Rafe's Redemption

By: Jennifer Jakes

Star Rating:

Sensuality Rating:



Spoiler Disclaimer


Artist Maggie Monroe headed west toward California in the company of a male cousin to settle her late father's business affairs there. Along the way, she also hoped to draw some of the majestic scenery for a planned art show when she returns to St. Louis. However, until they encounter trouble in Cougar Creek, Colorado, she had no idea that her unscrupulous cousin had intended to get rid of her along the way so that he could have the inheritance all to himself. Racking up gambling debts in the little town gives him the perfect excuse to place her on the auction block, where a crowd of rough miners and mountain men who terrify her seem to be the only bidders. Maggie is desperately looking for a means of escape when a handsome stranger comes to her aid, outbidding everyone else. Unfortunately a snowstorm is rapidly approaching, leaving them no other option but to take refuge in Rafe's small mountain cabin, but he promises that as soon as the snow clears, he'll make sure she gets back to St. Louis safely. With her gorgeous protector stirring her deepest desires, though, will she even want to go back by the time the weather cooperates?

Rafe McBride was a Union officer during the Civil War, but just as the war was winding down, a terrible incident involving his stepbrother placed him at odds with the rest of his family. Now a recluse, on the run from a second vindictive stepbrother, the last thing he needs is a woman tying him down or drawing attention to him. He only rode into Cougar Creek to trade for supplies, but when he sees a lovely young virgin being auctioned off, the gentleman in him can't allow it to happen. He spends nearly all the gold he has buying Maggie to keep her safe, but the snowstorm forcing them into close proximity wreaks havoc on his desires. Rafe keeps telling himself that he'll return her to St. Louis untouched as soon as the storm lifts, but not only can he not resist bedding the beauty, but he also soon finds himself falling in love with her. However when his past finally catches up with him, it could put both of them in mortal danger.


Rafe's Redemption is a stand-alone, historical, western, erotic romance. Maggie came west with her cousin, both to settle her late father's affairs and to draw the beautiful frontier for an upcoming art show she's planning to take part in back in her hometown of St. Louis. However, wanting the inheritance all for himself, her unscrupulous cousin decides to get rid of her along the way. Since he also finds himself with gambling debts in the little town of Cougar Creek, Colorado, he places her on the auction block. Maggie is terrified by all the rough mountain men who eagerly start bidding on her, but then through the crowd comes a handsome stranger who outbids them all. Rafe only came to town for supplies but he can't stand to see a woman being mistreated. He only intends to get her out of her predicament and then take her to the nearest fort where she can find a stagecoach back home, but with a snowstorm moving in quickly, he has no choice but to take her to his cabin in the mountains until it's safe to travel. Days turn into weeks, and soon neither of them can resist the delicious sexual tension that's been growing between them. However, Maggie is an independent woman who isn't sure she wants to tie herself to a man permanently. Not to mention, danger lurks and their romantic and passionate sojourn in the wilderness may soon be broken by either Maggie's cousin coming for incriminating papers she took by mistake or Rafe's stepbrother who is out for revenge.

Maggie's mother died when she was young and she was basically raised by their housekeeper, Nettie, a woman she adores. She loves to draw and paint, but her father never supported those endeavors. Nevertheless, she carried on and has plans to exhibit her work at a gallery in St. Louis. When her father passed unexpectedly, she decided to travel with her cousin to California to take care of some business interests her father had there, as well as take the time to draw the beautiful vistas along the way for her art show. But when they stop over in the tiny, rough and tumble town of Cougar Creek where her cousin racks up gambling debts, she learns just how unscrupulous he can be when he places her up for auction. As she's seeking a way to escape her fate, a handsome stranger comes to her rescue, placing a high bid that no one can match. Not knowing what his intentions are, she's a little afraid of him, but when he treats her kindly and says he'll take her to the nearest fort so that she can return home as soon as the inclement weather passes, she grows to trust him. Being holed up in his tiny, mountain cabin together soon becomes more than either of them can resist. After all the men in her life let her down, Maggie isn't sure she ever wants to marry, so she's open to their relationship taking a passionate turn. She might not be able to resist, though, when Rafe turns out to be everything she could want in a man, but their happiness could be short-lived. Back in Cougar Creek, when Rafe went to the hotel for Maggie's art satchel, he accidentally took incriminating papers that they know her cousin will want back and he likely won't stop searching until he finds them.

Maggie is a great heroine who is a nice mixture of sweet and feisty. She's a strong woman who never gave up on her dreams of becoming an artist despite her father's derision. She's kind and caring, looking out for Rafe and giving back full measure to him in every way, and she's just as protective of him as he is of her. The only thing about her that gave me pause is that I couldn't figure out how a well-bred, virginal, young lady knew about the sexual things she did. She mentions that Nettie relayed the basics of sex, but it stretches the bounds of credibility to think that would include some of the spicy scenarios she was dreaming and fantasizing about before she and Rafe ever did the deed. Otherwise, though, I really liked her.

Rafe was raised by a stepfather who never truly treated him like a son. He joined the Union army during the Civil War and quickly rose to the rank of an officer. However, an unfortunate incident involving his stepbrother at the end of the war, has left him guilt-ridden. When the rest of his family and his fiancee basically disowned and abandoned him for it, he went west and has been living the life of a hermit in the Colorado mountains. He comes to Cougar Creek to sell his furs and get supplies just as Maggie's cousin starts auctioning her off. Rafe tells himself not to get involved, but his gentlemanly nature can't abide seeing a woman being treated that way. He reluctantly buys her himself, intending to merely escort her to the nearest fort to catch the stage as soon as possible. But between the snowstorm, the knowledge that her cousin is likely coming for the papers, and other dangers, they're delayed by weeks, during which time, their passion reaches a boiling point and he begins to fall for her. But Maggie has plans to travel the world to create and sell her art and doesn't want a man infringing on her independence. Even if Rafe can convince her he won't stifle her, word has it that his stepbrother is hot on his trail and out for blood, and until they've either faced off over the events of the past or called a truce, he and Maggie will never be safe. Rafe was a great hero, a nice mix of big city gentleman and rough, mountain man who has both a streak of alpha protectiveness and a heart of gold that he pretty much wears on his sleeve once he starts falling for Maggie. He's been living a lonely tortured life over the incident in his past, and between that and the way he was treated growing up, he doesn't view himself as lovable. But Maggie changes all that. She helps him come to terms with what happened (for the record, IMHO, he was in the right, even though he understandably feels bad about it), and gives him all the love he deserves.

Rafe's Redemption was my first read by Jennifer Jakes, and overall, I very much liked it. It's both sweet and spicy, a combination I love in my romances. Both Rafe and Maggie are very likable and have good character development. A strong emotional connection grows between them, making their relationship sweet and loving, but there's definitely no skimping on the steam factor. They fit well together as a couple, finding compromises to make things work. I was left with no doubt that they'd have a good, long-lasting romance. The danger posed by her cousin and his stepbrother was nicely woven in, offering a touch of suspense. However, as much as I enjoyed the story and the characters, this wasn't a perfect book for me. Initially I felt like some of the sensuality was coming from out of nowhere and wasn't fitting organically into the story. For example, having Maggie lusting for Rafe after he'd just bought her from the auction block and she didn't really know his intentions yet was a bit much. In fact, the first several times they have lusty thoughts about each other, it felt like it was just being thrown in to meet some unspecified goal for erotic scenes. I can happily say, though, that this did improve, and as the story progressed and they got to know each other better, the emotional connection grew stronger. The other thing that bugged me is that there were a lot of typos, incorrect words, continuity errors, and other editorial issues that were a distraction and often pulled me out of the story, and on occasion, a few more details to help envision a scene better certainly wouldn't have gone amiss. If only all these things had been smoothed out more, I could definitely have seen this book earning keeper status from me. As is, though, the strength and likability of both the characters and the story held it together for me and helped to make it an enjoyable read that has left me open to trying more of Jennifer Jakes's work in the future.

Note: This book contains explicit language and sexual content, including anal sex, that could be objectionable to sensitive readers.


Jennifer Jakes @ GoodReads


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