In my opinion there are three things that make a book good. Great characters, a fast paced story with lots of twists and turns and an unpredictable ending. An Outlaw In Wonderland by Lori Austin has all three of those ingredients. I don’t consider myself a fan of romance novels, in fact in the past I would have seen the cover for this one and avoided it. That being said, this is the second book I’ve read by Lori Austin and I’m happy to say that my perception of romances was wrong. the characters in Lori’s books are deep and the plot of her story is complex and fascinating.
An Outlaw In Wonderland is the second book in The Once Upon A time in The West series but it is a self-contained story and you won’t get confused if you haven’t read the first one. The story begins with Dr. Ethan Walsh working as a doctor in a confederate hospital. His passion is to save lives and see the Civil War come to an end. He notices the skills of his matron, Annabeth Phelan and makes her his head nurse. Annabeth has another task also, she has to find the Union spy in the hospital.
I don’t want to give away too much of the storyline because I thought the best part of the book was trying to figure out what was going to happen next. From the description you get the idea that the story is mostly going to take place in a confederate hospital but it doesn’t take long for it to move on to other locations. My one complaint of this book was that at times it felt like it was moving too fast and a little more time should have been spent on scenes such as when some secrets were found out in Freedom Kansas.
My favorite character in the book was Annabeth, she is a strong female character and nothing like I would expect a woman in a romance novel or a woman in the old west to be like. You see her grow and change throughout the book and even though she is a woman in a time where women were not looked at as equals to men, everyone takes her seriously because she comes across as tough and smart. In one scene after she helps deliver a baby, she says to the woman’s husband: “kiss your wife.” Then Ethan points out when Annabeth uses a certain tone everyone does what she says. I felt this scene really showed the kind of person she was.
I also liked in the story how Lori Austin makes the west come alive with her descriptions of Kansas, the confederate hospital and prison. I really got a feeling of what the time period was like and felt the author did her homework. The love story between Annabeth and Ethan was excellent. There were some great plot twists that made me wonder how this couple was going to end up together. It was obvious how they felt but there were a lot of things keeping them apart and it was interesting to see how they would overcome the obstacles.
I think An Outlaw In Wonderland works on a lot of different levels and even if you are not a fan of historical romances you will enjoy it. Lori Austin is the pen name for Lori Handeland and now that I’ve read a couple of her works I’m looking forward to more in the Once Upon A Time In The West series and to reading her other works as well. Another thing Lori has done for me is make me sorry that I avoided the romance genre for so long, does anyone else know of any good romances out there?