Leisure, Feb 2002, 5.99, 392 pp.
In the 1890 New Mexico Territory, Diego de Aguirre knows he cannot live up to the heritage his heroic brother set so decides to take pleasure from the role of hedonistic scapegrace. When trouble returns to Tewa Pueblo, his sibling dubbed the Renegade is not in town to save the day. Diego knows his town needs a hero so he darns his brother's mask in order to save the community.
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Daughter of a photographer, Melanie Ann Muessen arrives in town on a personal quest. She is attracted to Diego, but Melanie makes a play for the Renegade in hopes of a special photograph. As Diego tries to make his home safe, they fall in love. However, before their relationship can forge into something permanent identities and obsessions must be revealed.
Though well written, THE RENEGADE'S HEART reads like son (perhaps younger brother) of Zorro as the story line is very similar to its delightful predecessor (see RENEGADE). What makes this tale unique is the deepness of Diego that only Melanie can observe. Perhaps her need to model a man after her father is as great so that it enables her to see inside to the real man. Diego's need to emulate his brother is so intense he pulls a reaction formation and goes in the opposite direction. Bottom line is that the two lead protagonists take a plot similar to one Stobie Piel wrote last year and turn it into a powerful Americana romance that sub-genre fans will fully enjoy.