Red Hot Book of the Week: The Outcasts by Kathleen Kent

Oct 14, 2013 at 9:00 a.m. ET

Kathleen Kent's third novel is an intriguing tale of the frontier on the Gulf Coast in the 19th century — a place where both lawlessness and a sense of opportunity reigned.

Kathleen Kent burst onto the historical fiction scene in 2008 with her debut novel, The Heretic's Daughter. That book featured Kent's ancestors Martha and Sarah Carrier, both of whom were accused of witchcraft during the Salem witch trials. Then came another novel about the Carrier family: The Traitor’s Wife, a prequel to The Heretic’s Daughter, tells the story of Thomas and Martha Carrier and their lives before the Salem witch trials. Now Kent has moved on from the Carrier family and into a fascinating story of the lawless 19th-century Gulf Coast.

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The Outcasts by Kathleen KentAbout The Outcasts

For Lucinda Carter, the Texas brothel where she works is a virtual prison. Technically, neither she nor any of the other women there are being held forcibly, but women are almost never able to leave with more than they arrived with. There are accounts to settle with dressmakers and doctors, and for drugs. Eventually, most women even end up owing money to Madame Landry. But Lucinda is determined to leave, and she is crafty enough to attempt to get out without alerting either Madame Landry or the German man who serves as Landry's enforcer. With her freedom and a considerable sum of money stolen from a hiding place in Madame Landry's room, Lucinda is hoping to go forth and make a life. She hopes to become a schoolteacher in Middle Bayou — and this is where she will meet her lover, a man whose plan for their lives is to become rich from buried pirate treasure.

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The Outcasts doesn't follow only Lucinda — there is also Nate Cannon, a Texas lawman. Nate is on the trail of a cruel and ruthless killer, a man named McGill. McGill has killed not only men but also women and children all across the frontier. Nate fervently believes in justice, and he will not rest until McGill has been stopped. When Nate and Lucinda's paths cross, the results are sure to be dramatic, the only question being whether anyone will survive the clash between the determined lawman and the woman who will do anything to create the life she has always wanted.

Kent's novels never fail to illuminate both the facts of life in the past and the realities of human nature both then and now, and The Outcasts is no exception.

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