Nicole Tracy | Literary Columnist
The Orphan Train trilogy is a set of three historical romance novels by Linda Lael Miller. Set in the Old West, they follow three ladies through their early years as orphans from Chicago to their adulthood in the wild west.Today’s selection is book two of the series, Emma and the Outlaw follows the story of the middle sister, Emma.
As always, when you picks up the book and read the synopsis on the back cover, you will read this: “Despite her unconventional upbringing — she’d been adopted off the orphan train by the local “madam” — Emma Chalmers was the most prim and proper young lady in all of Whitneyville. Why, she wouldn’t even permit Fulton Whitney to kiss her, and they were practically engaged!
But when Steven Fairfax landed in her home, wounded in an explosion at the town’s raunchiest saloon, his lazy smile made Emma’s blood race. Slowly, Steven stilled her fears with his gentle, insistent caresses…until at last she gave herself unashamedly to the splendid passion that was their destiny. Yet now Emma faced a new terror — for the drifter she loved so desperately was a wanted man, and his past was about to catch up with him!”
The story is essentially a tale of love involving Emma, a young woman of 20, a librarian who has also set out to find her two sisters, all who were abandoned by their mother at a young age. Emma places an ad offering a reward for information leading to the whereabouts of her sister. Emma is also engaged to marry a man she does not love, but feels obligated to marry anyway.
All of this changes the day, Steven Fairfax, a man termed “an outlaw” comes into town and walks into Emma’s life. From that day on Emma is a changed woman and when she takes on the duty of nursing Steven after he is injured, she becomes further aware of him and he of her.
Emma forgets that she is an engaged woman when Steven’s charms begin to work on her. Even though he has a checkered past, Emma cannot forget how she feels towards Steven. Also, Emma cannot forget her desire to locate her sisters, Lily and Caroline Chalmers.
Emma and the Outlaw is one of the reviewer’s “go to” novels when nothing else sounds good to read. The story is just that good. The hilarious wit of Emma mixed with the charming arrogance of Steven, makes this book an absolute page turning delight.
Add in the most unlikely mother, Chloe, who just happens to be the local madam, the humorous retorts from maid Daisy and the antics of Fulton and you have a treasure trove of characters that will keep you hoping the story will never end, just so you can spend time in their world a little longer. The story even comes complete with a murder mystery that needs to be solved and has a twist in the end that you don’t see coming. It’s hard to not find something to like about this story.
Being as it is a romance novel, there are some explicit scenes in it. While the love scenes are very passionate and sensual, they really do leave little to the imagination, and that is the one flaw in an otherwise mostly perfect story. If that kind of thing would bother you, the reviewer would be hard pressed to recommend this book for you, but otherwise, it’s a delightful story, and due to the reviewer’s experience, it is possible to skip the scenes entirely, and still have the story make sense.