E.E. Burke's Best of the West: The Last Outlaw by Rosanne Bittner

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Today I'm delighted to share in an exciting day for my dear friend, USA Today bestselling author Rosanne Bittner as she releases her fourth (and final?) novel in the Outlaw Hearts saga.


Times have changed, and the old Wild West is a thing of the past. Nestled in his beautiful Colorado ranch, surrounded by family, infamous former outlaw Jake Harkner’s hung up his guns for good and finally found a measure of peace.  But dark memories haunt the woman who has always been his strength, and not even Jake is certain he can save his beloved Miranda this time.  All he can do is swear to remain by her side.

But it takes more than a hope for peace to outrun a past defined by violence, and it isn’t long before Jake is embroiled in a rescue mission he simply can’t refuse. Life has brought him back full circle as he rides into Mexico to save a young girl from a dreadful fate … leaving Miranda behind one final time, fearing the other half of her soul is destined to die the way he’s always lived – by the gun.

Here's an excerpt...
            (To the reader: Randy is trying to be strong, knowing Jake is leaving whether she likes it or not. This follows a torrid love scene between them the night before, so I like the little teasing remark here about Randy being “decent.” It’s a tiny “lift” from the very tense and sad event that Jake is leaving and might not make it back this time. I am leaving out a good bit of passage between what I’ve written here and the ending of this same chapter.  The break is designated by   ……….  In that missing passage there are some very tearful good-byes – a family prayer – a dark dread. And to clarify – Sadie Mae, is Jake’s precious granddaughter, only five years old.  Brian is Jake’s son-in-law, a doctor, and “Little Jake” is Jake’s grandson, who worships the ground Jake walks on.)

Be strong, Randy, she told herself. Be strong for him so it won’t be so hard for him to leave.  She hurried down the stairs and put a kettle of coffee on the coal cooking stove and lit a fire under it.  She didn’t want to look then, but she had to.  She’d deliberately avoided seeing what she didn’t want to see when she first came down the stairs, keeping herself busy with the coffee and setting out some bread.
Finally she had no choice but to face him, now Jake Harkner the outlaw.  Already her husband was strapping on his famous .44’s.  He wore denim pants, the blue shirt that she loved, and a brown leather vest, looking both incredibly handsome and incredibly dangerous at the same time.
He shoved another hand gun into the back of his gun belt. Every loop in that belt had a cartridge in it. Another belt of cartridges lay on the kitchen table.  A repeating rifle and a shot gun lay there, too. He packed more cartridges and some shot gun slugs into a saddle bag and set everything, including a duffel bag of clothes, near the door, then took down his black Stetson from where it hung on the wall and set it with his gear.
“Tricia and Sadie Mae will be afraid of you, looking like you do right now,” Randy told him.  “They’ve never see you quite so decked out with guns, and they have certainly never seen your dark side.”
“They won’t be afraid.  They know their grandpa.”
Someone knocked.  “Mother, are you decent?”
Randy looked at Jake and smiled.  Am I?”
Jake walked up to her and leaned down to plant a long kiss on her mouth.  “No.  You’re the most indecent woman I’ve ever known.”
“Well, you did that to me.  I used to be decent.”
He kissed her once more and went to the door, opening it to see Evie and Brian and Little Jake and Sadie Mae all standing there, Evie holding the baby.  Her eyes widened.  “Daddy, you look mean and angry, just like you used to look before leaving on another mission in Oklahoma.  You’d better smile for Sadie Mae or she might run away.”
Sadie Mae stood there staring.  “Are you grampa?”
(I might add here that during breakfast and good-byes, Randy insisted Jake eat something because he’s refused. He finally takes a biscuit from her and some coffee and goes to stand near the fireplace.  This is important here because of how this chapter ends – a sad omen.  Also in this part, Jake says something very loving to Randy in Spanish, something he’s prone to do in emotional moments.)
Outlaw snorted and tossed his head, a big, strong, black horse that seemed made just for a man like Jake Harkner.  The horse turned nervously in a circle.  Jake scanned his family.  He would never get over the fact that they all came from his blood.  How could that be possible?
He looked at Randy.  She’d made it all possible.  "Lo nuestro ser ‘a eterno, Randy … esta tierra es eterno … tu y yo estaremos unidos eternamente.  Tue res mi vida, mi querida esposa.”  (You and I forever, my darling, my loving wife.)  He turned Outlaw and kicked the horse into a gentle lope.
Randy watched him ride off, as she’d done too many times before.  “God be with you, my beloved,” she whispered.  She turned and hurried into the house. She couldn’t watch him disappear over the distant rise.  She hurried to his chair, which was where she knew she’d sleep with his pillow until he returned.  She couldn’t bear lying alone in their big bed upstairs.  She curled up into the chair and studied the family picture above the fireplace.  There sat Jake, in the center of it all, surrounded by his beautiful children and grandchildren … the man she’d met all those years ago in a supply store, bearded, angry, wild, dangerous, notorious … a wanted man who never once in his life had known love.  She thought about his remark to Lloyd, the one that worried her most of all. In a way I’ve always been alone.
It was then she noticed it on the fireplace mantle … a half-finished cup of coffee … and an uneaten biscuit.

Meet Rosanne

USA TODAY Bestselling Author Rosanne Bittner has written and published 66 novels over the past 40 years, and she promises more to come!  Rosanne’s first love is American history, especially the Old West and Native Americans.  Her well-researched books cover real events and locations from the Revolutionary War through the discovery of gold, the Civil War, the building of the Union Pacific, the Indian wars, the founding of our great western cities and the late 1800’s Yukon gold rush. She has won numerous writing awards, including a RITA nomination. She was named “Queen of Western Romance,” by Romantic Times Reviews, who nominated her second “Outlaw” book, DO NOT FORSAKE ME, for best western romance for 2015.  Nearly all of her novels have garnered over 95% five-star reviews from Amazon readers and great reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and other writing publications.  Rosanne belongs to several historical societies and is an active volunteer in a local charity organization.  She is a member of Romance Writers of America and Women Writing the West.  She and her husband of over 50 years live in southwest Michigan. Together they have traveled the west for over 40 of those years, mostly for research for Rosanne’s stories.  Her newest novel, THE LAST OUTLAW, is out September 5, 2017, followed in October by a Christmas story involving the same family.  It’s called A CHICK-A-DEE CHRISTMAS and will be published in an anthology called CHRISTMAS IN A COWBOY’S ARMS.

Goodreads - www.goodreads.com/author/show/67759.Rosanne_Bittner
Facebook:  www.facebook.com/RosanneBittnerAuthor
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/rbamericanhisto/

E.E.: Do you write while listening to music? 
Rosanne: Oh, my, YES! For one thing, my office is in the corner of my living room and my hubby is hard of hearing, so the TV gets pretty loud.  I put on my special ear phones and block it all out with “mood” music.  My favorite is an album containing all the theme songs from great western movies, like The Big Country and Old Gringo and Hang ‘Em High. They are on an album called “The Way West”, most of the music by the Philadelphia Philharmonic Orchestra.

E.E.: If you could travel into the past, where would you go and why? 
Rosanne: Well, if my beloved Jake Harkner really lived, I would go visit the J&L in Colorado in the 1880’s. Otherwise, in reality I would love to be involved in the Oklahoma land rush.

E.E.: What’s the first thing you do when you finish a book?  
Rosanne: Cry. I immediately miss my characters and I don’t want the story to end, which is why I write so many sequels.

E.E.: Tea or coffee?   
Rosanne: COFFEE – 24 HOURS A DAY.

E.E.: What does it mean to love someone?  
Rosanne: You ignore their faults and the little things that annoy you because you know deep inside he will always be there for you and no one else will love you as much.  In my case, my husband is always looking out for me being taken care of if and when he is gone from my life. He saves and plans for that, and that (to me) is just as romantic as hugs and kisses.

E.E.: What’s your favorite “love” word?  
Rosanne: Adore.  Jake uses that word a lot in referring to his beloved Miranda.  He adores her, and in his words, she is the air he breathes.

E.E.: What’s the first book you remember reading?  
Rosanne: The first full novel I remember reading is A LANTERN IN HER HAND by Bess Streeter Aldrich.  That book got me started on wanting to write about pioneers.  I recommend it to ALL PEOPLE of ALL AGES.  A wonderful story!

E.E.: What was your most rewarding publishing moment?
Rosanne: When my Sourcebooks editor told me she read OUTLAW HEARTS in her teens and would love to read a sequel, which I’d had in mind to write for about 20 years. I cried when I learned someone finally wanted that sequel, and that has now turned into 4 books with a fifth book planned.

E.E.: How do you come up with ideas for books?  
Rosanne: It’s never a struggle for me. Ideas just pour through my brain like water through a strainer.  Usually they come from my research, often for an entirely different book, but some fact or event will catch my eye and I know it would make a good story.  Also, ideas come as I write, mainly from new characters that walk into my stories uninvited and tell me a book about them would make a good story.  So many things happened in settling the great American West – and through the Indian wars and all the events in America’s growth – that fodder for plots is endless.  Absolutely endless.  I’ll never live long enough to write all the books I want to write.  There are four stories in my head right now – all written.  I never use a synopsis or an outline of any kind.  I just start the story and let the characters take it over and off we go!  I have NEVER considered writing to be work.   It’s an exciting adventure and a real pleasure.

eBook only 99 cents

If you haven't read this series, there are three previous books: Outlaw Hearts, Do Not Forsake Me and Love's Sweet Revenge. You can pick up Love's Sweet Revenge now for only 99 cents!

Rosanne is giving away a complete set of her Outlaw Hearts series: all four books! Enter her drawing using the Rafflecopter for chances to win!

If you could travel back to any time, any place, where would you go and why?

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  1. LOVE Rosanne's books - Thanks so much for the interview and the giveaway!!!

  2. I would love to live in the 1800's. That's why I love Rosanne's books. I could just crawl into her books and live! Kim cornwell

  3. I have been reading her books for many years - love them! Teresa Fordice

  4. 1900s sound interesting

  5. I just finished The Last Outlaw it is phenomenal I love the whole Outlaw series

  6. I've always been interested in the 1800's.

  7. Absolutely a wonderful outstanding book. I finished it this morning and cried. I don't want to let Jake, Randy, or any of the Harkner's go. Phenomenal book Rosanne. Love you Dearly. We need more Jake.

  8. I enjoyed the excerpt. Congratulations on the release of "The Last Outlaw!"

  9. I would definitely go back to the J&L Ranch if I could travel back in time

  10. I am torn. I have two favorite eras of history that I would like to go back to. One is Elizabethan times in England. But I would also like to return to the American West. The women were especially strong and capable and I would like to think that I would be able to follow in their footsteps. But since that is not possible, I will just live vicariously through Roseanne Bittner, Linda Broday, and of course, E. E. Burke. Thanks ladies for letting me live out my fantasy.

  11. I would go to the early 1900's where everything was getting together and woman wore long dresses. I would love to read this print book and post reviews looks so good . So glad that you came to GLIAS today . ptclayton2@aol.com

  12. I would like to travel back in time to the 1600's in Scotland, to meet some of my relatives that I've read about!

  13. (waves) Hi, Rosanne!! I love your answer for 'what does it mean to love someone' and your favorite love word.

    I'm in the middle of reading this book right now and I'm ADORING it!! I don't want it to end yet!!

    I've always loved the settling of the west - 1800s America - ever since I was a little girl and read the Little House On The Prairie books - so that's where I'd want to travel to.

  14. 1880's Colorado, South Dakota, etc. Things were starting to be more civilized by this time.

  15. I would like to travel back to where why family came from to find out why they wanted to come to the new country. Where all did they come from; how long did it take and was it all they thought it would be once they got here.
    Veda Funk