Penelope Williamson’s classic bestseller blends the best of historical western and Amish romance in a sweeping tale “sure to please any fan of good old-fashioned storytelling” (Library Journal).
A daughter of the faith…a stranger with a gun…a forbidden love.
Throughout the years on her Montana homestead, Rachel Yoder had never been afraid—the creed of the Plain People had been her strength. Then the day came when lawless men killed Rachel’s husband in an act of blind greed. Now, at her darkest hour, an outsider walks across her meadow and into her life…
Johnny Cain is bloody, near death, and armed to the teeth. A man hardened by his violent past, Cain has never known a woman like Rachel—someone who offers him a chance to heal more than his physical wounds.
Cain’s lazy smile and teasing ways steal Rachel's heart and confound her soul. Soon she must choose between all she holds dear—her faith, her family, perhaps her very salvation—and the man they call the Outsider.
For her latest western romance, Williamson (Heart of the West) adapts the recipe used in the John Wayne film Angel and the Badman (itself retooled for Harrison Ford in Witness): take one strong-willed, God-fearing Plain woman; add one worldly tough guy with a penchant for firearms; dramatize the difference between redemption and revenge; and stir. Time passes steadily with a "sweet sameness" for the hardworking Plain People in the Montana mountain valley where they raise their sheep, until one bleak late-winter day in 1886, when wounded gunslinger Johnny Cain staggers into widow Rachel Yoder's hay meadow, leaving a trail of bloody footprints. Rachel tends to the handsome stranger, who gradually recovers and seems to bond with Benjo, her stuttering nine-year-old son. Filled with "the smells of fried mush and blood," "the sour stink of sheep" and "the whispered perfume of apple blossoms," The Outsider contains plenty of details that nicely evoke the hardships of life on the frontier, along with the simple joys. Dialogue ranges from terse (Plain people aren't big talkers) to corny: "I know I'm nothin' but a worthless chippy, a whore, a tart, sportin' gal and fancy gal," says the town prostitute to the town doctor. The plot is unreservedly melodramatic, as some evil ranchers plot against the Plain people and Johnny and Rachel hem and haw their way toward consummating their forbidden love. But there are enough supporting characters and subplots to keep historical romance fans turning the pages all the way to the bittersweet ending, in which the relative merits of revenge and redemption come to somewhat of a stalemate.