Lesser Evils begins with wild-west gal, Abby Fraser, nearing death in the middle of a desert. All of the troubles Abby has faced were in pursuit of the protection of her sister, but where is Jennie when Abby is at her weakest? No matter, handsome rancher Dalton Laine rescues Abby from the desert and the law, offering her a job at his ranch. But why?
Unwilling to accept that Dalton’s compassion came unmotivated and without a price, Abby keeps her distance. But when circumstances necessitate that she maintains the lie that she is Dalton’s wife, things get a little . . . complicated. As her love for Dalton blossoms, she learns that she is not the only one on the ranch harboring secrets and running from the noose. Will Abby and Dalton’s love be able to withstand the unfolding secrets? Will they forever live life on the run or will their bad deeds eventually catch up to them?
Part of what I enjoyed the most about this piece is that LaFoille doesn’t tread water on the page or bore her reader with tedious exposition. We are first introduced to our narrator, runaway murderess Abby Fraser, as she runs through a desert to escape execution. Following typical romance tropes, we are soon introduced to street savvy Dalton Laine who saves Abby from certain death and develops a peculiar affinity to the girl. As Abby and Dalton’s love builds, the reader is left to wonder how far their lives will entwine and what repercussions will come of their life of crime. And this is just one of many instances of suspense-building that LaFoille utilizes to keep the reader engaged. She develops romantic tension between Dalton and Abby in the main plot, but also develops romantic and dramatic tension in various areas of the subplot.
Oddly, what I praise in Lesser Evils is a part of what I found lacking in the novel. While LaFoille’s various subplots keep the reader from drowning in the intimacy of Abby and Dalton’s romance, these moments of reprieve are sparse. For example, Abby’s sister, Jennie, is the driving force for Abby’s crime. There are numerous mentions of Abby missing Jennie in the story. Yet, when we finally meet Jennie, it is only to pave the way for one of the plot twists.
At almost 300 pages, the novel could have devoted more time into the reader’s investment in characters that are overlooked as being simple plot devices (like Jennie), instead of repeating the moments of smaller conflict that we see with the Buck character and foolish moments spurned from Abby’s obstinacy. However, while I found the various subplots to be a collection of coincidences and convenient twists, LaFoille uses it as an anchor for the larger romantic plot. This is what prompted me to give Lesser Evils a rating of 5 out of 5 stars.
Lesser Evils was an utter pleasure to read and earned a spot on the very short list of books that I would read over and over again.