by Lori Handeland

October 2001
ISBN: 0-821-77107-8
Reviewer Graphic Button Zebra Books
Mass Market Paperback

Christmas Eve 1868

The infamous orphan train bound from New York City to the wild plains of Kansas, finds ten-year-old Ruth O’Leary alone, and scared out of her wits. With nothing to hang on to Ruth gravitates to fifteen-year-old Noah Walker, a mean tough street youth, but who Ruth sees as the sad lonely boy he really is. Arriving at their destination on Christmas Eve to the sleepy little Kansas town of Kelly Creek, Ruth is separated from her only friend, and placed with the wealthy Kelly family, founders of the town. Right before she leaves Noah’s safe arms she whispers to him that she will always love him and that no matter what they will return each Christmas Eve to the depot to find each other again. Ruth leaves with her new family, but Noah is given over to a mean mannered farmer, who has plans to use the youth as slave labor!

Each Christmas, for ten lonely years, Ruth journeys back to the train station to wait for Noah, who never arrives. Finally in 1878, a now grown twenty-year old Ruth faces facts, Noah is never coming back, and she must get on with her life. Ruth will accept Sheriff Leon Harker’s proposal of marriage, much to her controlling adoptive father’s delight. Just as Ruth is about to leave the depot for the last time, out of the shadows stumbles a wounded man. Noah! Shot during a bungled hold up attempt in a neighboring town, Noah now known as ruthless outlaw leader Billy Jo Kansas, has only one wish before he dies, to see his Ruth one more time. Ruth, the only person ever to show him any kindness and love. Ruth nurses Noah back to health, and is blinded by her love for him to what he truly is. Instead Ruth still sees the gentle Noah of her youth, her protector. Noah begins to believe there really are Christmas miracles, as no one recognizes him as “Billy Jo” and even Ruth’s father has accepted him as a suitor for his daughter. Maybe he can have the life and love he has always dreamed of. Just when it is in his reach, the past comes back to haunt him. Ruth wants to prove Noah’s innocence, but she will have to wait again for the magic of Christmas Eve, to receive the gift of true love.

An Outlaw For Christmas by Lori Handleland was a magical story, penned with heartwarming characters. The star crossed love of Ruth and Noah, the outlaw with a heart, will make you believe in miracles too! I highly recommend this to anyone with an inner child who yearns for the gift of love for Christmas!

Reviewed in January 2004 by Bonnie.

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