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Who here is a fan of Western romance novels? That’s exactly what Undercover Outlaw by Gini Rifkin is. Set in the time of cowboys and bandits, it’s a completely different world to my current drizzly British lockdown… So perhaps exactly what I needed right now!
***AD: This post features press samples but all thoughts are my own***
“Jesse is determined to track down the man who killed his brother in cold blood. Impersonating an outlaw, his quest for justice becomes a living, breathing, part of his soul. Trinity is heading to Denver to escape her vicious guardians. When her stagecoach is robbed, Jesse kidnaps her, and all her well-laid plans collide with his, leaving them both in danger. Trapped in Prairie Ridge by a flood, Jesse and Trinity’s feelings soon run as high and wild as the river. When Jesse is accused of murder, Trinity stands by his side, and they take on the town’s tyrannical leader. As the city cowers in fear, help comes from an unexpected source, but can it save Jesse from a hangman’s noose?”
(Taken from Goodreads)
I’ll admit that I don’t really read a lot of Westerns, so Undercover Outlaw was quite a new experience for me. Especially Western romance novels – the Western material I usually consume is in the form of gritty, bloodthirsty movies, so this made for a nice change. It’s not just a love story though, with plenty of dark dealings going on throughout.
The start of the book is quite deliberately confusing, and it takes a while to work out what’s really going on. Protagonist Trinity seems to be in a rather dodgy situation, but there’s something curious about her outlaw captor that doesn’t quite make sense. As the story unfolds we start to understand, but the author is very clever in drip-feeding this to us throughout. It makes it an exciting read as you can just tell the characters know things that you don’t.
I really loved Trinity as the protagonist – she’s strong and fiery, but with vulnerabilities as well. Jesse is another great character to follow and I loved seeing him develop as I learnt more about his past. Although I felt the relationship between Trinity and Jesse developed a tad too suddenly – I think I wanted more of a slow, complex build up to that point – I was totally invested in them by the end and rooting for them to make it through to the other side.
There were some really great side characters as well. I loved Sol, a wise older man with a tragic past, and of course, Mary June and the other friends that Trinity makes (and there’s such a heart-warming sub-plot focused around them). I also loved what I saw of Etta, Trinity’s best friend, and particularly liked a suggestive hint involving her at the end of the book.
The part I enjoyed most was the exploration of the more underground side of Prairie Ridge. There’s a fair bit of action for a romance in Undercover Outlaw, and a great mix of lovely and downright evil characters. The town itself seems a dark place and discovering why was really quite gripping. The action carries on throughout the whole book, too, and really helps propel the romance plot forward.
There was one other thing I also really appreciated, which was a section within the author’s note at the end. Here Rifkin notes some historical facts that the reader might have wondered about whilst reading. I really liked this – it added a little more context to the story, and helped to make it feel even more real. This is something I would like to see in more fiction novels!
Undercover Outlaw contains a great story within, and I felt completely transported back to the Wild West. It’s got everything you need from a classic Western, but the romance plot and humour give it that little bit extra. Although a fairly short book compared to others I’ve read recently, it’s engaging from start to finish. A perfect choice for romance fans who want to see love blossom in a slightly different setting.
If you’d like to purchase a copy of Undercover Outlaw then you can do so here:
“Gini Rifkin’s books follow characters who are courageous and passionate about life, and when they meet, sparks fly while danger often threatens. Her settings include the American West, Medieval and Victorian England, and contemporary fantasy. When not writing, Gini has the privilege of caring for her rescue animals including ducks, geese, goats, rabbits, donkeys, and cats. Her writing keeps her hungry to learn new things, and she considers family and friends her most treasured of gifts. So step back in time or into the future, where adventurous romance is waiting just for you.”
(Taken from Amazon)
Have you read any Western romance novels before? Or are you into Western content in general? Let me know below, and don’t forget to like and pin if you enjoyed this review! You may also like the following books: