Renegade is an unusual mix of trad romance, historical fiction and Western hero story , with a twist of fantasy fiction and a dollop of Xena. It was originally Xena fan-fiction and published as a novel in 2009 when it was a finalist for The Golden Crown Literary Society’s Best Debut Author.
I love Western lesfic romances, and this was the first I remember reading. It’s the combination of the better cowboy movies I grew up watching with my dad and the personal thrill of seeing how women cope with their double lives, wrapping, cross dressing and presenting as straight couples to survive as themselves with the lives and loves they have chosen.
Like Jae’s brilliant Oregon series Renegade doesn’t pretend the women could have been an ‘out’ couple, it deals with the reality of life for women of the time, bullied, raped, and treated as the chattels of the less pleasant male characters.
Trace, Rachel and the other women are very real, their personalities complex and founded on deep back histories. Their actions consistently reinforce the women they have become. At the same time there are a wide range of sympathetic male characters who gradually stand up and support Trace against the baddies including a really well presented relationship with the Native American tribe who have settled the area.
Once the initial sci-fi moment is over, this becomes a classic Wild West story of the strong sheriff saving a down-beaten town from the evil bullies, except of course the sheriff is a woman with rather unusual skills.
Excellent romance, unusual and interesting twist to set up the juxtaposition of 21st century cop in the late 1890’s, and a seriously enjoyable page turner. I never had a doubt Trace would succeed both romantically and saving the town, but that never detracted from the pleasure of finding out how the story would enfold. Definitely one for the re-read pile, and if you haven’t visited Sagebrush yet, suspend your disbelieve and buy this new edition.
(publisher review copy received)
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