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REVIEW: The Outcast (Men of Pride County Book I) by...

Dear Ms West,

outcast.gifI actually read this series a few years ago but with the Kentucky Derby coming up, I felt it was the perfect time to pull it out for a refresher. I’ve read tons of books set during the Civil War but precious few set during Reconstruction. This is about how the South began to rebuild after the war. It wasn’t easy or pretty. Lots of pride went into the war and just as much came out. Now people have to regroup and learn to move forward. Mix “Gone with the Wind,” “The Long Hot Summer” (the Woodward/Newman version, please) along with a little “Mississippi Burning” and you have “The Outcast.” Or parts of it.

The hero, Reeve Garrett, has always been on the outside looking in. He’s the bastard son of one of the county’s most powerful men and went against them all by enlisting in the Federal Army when the rest of the county pulled on Confederate Gray. Now he’s come back like a slap in the face and the county isn’t going to make it easy for him.

Especially Patrice Sinclair who’s loved him since she was a child but who agreed to marry his half brother after Reeve rode away. The one the whole county feels Reeve betrayed by allowing him to be shot as a Confederate spy by his Union troop. Patrice’s feelings about Reeve are tied in knots. If he had loved her, he wouldn’t have fought against the South. He would have tried to fight for her love and hand in marriage instead of just leaving. He would have had the tact and good sense to just keep riding after the War was over. But he didn’t and she has to start to face her life after the War and try to figure out how much she’ll sacrifice for love.

horses.jpgThere are lots of books about love during the War or about those who fled west but this one is about trying to stay home and drag something out of the ash heap that was left after it ended. Life would never be the same and the values and beliefs that were expected before now had to be tempered by the stark reality of what was. I think you showed that very well. I like Patrice and Reeve and the fact that each has moments of weakness, pettiness, shame and pride just made them more real to me. Each grows even if sometimes they act more like guests on the Oprah or Phil Donahue shows. It’s amazing the insight they can reach before sinking into some misunderstandings.

I liked the secondary characters and had to laugh at the moment when Patrice realized that her mother wasn’t the vapid Southern lady she’d always thought her to be. There is a Yankee banker friend of Reeve’s who gets his own story and as does Patrice’s tormented, older brother Deacon. There were some inconsistencies with dialogue, a fairly predictable if exciting ending and small nitpicks that I won’t go into that lowered the grade a bit to a B but it’s a strong start for this series.

~Jayne

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

8 Comments

  1. Marg
    May 05, 2007 @ 04:13:06

    This sounds good! Now I just have to try and track it down!

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  2. Jayne
    May 05, 2007 @ 05:34:11

    Marg the whole series is quite good but it is DEFINITELY a series which does need to be read in order: The Outcast, The Outsider,The Rebel, The Pretender. I will be doing letters for all four.

    The series was actually planned to have had five books but Avon pulled her contract after book four was published and thus one of the most interesting characters who features in all four of the published ones never got his own book. Everyone who’s ever read the series gnashes their teeth about this and shakes their fists at Avon. Ah well…

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  3. Keishon
    May 05, 2007 @ 07:26:41

    Oh good, that you’re reviewing them all. I have them all and just haven’t read them yet. They often get lost in my TBR mountain.

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  4. Rosie
    May 05, 2007 @ 10:24:27

    Jayne, Jayne, Jayne, I knew I was doomed when you mentioned THE LONG HOT SUMMER (of course Newman/Woodward) and Reconstruction. I’ll be trolling for these now. This sounds right up my alley.

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  5. Estelle
    May 06, 2007 @ 12:00:14

    Your review made me so curious Jayne that I ordered all 4 books immediately. So far I think the storyline that interests me the most is the one from the second book The Outsider. Was the book good? I know you’re going to write a review but, well, I’m so very impatient!

    That’s a bummer about Avon pulling the contract. Does anyone have contacted the author and asked if there was a chance the fifth book would ever be published (or self-published)? If I like all four books I might send her an email.

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  6. Jayne
    May 06, 2007 @ 17:39:02

    Yes, I graded The Outsider as a B+. Rosalyn West also writes other Western historicals as Dana Ransom (I’ve read one of those books and have about 8-9 TBR) and paranormals as Nancy Gideon.

    I just looked through her site and, for now at least, there doesn’t seem to be a way to email her but she says it’s “coming soon.” Her FAQ section is also under construction. Bummer…

    Some of my online friends have mentioned writing to her and to Avon about the fifth book but I don’t think they ever got a response from Avon.

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  7. Estelle
    May 07, 2007 @ 12:27:49

    Ah, good news about The Outsider then. Can’t wait until the books get here. As a matter of fact I read one of her Ransom books, Temptation’s Trail, not long ago. I’m on a glom for books with virgin heroes or heroes not very experienced sexually and this happened to be one of them. I’m so sick of Dukes of Sluts and studly jerks that I felt the need to read some other books. I really liked Temptation’s trail too. I liked her style for one, which is why I didn’t hesitate to order all 4 books of the Men of Pride Country all at once, and I also liked the characters, but then I’m always such a sucker for good westerns.

    The hero, Harm, has got books written about him, he’s a real legend in the West, everyone fears him. The heroine wants to hire him to find her brother and is expecting the man to look like a legend too. In fact Harm turns out to be an unremarkable man in his appearance at first (small, slight, dressed in old clothes). A very refreshing twist.

    I’ll bookmark her website and see if it gets updated with an email adress.

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  8. Nancy Gideon
    Feb 22, 2009 @ 07:28:58

    Hi Estelle
    So glad you enjoyed Harmon in my Dana Ransom series! I loved writing those books. You’ve got me thinking about plotting another historical (The Pretender for Avon was the last one I wrote although I have done paranormals and contemporaries under my own name since then). Readers can e-mail me at ncgideon@msn.com.

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