Longtime readers of this blog know that I never miss an opportunity to whine about Maggie Osborne retiring. She published her last book in 2004, and happily rode off into the sunset to enjoy her golden years with her family. Pfft. Like her family needs her more than I do! Bah!
The big reason I'm such a Maggie Osborne zealot is that she wrote amazing characters. She also was an author who didn't insulted her readers' intelligence, she didn't pander, and she didn't take the easy way out in her stories. Even when I read an Osborne title I'm not madly in love with? (Yes, I've slapped a couple Osborne stories with Cs!), she still delivers rich, thought-provoking characters. Here are some of my favorites:
I Do, I Do, I Do (out of print, easy to find used) - I always recommend this book to Osborne newbies, or those who claim they don't like her other books because she wrote "tomboy" heroines. This book is charming, lighter in tone, and features 3 romances for the price of one. Three very different women (an heiress, a hard-working inn keeper, and a coal miner's daughter who wants a better life) find themselves wooed, wed, and swindled by the very same con men. They join forces, ultimately following him all the way to Alaska. Soon friendship, and romance, blossom for all three. But what about the con man? Full Super Librarian Review Here.
The Promise Of Jenny Jones (out of print, easy to find used) - Jenny Jones is a mule driver, buffalo skinner, and a condemned woman. She's sitting in a jail cell waiting on a firing squad when in walks a pretty senora who begs her to save her daughter. The wealthy woman is dying from consumption and knows her blood-thirsty family will surely kill the girl once she's gone. She asks Jenny because everyone knows, Jenny Jones always keeps her promises. Jenny no sooner spirits the girl (who incidentally hates her guts) away when she discovers the child's long-lost uncle hot on her tail. Full Super Librarian Review Here.
Prairie Moon (in print, available as ebook) - A gut-puncher of a story. Hero tracks down the widow of a man he killed in the Civil War, only to discover she's living in a ramshackle cabin, working in a saloon, and that she had to give up custody of her baby girl. Feeling he owes her an enormous debt, he decides he'll help her get her daughter back. This does have a happily-ever-after, but Osborne never sugar-coated her stories and this one deals with some very tough issues. When you read it, keep a box of Kleenex handy. And if you're a reader who needs absolutely everything to end shiny, happy rainbows? Yeah, maybe skip this one. Just sayin'. Full Super Librarian Review Here.
The Seduction of Samantha Kincade (out of print, hard to find) - A chick in pants story. Yes, I know most readers hate these, but Osborne avoids all the pitfalls that come with such stories. Mainly? The heroine really is living as a man. She's a bounty hunter looking for the asshole who raped and murdered her mother. She cuts her hair (no long flowing locks stuffed under a hat!) and wears men's clothing....always. The hero is also looking for the same asshole, who happens to be his half-brother. Not for a touching family reunion. Oh no. He wants to kill him. When he first lays eyes on the heroine? He thinks it's odd. Why is this chick walking into a saloon dressed as a man? I mean, isn't it obvious that she's a chick? Apparently not. He's the only saloon patron who seems to notice she doesn't have a penis. Stuff happens and they soon find themselves joining forces. A great read, but pretty hard to find. Full Super Librarian Review Here.
In the sake of full disclosure - I didn't put some well-loved Osborne books on this list because chances are I haven't read them. Yes, I still have several by her in Ye Olde TBR. And again? If you can't find copies of these, there's always your local library. And if they don't have it? ILL baby!