by Anna C. Bowling

January 2006
ISBN: 1-58749-536-8
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Tabetha Small thought she would be alone after the death of her grandfather. She hadn’t counted on the presence of a kind stranger. Once Tabetha realized her grandfather had been a friend of the stranger named Dalby, she was glad for his company. She was also grateful for his help with her grandfather because she didn’t think she could have managed alone. Yet, it was that same assistance that landed her in a mess.

A snowstorm prevented Tabetha from going to town for help with her grandfather. Christian Dalby stayed through the night. He’d promised Josiah he would look after Tabetha if anything were to happen. When family friend Gray Wolf arrived it was to see Tabetha and Dalby together. Though nothing had even come close to happening, still the old Indian knew Tabetha needed some one by her side. The law stated a single woman couldn’t live alone. Gray Wolf volunteered to go to town for Tabetha and make necessary arrangements. She didn’t realize he would tell people that she was betrothed to Dalby! Before she knew it, folks had started planning her wedding. Perhaps that dream of having a life similar to her grandparents was not as far off as she’d first believed.

Dalby had done so much for her. True, he did it in memory of his friend, but did he have to stick his hand into a fire for grandfather? No, that he did for Tabetha and her reputation. Dalby had been branded a thief. A puckered scar in the shape of a ‘T’ marred the back of his hand. In order to prevent the people from seeing it, he thrust his hand into flames. He hoped to cover the old scar with new ones. He also knew that people wouldn’t spread much gossip if Tabetha was boarding an invalid. Christian Dalby sacrificed more than his skin for Tabetha. He was willing to sacrifice his solitude on the mountain. Will Tabetha welcome this thief when she finds that not all of Christian Dalby’s actions were due to obligation?

My Outcast Heart by Anna C. Bowling is rich in detail of 18th Century everyday life. This can be good or bad. I felt the author tended to give more attention to details than to the characters. They were one-dimensional. I would like to have seen more of Tabetha’s personality. I wanted to know why she made certain decisions; I wanted to believe Christian Dalby felt strongly for Tabetha and not just be told he felt that way.

Ms. Bowling shows a talent for making a strong storyteller. I hope to see that ability shine in her next novel.

Reviewed in March 2006 by Rho.

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