Innocent Hearts by Radclyffe

Innocent Hearts by Radclyffe is one of my favourite of her novels. I own it as a paperback and when Bold Strokes offered me the audio book to review I was a very happy little reviewer.

One of the reasons I just love the novel is because it is set in the Montana Territory in the 1860’s. I really like the historical elements that were included in the novel and the different life that people lived back then.

The main characters are Kate and Jessie. The book starts with Kate Beecher and her family moving across country from Boston to Montana. Shortly after they arrive Kate meets Jessie and cannot help but find her fascinating.

Jessie Forbes took over her father’s ranch when he died. She grew up in the saddle and can handle the horses as well as the best of them. To the locals she is just Jessie.

When the two women meet there is an instant chemistry, but they are both really innocent and it takes them a while to figure out what their feelings mean. But in a small town in 1860 it is hardly a common occurrence for two women for fall in love.

The Characters

The book is aptly titled. They are Innocent Hearts. They are so sweet and naive. Pair that with a set of side characters who are against them being together, like Kate’s parents who want her to settle down with a husband who will keep her safe, and Mae, the local Madam who is in love with Jessie.

With all of that in play you have a very entertaining story that is well worth a read.

The Writing Style

It’s one of Radclyffe’s earlier works. Her writing style has evolved over the years so her newer works are a bit more poetic. Having said that, this is a well written book, perhaps a bit gentler than some of her others but a wonderful story filled with the beauty of discovering your true self through finding love.

The Narration

The narration on the audio book was good. I enjoyed the tone and temperament of the reading. It pulled you into the story and kept you entertained the entire time.

The Pros

This is a special story and the audio book does it justice. It is a wonderful book to listen to and well worth the purchase. I believe it will become one of those staples in your collection that you will listen to every now and again.

The Cons

Don’t expect the traditional, dramatic Radclyffe book. It isn’t that. But it is lovely.

sheena's favouriteThe Conclusion

The book is done wonderfully in this audio version and I am pleased to have it in my collection. I can only say good things about it and I hope you take my advice and get it.

It is perfect when you want a story that will take you back to a time of cowgirls and saloons, camera’s with plates and large boxes of chemicals.

Excerpt from Innocent Hearts by Radclyffe

Kate stared at the woman whose features were shadowed at the moment by the wide-brimmed Stetson that she wore. Now that Kate looked carefully, she could see that the body was not that of a young man. Jessie Forbes was lean and muscular to be sure, but there was a subtle curve to the hip and slenderness in the arms that betrayed her sex. And under the worn denim of her shirt, sweat-dampened in the back, there was a suggestive swell of breasts. Never in her life had Kate seen a woman wear pants, even in the confines of her own home.

She continued to stare until she realized that the woman was heading straight toward them, leading a beautiful chestnut mare. She quickly averted her gaze despite the fact that she desperately wanted to see Jessie up close. This woman will think I have no manners at all, staring at her like a schoolboy.

Kate heard the jangle of spurs grow louder, until suddenly the sound stopped and a shadow fell across the wooden sidewalk right in front of them. She found herself looking down at the dusty toes of two very well-worn boots.

Jessie threw the reins over the railing and took the two stairs up to the porch in one long stride.

“Howdy, Jessie,” John said amiably.

“Afternoon, John,” she answered as she stepped into the dry goods sore.

Kate was surprised at the deep but melodious timbre of her voice. She glanced then at the horse standing quietly before them, taking in the well-ridden but still beautiful saddle engraved with the elegantly tooled JF. Her eyes widened slightly as she noticed the rifle tucked into a case on the right side. She turned to John with another question but stopped when she heard the spurs behind them again.

“Say, John, you can tell your dad I’ve got that colt down from the high country if he wants to ride out and see him some time,” Jessie said as she came through the door on her way out of the store before she noticed that Kate was about to speak. “Oh, sorry, I didn’t mean to be interrupting.”

Kate looked up into the bluest eyes she had ever seen. Her glance travelled quickly from the sun-bleached hair beneath the brim of the cowboy hat and over the strong cheekbones to a generous mouth and square chin. She dropped her gaze when she saw Jessie color slightly and felt her own face flame. What has gotten into me?

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About the author

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Sheena is the founder of The Lesbian Review.

She discovered lesbian fiction when she was 19. Radclyffe and Karin Kallmaker soon became favourite authors and she spent a large part of her hard earned income on shipping books from to her home in South Africa.

Over the years she became frustrated with purchasing mediocre lesbian fiction feeling like it was a waste of her money and time. And so she decided to share only the best books and movies with lesbians who are looking for only the best. And so, The Lesbian Review was born