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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Lost Hearts by Kathy Otten

Lost Hearts by Kathy Otten
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical (Western)
Length: Full length (354 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 Books
Reviewed by Camellia

Trapped in a life of violence and abuse, Johnny Bodine disguises her femininity and dreams of a family who loves her.

Haunted by flashbacks he can't remember, from a war he wants desperately to forget, U.S. Deputy Marshal Richard Bennick arrives in Indian Territory with warrants for a notorious outlaw and his feisty, irreverent son, Johnny.

As they journey through the dangerous Choctaw Nation, Richard and Johnny must learn to trust each other in order to survive, forming a unique bond of love between outlaw and lawman that can only be broken by Richard's oath to uphold the law, and by the justice of the hangman's noose.

Johnny Bodine’s secret and her not-so-secret terror ties her to a life with outlaws—a life of abuse and experiences that scarred her psyche and soul. But she is a survivor and in spite of all the trauma, her sense of humor and feisty ways emerge as she is forced to deal with U. S. Deputy Marshal Richard Bennick.

Richard Bennnick is a by-the-book lawman who is trying to redeem himself for his part in the Civil War where he was a sharpshooter and often called a murderer. He suffers from what is now called post-traumatic stress disorder. His flashbacks get mixed with the gun battles and places he deals with as a deputy marshal, making it impossible for him to separate present actions from past actions. The horrors he experienced block his memory and put him at risk of going to prison for things he did not do.

Lawman and outlaw bond with an affinity few could understand. Neither of them expects much from life, but the love and loyalty that motivate Johnny show a strong, young woman who faces down all comers to keep her word to the lawman who had turned her over to the authorities to be tried by Judge Parker (the hanging judge).

Kathy Otten’s skill with dialect and her use of expressions like “…bossy like you think you’re God’s own cousin”, "… mules must come to you for stubborn lessons”, and “…born tired and raised lazy” make Lost Hearts irresistible reading. Her graphic descriptions and life-like characterizations create a memorable story about a resilient woman and the redemption of a tortured soul in what seems like an impossible situation for love to overcome astronomical obstacles.

Lost Hearts grabs one’s attention and holds on to the very end.