Do Not Forsake Me by Rosanne Bittner
Why This One: I’ve just been waiting for it for-evah it seems
Steam Level: Hot, hot hot!
Outline: Miranda Hayes' life was changed the day she faced down infamous gunslinger Jake Harkner...and walked away with his heart. Their fates have been intertwined ever since. Hunted by the law, fleeing across a savage land, their desperate love flourished despite countless sorrows. Now, twenty-six years later, their family has finally found some measure of peace...balanced on the knife's edge of danger.
Jake has spent his years as a U.S. Marshal atoning for sins, bringing law to the land he once terrorized. But no matter how hard he fights the demons of his brutal past, the old darkness still threatens to consume him. Only Miranda keeps the shadows at bay. But when outlaws looking for revenge strike a fatal blow, Jake risks losing the one woman who saw past his hard exterior and to the man inside.
He always knew there'd be the devil to pay. He just never realized he might not be the one to bear the ultimate price.
My Thoughts: I’ve been waiting for this one for a long time. I’ve been simple mad for Jake and Randy from Outlaw Heats ever since I first read it twenty years ago and I was beyond delighted when I heard there was a sequel planned and preordered it the first moment I could. When it came I set aside time to get back into the amazing love these two have for each other. I finished it in about a day and a half. So now the big question is what did I think?
Hmmm. I am so glad that I read it but it’s not going to get quite as high of marks as Outlaw Hearts did. The central love story was Amazing. It’s so refreshing to see that Jake and Randy are just as much in love and passionate love at that as they were when they first met twenty six years earlier. Their need for each other hasn’t dimmed not even one candle’s worth and I love that about them. Here’s a brief outline for those who haven’t read Outlaw Hearts – first piece of advice, READ IT! Not because you have to have read it to read and understand this one, I don’t think you necessarily do, but Outlaw Hearts is such a wonderful book and the love story between outlaw Jake Harkner and widow Miranda Hayes is so compelling and so beautiful it would be a shame NOT to read it.
Jake Harkner was an outlaw, a bad guy who did bad things. He and Miranda meet when he gets into a shootout in a general store and Miranda inadvertently shoots him. He rides out of town and somehow ends up at her farmstead and when she gets home, she nurses him back to health. She has plans to go west and once she gets to know the good and tender side of Jake that he keeps hidden, she asks him to take her. He refuses and she sets off on her own but when Jake has second thoughts and worries about her, he follows and finds her in desperate circumstances. He takes care of her and the love they share deepens and grows and much against his better judgement, they marry. But his outlaw past comes back to haunt them again and again. He spends time in jail and at the end of Outlaw Hearts, he has been released an ordered to become a deputy marshal and put the bad guys, of whom he used to be one.
Do Not Forsake Me starts a year or so later and Jake is now a full-fledged marshal and he and his son Lloyd are just headed back into a town in Montana with some bad guys. During the arrest, they had to kill some of the outlaws and now they have become a target for revenge. This is nothing new for Jake; he was a lot in Outlaw Heats too. But Jake is getting older, he’s in his 50’s and he’s really starting to feel some of the injuries that he has suffered in his violent past. He’s worried about his son Lloyd and his daughter Evie, along with his beloved wife Randy will be targets for those looking for revenge against him. And he is right to be worried as one of them does become a victim. Saying too much would be spoilers and I don’t want to do that so I won’t give any more away about the story. Instead I’ll say what worked and what didn’t quite so well.
Jake and Randy. I loved them both just as much in this book. While Jake is still very much a gray character, he still kills without remorse those who deserve to die, Randy is his touchstone. She keeps him from completely going to the dark side and he knows she does. He needs her and he tells her that though out the story in so many tender and romantic ways. Though tough on the outside, he’s so soft when it comes to his family.
Jeff Trubridge. This is a character who has decided to write a book about the infamous Jake Harkner. At first we don’t if he is shady or a good kind of writer. But thankfully he’s a good kind of writer and he and Jake develop a very nice rapport. Jake decided to bring him along with he and Lloyd so Jeff can get a personal and close up view of what they deal with as US marshals. Jake likes him and there some humorous moments in times of great tension. And I love Jeff’s observations on the complex man that Jake is.
The story itself. It’s nice to follow up with characters years later and see where they are at. As a sequel this works great.
Now for the things that didn’t work quite as well
Lloyd. I just couldn’t warm up to him at all. He did a few things I really didn’t like, one in particular that sent him to the dark side and will have repercussions I do believe in the next book, yes, Ms. Bittner has plans for another one in this series *fist pump of joy*. I just couldn’t connect with his character.
Jakes smoking. Now I realize that this was the old west and long before we knew the dangers of smoking, and I’m an ex smoker myself and I have no issues with a character smoking. But it seems like he was constantly smoking - All. The. Time. I just wish she (the author) hadn’t written so much about it.
And that’s about it for what didn’t work so well for me. A very short list isn’t it. But there was nothing in Outlaw Hearts that bothered me at all, thus the reason that Do Not Forsake Me is graded slightly lower. But I have no problems whatsoever recommending this book to those who love a good Western and even though who don’t, who just love a story about enduring love and a wickedly delicious gray hero.
Grade: 4.5 out of 4
Will I read it again: Oh yes, yes, yes
Will I read it again: Oh yes, yes, yes
Happily - a hearty thumbs ups