I will not hand out 4 star ratings for every book, or try not to.*
HQN Romance By Linda Lael Miller
Jan 2010 368 pages
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BLURB ON BACK OF BOOK:
There are barely enough hours for divorced dad Tate McKettrick to run the Silver Spur ranch, do the suit-and-tie thing for his business and run herd on his beloved six-year-old twin daughters. But time stands still at the sight of Libby Remington. When they were high school sweethearts, the wealthy McKettrick couldn't convince Libby he loved her. But now they're both back in Blue River, Texas. And cattle rustlers, a manipulative ex-wife and a killer stallion can't keep him from trying again.
Libby has her hands full taking care of her mother—and running the Perk Up Coffee Shop. Caffeine, she needs. Tate McKettrick, with his blazing blue eyes and black hair? No. Oh, heck—yes. But can they really hope for a second chance?
Linda is the author of over 70 books. I have read a few, most recently, the 'Montana Creeds' Trilogy. I find Linda is hit or miss. (mostly hit, though) The last historical western, (Stone Creek) 'The Bridegroom' was middlin' at best.
I really did enjoy the Montana Creeds, so if you liked those, I have no doubt you will like these. Again, three brothers, The older, steady brother, the middle flashy brother, either city lawyer or in this case, working for a politician, and the younger, wild, sexy, untamed brother. These guys also rode the rodeo circuit and are rich as Croesus. It's the Creeds all over. And I really liked the Creed boys, let me tell you.
The McKettricks started out in historical novels, and now we can read about their descendants, Linda certainly has got a lot of twigs from that family tree, and has spread it across several lines of Harlequin. Is it time to say enough already?
Well, perhaps. I will say this, Linda does have rich characters, and an engaging narrative, and while I enjoyed this read to a point, it left me a little cold at the end.
Tate McKettrick is not only drop-dead gorgeous hunk of cowboy, but a loving dad. We see right off the top he has a full plate, two precious twin girls age 6, and a society climbing nagging ex-wife. He loves his brothers, and worries about them, runs a large ranch with a lot of people working on it, and he worries about them.
He saunters into Libby Remington's struggling coffee shop and orders orange slushies for his daughters, and the sparks begin to fly. It's another of those 'intense teen loves' come back to slap you upside the head plots.
Libby is still nursing a broken heart, because we find out, Tate went off to university, had a fling, got a woman pregnant, then married her, even though he didn't love her. Cheryl, the ex-wife, is annoying as hell, fighting Tate at every turn, she hates the custody agreement that keeps her tethered to this small Texas town of Blue River.
I felt this was not really explored, at least, not to my satisfaction. Why Tate would marry someone he hardly knew, or even liked, his innate sense of honor, I suppose. But it is not clearly defined here, and leaves a hole in his otherwise agreeable if not humdrum character. Tate's whole life seems mired in guilt of one type or another, again, not fully explored.
He and Libby have avoided each other for years, (How they did that in a small town, I would like to know!) now, all of the sudden, they crash against each other like ships in the night.
Libby is rather boring, I thought. She obviously has been stewing in her juices for over 7 years while Tate dumped her and married the pregnant Cheryl. She was going through the motions of her life, of which we are given a very sketchy look, a very strange mother, and two sisters who also seemingly have pasts with the other McKettrick brothers. You can see where this is going.
But, while the main characters are flawed, the secondary characters are a little more interesting. The brief look at Austin and Garrett (the brothers) has me wondering that perhaps their stories may be more engaging and entertaining. I hope so. I am not one for kids in a romance, but Linda made the twin girls cute and sassy, just enough to not be overly annoying.
And Linda's easy narrative keeps you reading, even if the main characters have let you down somewhat. And they did to an extent. I would have liked more than one flashback to their teen romance. For all the two seem to have in common is hot sex. I never got the feeling that there was something deeper between them, and a few touching flashbacks might have helped.
There is a back-story of a tragic accident on the McKettrick ranch, That was diverting, and kept things moving along, and a rather pat tie-up at the end regarding the ex-wife.
Some people fault Linda's attention to little details (like what the toppings are on the pizza) But I like those little details, makes for a more rounded chronicle.
I didn't dislike this, but found it very, very average. Too bad. Maybe it reminded too much of the Creed trilogy, (which I liked better than this book) or it may be just the main characters were two dimensional, no depth. Which was too bad really.
2 and 1/2 stars out of 4
KOVER KUDOS: Meh. Not keen on the model, doesn't really fit the description of Tate who is described as having longish hair. He looks better in the book trailer than he does on this cover, maybe it is the pained look on his face.
2 out of 4 stars