Grace A. Johnson
Review: The Bounty Hunter's Bride by Janis Jakes
Synopsis: Luke Lancaster has been a successful bounty hunter across the state of Texas...until he encounters his next bounty, a young man charged with murder, and realizes there’s much more to Billie Batson than meets the eye. For starters, Billie is a she, and she may not be as guilty as she seems… Luke and Billie, two unlikely allies, have to prove her innocence and bring justice to the actual criminals before it’s too late.
I’ll be honest here. I signed up to read this The Bounty Hunter’s Bride on the title alone...and the fact that Luke is a half-breed. I didn’t expect much of the writing or the story, and going into it, it seemed like it was going to deliver on my low expectations.
And yet, as I waded deeper into this story of deceit, danger, and romance, I discovered a few treasures in this fast-paced western!
After reading The Element of Love by Mary Connealy (and being sorely disappointed in the story’s execution), I was so pleased at how well TBHB was developed and written! The prose was nothing special—in fact, it was stilted at times and not the most balanced—and some things did need more build-up, foreshadowing, and description to be believable, so it certainly wasn’t perfect!
However...there were too many pros to this story for me to put it down! (That, and I’m kinda required to finish and review it...but still. *winks*) First off, no. questionable. content. I have been getting SO TIRED of reading Christian fiction with expletives, weird or downright wrong theology, secular worldviews, CRT and progressive agendas, and more. Fortunately, The Bounty Hunter’s Bride is just a fun, engaging read—nothing more, nothing less. There’s no subliminal message, no agenda, nothing to turn you off from the book or make you uncomfortable. It’s the kind of story I used to read and the one I need more of now (not that I don’t like deeper, grittier stories...I just want Biblical deep grittiness, not worldly junk).
Second, what usually turns me off to a story is—you guessed it—the characters. Now, Luke and Billie Jo weren’t the most immersive or loveable characters I’ve ever read. I never connected with Billie (no surprise), and Luke’s character had some moments of inconsistency (and moments were it was glaringly obvious he was written by a woman)...BUT I actually liked Billie Jo and Luke quite a bit! Billie wasn’t a tough, feminist heroine trying to be someone/something she wasn’t...she was kind, compassionate, genuine, and quite honestly just an average young schoolteacher! Luke was both gruff and tender, a swoon-worthy combination in my mind, and naturally, I fall head over heels for any hero with native blood!
Their characters really had time to shine in the separation period they had. Instead of jumping headfirst into the romance and action, the author developed the characters and gave them some time on their own to (1) get stuff done without their relationship complicating things and (2) deepen their characters! I absolutely loved watched Abigail care for Billie and then vice versa! (Speaking of...Abigail was awesome. I adored her. And, while on the subject of side characters, may I add that I seriously want a story about White Feather?)
This lull—although it didn’t drag, by any means—also helped develop the story, which was perfect after the first chapter, which was all rapid-fire (literally) action. Speaking of action...the pacing was actually super smooth! It kept moving at an even but quick pace, and because there weren’t too many confusing or complicated subplots, the faster pace worked well! I mean, there was a lot going on toward the second half there, but it wasn’t jumbled or weird or out of place! Everything was taken in stride, you know?
On that note...toward the end of the book, Luke and Billie are separated again, and y’all. I don’t think I’ve ever been so glad to see the hero and heroine apart! And what I mean by that, is that Luke and Billie were able to take care of things and get stuff settled before committing to each other (instead of bringing in baggage or rushing off right before the wedding *winks*), and you were able to see their gentle love bloom (absence makes the heart grow fonder, you know) while they grew stronger as Christians and individuals. I don’t know, it just made the romance more genuine and relatable, instead of the characters being on top of each other (figuratively) all the time and them never experiencing any growth on an individual level.
(Basically, they were productive. They didn’t sit there, pouting and pining for each other. I appreciated that. As much as I like mushy, emotional romances, sometimes I need something practical. Sweet, but practical.)
Also...y’all. There were themes and Christian content and it was so subtle and beautiful and just perfect!!! Like, everyone thinks that even the slightest whiff of Christianity in your story will make it preachy, but The Bounty Hunter’s Bride is the perfect example of faith elements being a completely natural part of the story that enhances it! More than that, Billie and Luke’s faith arcs played a role in their relationship that was so precious to see! We need more romances that are made of three cords instead of just two, you know? (And that goes for real life too…)
Long story short, I was blown away by how much I enjoyed this novel! It was tender and sweet, faithful and true, and action-packed and suspenseful! Sure, it had its moments where I facepalmed, but I made it through! And there’s a lot to appreciate about The Bounty Hunter’s Bride and how the story—as simple as it is—was executed!
Disclaimer: A complimentary copy of this book was provided by the publisher, publicist, or author, including NetGalley and CelebrateLit Publicity. All opinions expressed are my own.
about the book
Bounty hunter Luke Lancaster brings the best of both worlds to his work—the tracking skills of his Comanche father and the marksmanship he learned from his missionary grandfather.
When Luke is hired to track down a young man wanted for murder, he assumes it’s a routine capture, but he’s taken on a wild ride when he discovers that the accused is actually an innocent school teacher who knows too much for her own good.
Determined to uncover the truth, Luke sets out to keep himself and Billie alive while bringing the real outlaws to justice. As they race across Texas, Luke falls more in love with Billie. But could a schoolteacher ever want a half-Comanche bounty hunter? Does Luke stand a chance or is he just her ride to freedom?
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about the author
Janis Jakes encourages women through inspirational fiction and non-fiction. She is a Texas native with a penchant for winding country roads, faded jeans, street tacos, and fiery West Texas sunsets.
You can connect with her at her website janisjakes.com!
a word from the author
It wasn’t unusual to find dime-store western novels on my grandfather’s nightstand. As a young girl, I poured through the yellowed, dog-eared pages. There was just something about the characters—resilient women, courageous men, and hardened outlaws—combined with the rugged terrain and inevitable showdown—that drew me deeper into every story.
In writing The Bounty Hunter’s Bride I wanted to capture the western element while creating faith-filled characters facing an uncertain future. Billie and Luke confront relentless peril with true western grit—finding victory over past regret and love as big as the Texas sky.
Hidden Facts: Billie is named for my mother, who passed away unexpectedly when I was still in high school; she was in her late thirties. The boy’s ranch idea came from a Christian boy’s ranch less than ten miles from my home. And, the early scenery depicted in the story is from my neck of the woods and the land I adore—West Texas.
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yours in spirit and script,
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