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To Marry a Texas Outlaw by Linda Broday

Saturday, May 26, 2018

To Marry a Texas Outlaw 
Men of Legend #3

Linday Broday
Western Historical Romance
Published in 2017

H/h - Luke Weston/Josie Morgan
Setting: Texas, 1879.

Read in November-December, 2017.
My rating:

                                                        [spoiler alert]

To Marry a Texas Outlaw is the book 3 of Linda Broday’s Men of Legend series. It was my most anticipated installment of the series because of how much I adored the H, Luke. Since being introduced in book 1, I’ve been waiting for his story. Sadly, have to say it wasn’t how I expected it to be.

Much like Bachelors of Battle Creek, the other series of Linda Broday that I read and loved, Men of Legend focuses on a family or a ‘band of brothers’ if you can call them. Even though, the brothers of Bachelors of Battle Creek series weren’t brothers by blood, these Legends brothers certainly are! The first book focuses on Sam Legend, a former Texas Ranger, who was estranged from his family because of the demands his job used to put on him. Houston is his older brother and shoulders the responsibility of the huge Legend ranch called Lone Star. They met Luke, a brother they didn’t know existed, in Sam’s story.

Sam had enjoyed his job as a Texas Ranger until he thought death had finally caught up with him. A pretty terrifying description is given at the beginning of book 1, To Love a Texas Ranger, when he’s almost hanged by a group of outlaws. When he thought he was done for, a known outlaw he’s been chasing, Luke Weston becomes his unexpected savior. Luke has been so elusive that Sam had a tough time tracking him down, unable to catch him even once despite Sam’s expertise. Yet there was this odd game was being played between the two where Luke seems to chase Sam just as much as he did. And they enjoyed it as well. Why, he couldn’t tell. Until the day Luke saved his life, Sam wouldn’t have thought he’s capable of any good deed. Now he’s willing to rethink his opinion of the outlaw.

The whole experience left Sam in depression, battling nightmares and PTSD. His boss sends him home to recuperate but Sam was caught in a different battle when he saves a beautiful girl named Sierra Hunt from another band of outlaws. While he was taking her away from danger, Luke Weston somehow catches up with them. He’s eager to help and Sam can’t even arrest him cause he owes his life to this guy. However their journey towards Lone Star, where Sam meant to shelter Sierra until he could figure out her troubles and how to save her, was fraught with danger so Luke’s help was more than welcomed. It seemed he was also keen on checking out Lone Star. But why?

When they finally reach Lone Star is when things began unraveling. Luke’s real identity is revealed as Stoker, their father’s, first born from an affair. Well, they were in love but Stoker couldn’t marry Luke’s mother because of her own people. She was Mexican and they were against a marriage with a white guy. It was a tragic tale where Stoker never knew he’d fathered a child. Back in his ranch, he’d married Houston and Sam’s mother, even loved her as best as he could, but his Mexican senorita had always been in his mind. Now seeing his son, all grown up, tall and big with the Legend looks and temperament, Stoker could only apologize and ask Luke for a chance to be a father to him. A father Luke desperately needed with dangers dogging his every step.

It left Houston and Sam in a big dilemma. Though they were unhappy about their father keeping such a huge secret from them, soon they realized they wanted Luke around, most especially knowing his circumstances. Luke’s mother was abandoned by her family and she brought him up in utter poverty. She was the one who told him about Stoker and given him a keepsake that only Stoker would remember. She requested him to go to his father for a better life. After his mother passed, Luke had followed Sam, knowing full well he’s his little brother. It was no wonder he was there to save his a$$ that fateful day!

While Sam was sorting out Sierra’s trouble, we found Houston already engaged to a girl from the neighboring ranch called Becky. It seemed they were in love and couldn’t wait to get married. In fact, their marriage was an event coming soon; as soon as they could manage. No wonder I thought Houston was already settled. Unfortunately, as is revealed in book 2, To Marry a Texas Cowboy,  Becky is murdered on their wedding day by a man turned out to be her lover! Not only that, the man claimed she was pregnant with his child, but refused to marry him because he had no money or station in life. So Houston was her easy way out. All the words of love from her to Houston had been an act to snag him.

Poor Houston, my heart went for him instantly because he was totally smitten with his beautiful fiancée and so looking forward to his big day! The pain of her murder, the shock of her betrayal soon turns into extreme anger towards everything. Houston lost interest in life and the living, ignoring his loved ones and drowning himself in alcohol. Stoker knew something had to be done for his son cause he couldn’t let him suffer any longer. In desperation, he and a rancher neighbor come up with an idea to give Houston a purpose in life and they knew Houston was the right person for it. You see, whereas I found Sam to be the rebellious one, Luke to be the reckless, Houston was the responsible one. Even when they didn’t know Luke, and Sam was away, Houston stayed behind as the big brother and worked shoulder to shoulder with Stoker. It’s even said in book 3 that he looked more like Stoker than any of his other bothers in his height and buff build. Sam was a tad shorter and I presume, had their mother’s look. And Luke had a stronger trace of his Latina mother’s looks mixed with Stoker’s eyes and height. Houston had been trained to take the reign of Lone Star. Not only he was responsible, but also, he was fiercely protective of what he deemed was his own. Well, I guess all the Legend brothers had that trait but Houston would never ignore a responsibility, and if it came with someone in need of his protection... Stoker knew his son well and how to appeal to that side of him. So he made up a story and threw Houston a lifeline; something Houston didn’t even know he needed badly.

The appeal worked and Houston agreed to marry the girl sight unseen, just because he thought it’s going to help their ranch. But when he heard of the girl’s plight in life, he felt the need to protect her instantly. Lara had been raped by a ranch-hand a few yrs ago, and had a child as a result. She was homebound but her father, the above mentioned neighboring rancher, was anxious to see her have a better life than how she was living. The a$$hole who raped her had fled but she was always worried that he may show up to stake a claim of her little girl... I won’t go in to the details of the ‘plot’ Stoker and he hatched, but it was a life changer for both her and Houston. They thanked their lucky stars, and their fathers, later on for bringing them together. Because otherwise, Houston would’ve never known Lara, let alone marrying her. She certainly had no idea what her father up to, but married Houston mainly for the safety of her little girl.

This story had everything, but mainly the budding romance between an already married couple where Houston had done his utmost best to gain Lara’s trust and return her self-confidence. She began believing in herself, falling in love with her husband each day. Also some suspenseful moments with enough actions and adventures. To me, Houston was the most surprising of the Legend brother because initially I didn’t even expect that he’d have his own book! He was a gentleman through and through, but when the occasion called for it, he could be a savage to protect the ones he loved.  Soon, Lara and her daughter Gracie were included in that list. Houston and everybody else fell in love with that little girl and Gracie took to Houston like she’d never done before. I absolutely loved it, and now that I’ve read book 3, would say that that was my favorite book in the series. :)

To Marry a Texas Outlaw was my most anticipated installment because despite everything, I leaned towards Luke. I found him hot and intense; an outlaw with a heart of gold that no girl can ignore. I was eagerly waiting to see who wins Luke’s heart. He’d long buried all his tender feelings since the death of his beloved mother and his first love and wife, Angelina and whoever it was would have to REALLY work for it, right?

Apparently not. LOL

In the first 2 installments, bit by bit Luke’s past life with his mother as the single parent, the hardship he’d endured and what pushed him to become an outlaw, had been carefully put together. You get to know a lot about him by the time he gets his own book. Yet, I couldn’t tell who was the lucky girl to be paired with him. There were a few hit and miss secondary characters that I thought would be his heroine, but neither of them did. So, in that sense, Josie, the h was an entirely new character. I didn’t know her as well as Luke but I can’t say I was very fond of her anyway.

Since Luke has gotten to know his family he hadn’t had to shoulder his burdens alone anymore. Both his brothers, who’d welcomed him with open arms, had offered help. So did his father, who had shed tears never knowing he’d had a son with his first love. He tried his own way to amend it by wanting to help Luke out of his troubles, mostly stemming from his wild ways and outlaw days. Hell, Luke has a bounty on his head, which is why he has to hide away as much as possible; these days often at Lone Star. But Luke was also a very proud man and he didn’t want his family get mixed up with what he deemed was his own ‘sins’. He definitely thought he should take care of his own problems.

Lately though, Luke’s strong resolve had been floundering. From not really having a loving family –though his mother loved him more than anything else in the world, she died when he was very young—to a family full of love, Luke didn’t know how to handle it all. It was overwhelming, and frankly, scary for a loner like him. Though he’d known Stoker and his bothers’ existence, Luke spend a big part of his life hating the fact that he was left to fend for himself when he could’ve had smooth sailing. Now, after spending a few years with them, Luke knew better. Knew that had Stoker known about him, he’d had brought Luke home for sure. He’d also seen to just what length his brothers and his father would go to help him, save his sorry hide so Luke had no doubt that he’s loved. But still, his proud self wanted to clear his own name so he can call himself a Legend without anything tarnishing his name.

Luke was working his way to find the man who was the actual the murderer. He also knew that the murderer framed him for a reason. But why? Luke thought he knew who it was, all he needed to do was to find the man and wrestle a confession out of him but things would turn out to be much more complicated that he could’ve ever expected. On the way to investigate, he comes across a scene where a girl was tied to a tree and being taunted by some outlaws Luke knew and despised. He had to save the damsel in distress, which he does. Seeing her all bloody and messy, he got anxious of her safety, but the Miss in question lets him know that it’s not her blood. She also lets him know that she can’t remember a damned thing about herself. Not a single thing, not her even name, let alone how she got herself into this debacle!

Knowing it’ll slow him down Luke takes up on her. He had no other safe place to take his damsel but to Lone Star, so despite all his misgivings, he plans to ride there. Soon, it was also smitten with the tall blonde. TBH that kinda killed the fun for me because it all seemed way too....easy? Convenient? It was definitely lust at first sight for both. Definitely not like how I thought Luke’s story will go. He was smitten and wanted the girl but he knew he had to take care of her messy business first; at the least find out who she was. Then there was his own business that’s still not resolved. Though in a few days she could recall her name as Josie, it also became clear that trouble was dogging her steps. There were quite a bit of trouble they had to wade through before they finally reached Lone Star.

In there, Stoker welcomes Josie. But soon, the need to investigate more starts bugging both Luke and Josie, who was dying to know her true identity. The attraction between them was also growing but Luke was still being a gentleman. Though I would’ve liked Josie’s identity being revealed before they became intimate, that doesn’t happen. Luke wanted to ride out himself, preferring to keep her safe, but Josie who is as stubborn as a mule and stupidly impulsive, would not be left behind. She begins stomping her feet so she can also accompany Luke. From earlier experience, he already knew what kinda trouble she was so he decides it’s better to take her than leave her here. That way he could keep an eye on her, even if it makes them both more vulnerable than he’s willing to acknowledge.

On this journey though, they wade through even more trouble, some of them Josie making (looks like Luke was forever rescuing her from one of her dumba$$ moves :/), they finally end up having sex on one night. I can’t give you an accurate description of all that happened because, TBH, by then I was simply skimming through to finish the book.

For me, Josie seemed waaaay too problematic than she was worth it and, to me, it seemed like Luke put up with her just because she was a beauty and he was insanely attracted to her. Also, I often wondered, how is that for all the problems she’d gotten themselves into, Josie remained in far better shape even though Luke finally ended up taking a bullet to his gut that could’ve ended his life. Yep, once again to save her from trouble. Even when I was worrying over Luke, I was going ‘good God, not again!’

I don’t know what happened, but I do acknowledge that I had a different vision for Luke’s story and Josie wasn’t the type of h I envisioned for him. His falling for her was too convenient, difficult to believe for a hardened guy like him. Even though I always loved and admired the Legends, their love for each-other and everything else in the story, romance-wise it was underwhelming for me. I couldn’t like anything about that part even though I tried my best. :( I’m not saying the author rushed through it, cause she put considerable amount of effort in this story to weave a tale with Josie’s troubles with Luke’s own problems leading to a believable conclusion. Still, I was not fond of Josie and couldn’t wait to finish the book.

I do love Linda Broday’s writing and enjoyed her stories so far so I’ll be waiting to see what she’s got up her sleeves next. I think this book brings the end to the Men of Legend series. Thankfully, I read on author’s website there’s a spin-off coming from this series next year (a bit of a long wait for me :(). Some of the characters have been introduced already, and I can’t wait to check it out! Meanwhile, 3.5 stars for To Marry a Texas Outlaw. I’d still recommend it because what bugged me may not bug you at all. Apart from my issues stated above, the story was enjoyable.


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