Innocent Hearts by Radclyffe

When I first ventured out into the world of (fan) fiction I came a cross a number of westerns of the cowgirl variant. You know the sort of fic’s where you’ll find at least one of the female protagonists to be very comfortable on horseback, perhaps proficient with a gun and always dressed like a man. In these stories we are usually also treated to a woman of a more feminine nature in need of a bit of rescuing and – as we are talking romance here – to a friendship that turn into love.

One of the first and up until now best of cowgirls stories that I have read is BL Miller and Vada Fosters “The Western Chronicles”. Unfortunately BL Miller has decided to remove the online version of the story from her site due to plagiarism. If you know your way around the web archives you can still reach a copy of this and other BL Millar stories online and for those willing to spend a little money on a paperback it’s seems that it’s still available in print.

“The Western Chronicles” is the story of Josie – the outlaw – and Rebecca the woman in need of rescuing and their journey together through the frontier country. The story has a number of dramatic episodes, but you’ll find a well-developed romance at the centre of the storyline this time with a rather unwilling outlaw and a persistent younger – and rather innocent – woman. The characters of Josie and Rebecca are well-developed and the slow progression from reluctant – on Josie’s part – travelling companions to friends and eventually lovers is skilfully described.

As not everybody is proficient in the art of surfing the web archives I’ll give you another western of the cowgirl variant to spend you time on while you wait for “someone” to let you in on the secrets of finding what has been lost on the web.

This cowgirl western is written by Radclyffe and has a more urbanised setting than the one you’ll find in “The Western Chronicles”. In “Innocent Hearts” we are not dealing with outlaws and gunslings, but with the rancher Jessie and the slightly younger woman Kate who has just arrived in the new Montana territory with her parents from out east. A self-reliant woman like Jessie is something that Kate has never encountered before, and as you can imagine Jessie and Kate quickly strike up an acquaintance, each taking pleasure in the company of a woman different from those they normally encounter, and none of them quite sure what to make of their feelings towards each other.

I think it might spoil your fun to tell you how Jessie and Kate work out what kind of pleasures women can find in the company of each other, but I’ll just let you know that they seem to come down with divine inspiration once they get the gist of things.

Cowgirl western romances are not my favourite stories as I often find that the storylines are too stereotype for my taste. I think that the one real exception from this rule is “The Western Chronicles” mentioned above, but if you like cowgirls you might find “Innocent Hearts” entertaining if perhaps a little too predictable. Jessie and Kate are likeable characters but possibly a little young for the storyline, but as always I found that Radclyffe uphold a good quality in her writing.

Graceful Waters by B. L. Miller & Verda Foster

I think that this is the best written of the three B. L. Miller works I’ve read. I believe there’s another one on her website that I will probably compile today. The premise of the story seemed much more believable to me than the other two. Don’t get me wrong, I truly enjoyed all three. This one just touched me more and I could relate to the characters on different levels.

Graceful Waters, aka Grace, is a tough 17 year old whose life is about to change. She’s ordered by the court to spend the 6 months until her 18th birthday at Sapling Hill. It’s a girl’s boot camp-type facility. There she meets Joanna Carey, the 29 year old head instructor and the woman who takes on the responsibility of being Grace’s mentor.
Being prior military, so much of the story took me back to my own boot camp days. Also being a survivor of sexual child abuse, I was able to connect with much of what young Grace was going through. But beyond that, the story was well put together and well written. Miller and Foster are a great team and I hope they continue to work together.

This story is also available in a published book which I’m going to pick up once it’s available in ebook. There were parts of Graceful Waters that I think could have been expanded upon and a bit that could have been trimmed down. I’m curious to see what the final version turned out to be.

Crystal’s Heart by BL Miller and Verda Foster

Crystal and Laura are the ultimate odd couple. Crystal is a heterosexual stripper with drug and alcohol problems who seems to thrive on clutter and disorder. Laura is an uptight lesbian author who cleans obsessively and has to have everything in its proper place. The way they are brought together is completely unbelievable but is quickly dropped and despite it’s rough beginning, this was a great story.

The initial premise may make this seem like a romantic comedy but it’s not. These women are dealing with some very serious issues and loads of baggage. I was moved to tears several times. Crystal’s Heart deals with some very serious topics and this isn’t always an easy read, emotionally. I highly recommend it.

This is also available in a published version.

Accidental Love by B. L. Miller

Veronica “Ronnie” Cartwright seems to have it all: money, mansion, and cars. But the executive doesn’t have anyone to share it with. Rose Grayson has nothing and no one. An accident brings them together and a secret threatens to tear them apart.

This story was much better than I thought it would be after reading the first few pages. I thought it was going to be very predictable but it was a bit different from what I thought it would be. I do think that it may have been better the way I had it figured out but I suppose if I could write a story like that, I’d be an author instead of a reviewer.

There was plenty of family drama, tension, growing love, and just enough sex. The first sex scene, in particular, was pretty hot. I am a bit hormonal right now, so that could account for my cynicism regarding the plot and excitement regarding the sex. Who can say? What I can tell you is that this is definitely worth the read.

This has also been published as a print novel.