The Outlaw by Jennifer Millikan Review

Synopsis:

The Outlaw: An Enemies-to-lovers, Second chance romance (Hayden Family Book 3) by [Jennifer Millikin]

Bestselling author Jennifer Millikin delivers an emotional small-town romance about a misunderstood man and the woman who can set him free. 

There’s a thin line between being a hero and a villain, and I’m well aware I walk right down the middle of it. My reputation precedes me, even when I’m making a bad choice for the right reason. This is how I wind up in the back of a police car late one night. 

My infamous last name keeps my record clean, with a single caveat: community service at a ranch recently purchased by Jo Shelton. I think I’d rather go to jail than serve time with the woman who has made it clear she can’t stand me, even though we used to be friends.

Despite the tense atmosphere and how she keeps me at arms’ length, I show up every day, ready to work. Quickly I learn a valuable lesson: while it’s difficult being around someone I don’t like, it’s far more difficult being around someone I find myself intensely attracted to, but cannot have.

Because Jo, the woman who’s driving me crazy with her quiet strength and beautiful face, is in a relationship. With a man who, I’d like to point out, is not out there getting his hands dirty on his girlfriend’s ranch. Possession is 9/10th’s of the law, and as far as I’m concerned, I’m currently in possession of Jo’s time and attention. 

One day, the unexpected happens. Her blue eyes pierce my callused exterior, seeing deep down into a wound I work hard to hide. It’s in this moment, and so many that follow, that I become certain there’s no hope left for me. I’m in love with Jo, and I’m desperate to show her I’m someone worthy of her love in return.

Lucky for me, nobody rises to the occasion quite like an outlaw.

Other Books in the Series:

Review:

5 Stars

I’ll just go ahead and say read the series in order because it’ll make this book that much more enjoyable since there are some pretty spoilery stuff with both Wes and Warner’s families. I mean all of these books have HEAs so you know kind of what happens based on that alone, but there’s no spoilery stuff about the actual plot or events from their books other that they have HEAs based on the expanding families.

Like as much as I hate to say it but… Wyatt is now officially my favorite Hayden. Don’t get me wrong Wes and Warner have both been my number one’s at their own respective times, but there’s something really special about Wyatt.

For as long as Wyatt can remember, he’s always been seen as different compared to his other brothers. Wyatt has this part of him that is more emotional compared to the other’s and in the cattle industry at the Hayden Ranch it’s seen as a weakness; not saying that the others are completely heartless, but as we all know Wes is the man of few words and can be gruff and Warner is a bit more animated but nowhere close to Wyatt.

Wyatt is use to being the outcast of the family, but that doesn’t stop the hurt and anger of hearing that he doesn’t care about the family business as much as the others just because he isn’t interested in becoming Wes’s righthand man. Wyatt loves the land as much as the other Hayden’s but his heart isn’t in helping run the operation with Wes; he’s glad to do his job in breaking in the wild horses and helping where it’s needed.

Wyatt does his own thing and follows his own rules, and I think it’s because more outwardly morally gray like some characters in fantasy books is the reason I love Wyatt.

He knows that the whole town thinks the worse about him and his actions, yet he doesn’t let that stop him when it comes to protecting people to the best of his abilities.

Jo is an independent person whose learned from an early age that life is hard, and when she hears about an old ranch that’s for sale, she buys in so she can turn it into a retreat for troubled youth.

From the first page I knew what Jo’s secret was, how? I don’t know, but I just had a feeling about it.

Jo has sworn that after a night in Phoenix a couple of years ago when she had slept with Wyatt, and he forgot about it since he was drunk, that she would fall for that Hayden ago. But, fate (aka the sheriff) has a way of working things out when Wyatt is assigned community work and is now helping Jo with fixing the old ranch. Jo begrudgingly allows him to help.

At first she’s fine with allowing him to help clean up and do jobs around the property, but the longer that she’s around him she sees that he’s not the same person that he was two years ago and her anger and hurt starts to turn back into the crush that she had when she was a teenager in high school.

After proving through his actions that he would do anything in the world to make Jo see him as a different man who would do anything for her, he slowly wins back the heart that she had somehow given to him.

Their relationship is going great and the whole Hayden family is thrilled to see a woman finally stand up to Wyatt and put him in his place, and despite the rumors that the town has about Wyatt, Jo trusts him.

All is good until the things start to escalate when Jo’s mom calls her and all but tells Jo that she’s ready to get rid of her younger brother Travis by sending him to military school to straighten him out and teach him responsibility. Jo leaves immediately and drives about 6 hours to bring him back with her to live on the ranch. And, just as they are starting to settle into a routine another accident happens that could not only cost her that ranch that she is remodeling to help teenagers but her relationship with Wyatt and Travis.

This book was fast paced with romance and passion between Jo and Wyatt as they help heal each other. The Outlaw is interesting because it doesn’t show a lot of the ranch like Wes and Warner’s books did in the sense of the whole cattle and ranch operation, but it also shows a different side of the Hayden family dynamic as Wyatt is the different brother who loves the ranch but doesn’t want to advance his job to something more. This book still has the whole cowboy/western/country vibes going on but we get to see more of the small town that they live in and all that stuff. It’s kind of hard to explain, but this book seems to have a slightly different vibe that I’m pretty sure is all thanks to Wyatt.

Happy reading until next time,

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