A Willful Woman…

Thoughts about books from a romance addict.

TBR Challenge 4/21: Outlaw in Paradise by Patricia Gaffney

on April 21, 2021

The theme: My favorite, old school!

Why this one: I think this is last Gaffney romance I hadn’t read.

I don’t remember ever seeing this Gaffney discussed much and from that, had assumed it was one of her earlier books, before she’d really hit her stride. In fact, it’s actually the last romance she wrote before switching to fiction. And though it can’t compare with amazing books like Wild at Heart and To Have and to Hold, it’s definitely Gaffney.

Jesse Gault rides into Paradise, Oregon, dressed all in black, his reputation proceeding him. He’s the rootinest, tootinest gunslinger in the Wild West. And local businesswoman Cady McGill is pretty concerned when he rents a room above her saloon, the Rogue. But when she actually meets him, he’s not quite what she’d expected.

“She had the strangest sensation: that she’d just had a conversation with two men, not one, and she had no idea which was real. Or which one interested her more.”

Cady’s not wrong. Far from being a ruthless gun for hire, Jess is actually a conman with a somewhat inconvenient heart of gold. His method works great: stay in a town for awhile, and wait while anyone with a guilty conscience pays him not to kill them. But between his immediate interest in Cady, his friendship with the young son of her bartender, and his general good nature, Jesse finds it hard to maintain his sinister facade, slowly becoming a member of the community. He even manages to overcome Cady’s reluctance to get involved with a killer.

But when Cady and the town are threatened, and really need a gunslinger, Jesse is caught in his own bluff.

Outlaw in Paradise is maybe… middle-aged school rather than old school. Cady is a gently-used heroine rather than a virgin. There are positive (but sometimes cringey) portrayals of characters of color. And Jesse is most definitely a beta hero but not one of the Practically Perfect in Every Way betas of today’s romance. He’s a loveable rogue, almost a goofball. (One GoodReaders reviewer found him just too useless to be acceptable as a romance hero.) There’s some heavy moments in the book, but a lot of it is kind of like a big party, with plenty of carousing and canoodling; even the sex scenes are as likely to leave you smiling as sweating. Gaffney didn’t go out with a bang, but it is a pretty sweet farewell.

2 responses to “TBR Challenge 4/21: Outlaw in Paradise by Patricia Gaffney

  1. kristiej says:

    I read this one years ago and enjoyed it well enough but you’re right. It’s not up there with Wild at Heart, my favourite of all her books or To Have and to Hold

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