AN OUTLAW'S CHRISTMAS Linda Lael Miller
The McKettricks of Texas
Harlequin HQN
ISBN: 978-0-373-77701-3
October 2012
Historical Romance

Blue River, Texas December 1915

Sawyer McKettrick comes in on the train to Blue River.  He no sooner gets on his horse, Cherokee, when he is shot in the shoulder and barely makes it away before the shooter fires again.  Sawyer's horse bolts, and when he stops, Sawyer passes out and falls unconscious into the snow.

Piper St. James is in the school where she has a small bedroom in back.  Her cousin, Dara Rose, is happily married to Clay McKettrick and had enticed her into moving to Blue River to teach school.  She has plenty of food, and although it is bitterly cold and windy outside, she braves the weather to go to the well and the wood shed to replenish what she needs to ride out the storm.  She is surprised to see a horse and finds its rider injured in the snow.  She drags him to the school house and manages to get him inside, then puts the horse into a small shed in back.  After bandaging the stranger, she prays he will survive and waits for him to wake up.  Piper worries that he might be an outlaw since he carries a weapon.

Clay McKettrick arrives the next morning to check on the schoolmarm.  He recognizes his injured cousin, Sawyer, and goes for the doctor.  Dr. Howard is married to Eloise, who thinks she is better than the people of Blue River, and even better than her husband.  The doctor takes care of Sawyer and promises to return later leaving Sawyer in Piper's care.  She is worried; she knows that a school teacher's reputation must be above reproach, but what can she do?  When Sawyer awakens, he is in a lot of pain but feeling stronger.  He tells Piper that he will be taking over Clay's duties as sheriff when he is able.

The following morning, Sawyer is up and around and feeling much better.  Piper's students are getting antsy about the Christmas pageant that she had planned, so now that the storm is over, she begins to get some visitors.  She prays she will get through this ordeal with her reputation intact.  Her whole life changes with this incident.

Another McKettrick story, AN OUTLAW'S CHRISTMAS takes place with the backdrop of a small Texas town.  But is Sawyer an outlaw?  Even his cousin, Clay, is not sure.  He is a perfect gentleman toward Piper, but he is handy with a six shooter.  Piper is lonely and only came to Blue River because of her last living relative, Dara Rose.  You can read Clay and Dara Rose's story in a previous book by Linda Lael Miller, A LAWMAN'S CHRISTMAS, published in 2011.

Piper and Sawyer are likeable characters, strong and reliable.  AN OUTLAW'S CHRISTMAS is a good read, but I kept thinking there was more to the story regarding someone trying to kill Sawyer, and wondered if someone would arrive to finish the job!  Readers who have been following the McKettricks are sure to want to add A LAWMAN'S CHRISTMAS to their Christmas reading.  It is an enjoyable, romantic tale.

Marilyn Heyman