damnation. Malcolm could barely think.

The foolish woman stood there in nothing more than a white towel wrapped around her body from chest to knee. The creamy skin of her limbs and shoulders was entirely exposed, and dark hair fell in heavy waves down her back. She looked soft and feminine and too damned enticing.

Lust swept hot and furious through him. He ground his back teeth hard to stop his body’s instant reaction to the sight of Miss Brighton in such a state.

“What the hell are you doing opening the door like that?” Malcolm growled, glancing down the hall to make sure no one else was about.

Her eyes grew wider as she looked down at herself. A swift blush pinkened her cheeks, and she tried to step back around the edge of the door. “I was in a deep sleep,” she explained. “I forgot I wasn’t dressed.”

“What if it hadn’t been me knocking?” he asked angrily.

It was probably his tone that had her lifting her chin and narrowing her gaze. “Well, it is you, isn’t it? And you still haven’t told me why you have come to bother me in the middle of the night.”

“It’s barely ten o’clock.”

Apparently over her embarrassment, she crossed her arms over her chest in a perfect copy of his own stance and lifted her brows in question. The action plumped the upper swells of her breasts, and Malcolm’s mouth went bone-dry.

Forcing his attention back to her face didn’t seem to help much. Not with her eyes all soft from sleep and those lips looking so damn kissable.

“I’ll take you to Montana,” he said abruptly, trying to shake himself free of the sensual snare he’d walked into.

Her mouth dropped open in surprise. “You will?”

Malcolm was tempted to back out then simply due to the strength of his unbidden desire. He did not want to entertain the idea that his attraction to her was growing stronger rather than fading. But it was the damned truth. The journey was going to be torturous in more ways than one. He had no intention of acting on the lust she inspired, but that didn’t mean he didn’t feel it, and it didn’t mean he’d always be able to hide it.

But he couldn’t in good conscience leave her stranded. Doing so would make him no better than Lassiter, and there was no telling what manner of character she’d end up in the hands of if he wasn’t there to keep her out of trouble.

“We do things my way,” he stated firmly. “No arguing.”

She nodded vigorously. “Of course. Whatever you say, Mr. Kincaid.”

Malcolm narrowed his gaze. Her ready agreement was suspicious, but he’d made his decision. “Malcolm,” he muttered.

Her eyebrows lifted in surprise. Then she smiled, and Malcolm’s gut clenched. The curve of that lower lip was going to be the death of him.

“All right, Malcolm.” She unfolded her arms to extend her hand. “And you may call me Alexandra.”

Malcolm knew he shouldn’t take her hand. Not there in the dark while she stood in nothing but a towel, not when desire ran rampant through his blood at the simple sight of her. But she kept her hand extended and lifted a brow as though in challenge.

He took her hand in his, noting its softness and how easily it became folded up in his larger grip. His bicep tensed with the urge to give a quick and forceful tug so she’d tumble toward him until her breasts flattened against his chest, her thighs bumped his, and her breath spread across his throat. It’d be so easy to take her in his arms and claim her mouth.

But she was innocent and far too trusting—not to mention way the hell out of his class—and Malcolm had never taken anything from a woman that wasn’t freely given. Miss Brighton was not for him.

Oblivious to his train of thought, she gave a surprisingly firm handshake. Her smile never wavered as she declared, “You won’t regret this. I promise.”

Malcom released her hand and stepped back. “Be downstairs by seven o’clock tomorrow.”

“I will. Thank you, Malcolm.”

“And ask who’s at your door before you open the damned thing.”

Malcolm held his position until the door closed and he heard the lock click into place. Then he stalked down the hall to his own room, taking slow breaths to rein in his body’s fierce and unwelcome craving. He’d need to see to his own relief tonight. There was no way he was going to start on the trail with that woman wound as tight as he was.

Not if he hoped to survive the journey.

My Thoughts

Amy Sandas offers readers a tale of innocence lost. And strength, freedom, and a love meant to endure all that would come to test it found. In The Outlaw's Heart. The third offering in her Runaway Brides series. And this reviewer's first encounter with her as an author.

Evelyn's story of abuse and escape was one that proved nothing less than riveting from word one.
But as the story progressed. With her consequent mistaken identity and kidnapping. I was sure that she would be harmed in some way. Or at least find herself back in the hands of her abusive alcoholic of a husband.

That was of course until she and Gabriel met in front of the outlaw campfire.
And he saw her fear, strength, and desperation to simply be free.
Emotions which called to longings within his own soul. Triggering memories of his own captivity, alienation, and quest for autonomy.

Though Evelyn's transition from battered wife, to fugitive, to captive, and finally to love interest happened quite rapidly. The sheer seamlessness of each progression locked in perfect step with like forward momentum in the storyline.
Drawing clear lines in the proverbial sand between the adventurous and romantic aspects of the tale. With none taking precedence over the other.

Speaking of romance. Can we just take a moment to admire the quiet, patient, and beautifully compassionate, leading man that is Gabriel.
As a man ripped away from his family at a young age. Having lived a life marred by scorn, ostricazion, abuse, and fear. To then turn such a quiet and often unspoken understanding toward his leading lady.
Simply phonominal.
In Gabriel's presence, Evelyn knew that she would always find safety.
Whether with in on horseback. In the seclusion of his valley cabin. Or protected by the warmth of the man himself.
Evelyn was never unsure of her value to him as a person, a woman, or a soul.
Seeing these two together was nothing short of a study of symbiosis. With a simple glance or touch conveying more depth of emotion than words could ever dare.
Long before any physical advances toward carnality were even a thought.
Theirs is a romance that is more of a joining of souls. A joining so profound that the joining of bodies; no matter how wondrous, pales in comparison.

This is a beautiful testament to the healing and fortifying power of true love. And what the gift of storytelling can bring to life. When exercised by an author talented enough to wield it.

Reviewer's Note: This is the third volume in a related series. It may be read as a standalone. Although it is strongly suggested that it be read as part of its intended collection.
I would like to thank Sourcebooks Casablanca and Netgally for the opportunity to review this book.

About Amy
Amy Sandas’ love of romance began one summer when she stumbled across one of her mother’s Barbara Cartland books. Her affinity for writing began with sappy pre-teen poems and led to a Bachelor’s degree with an emphasis on Creative Writing from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. She lives with her husband and children in Wisconsin.

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