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Friday, January 29, 2010

McKettricks of Texas: Tate by Linda Lael Miller

McKettricks of Texas: Tate by Linda Lael Miller
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full (368 pages)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 Books
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

For divorced dad Tate McKettrick, there are barely enough hours each day to run the Silver Spur ranch, do the suit-and-tie thing for his business and run herd on his beloved six-year-old daughters. But time stands still at the sight of Libby Remington. When they were high school sweethearts, the wealthy McKettrick made a mistake that cost him the love of his life. But now they’re both back in Blue River, Texas. And cattle rustlers, a manipulative ex-wife and a killer stallion can’t keep Tate from trying to win Libby again.

Libby has her hands full caring for her mother and running the Perk Up Coffee Shop. Caffeine she needs. Tate McKettrick—with his blazing blue eyes and black hair. No way! Oh, heck—yes! But can Tate and Libby really hope for a second chance?

If you enjoy stories about second chances, close family ties and the strength of true love, then grab your cookies and iced tea and kick back for a wonderful Texas style romance.

Tate is the man who got away. Not that he wanted to but he royally messed up his life when he went to a party in college, got a little plastered and ended up getting married. The tragic part of it all is that he truly was already in love with someone else and had intended on marrying her but responsibility and duty to do what was right overrode what his heart wanted. The only joy he now has is the gift of laughter and love from his twin daughters. I loved how Ms. Miller wrote Tate’s character. He is strong of principle and intrinsically knows how to behave in front of his daughters, even when his ex-wife plays her manipulative games and pushes all his mad buttons. Even knowing that, he’s still vulnerable and very human when the woman pulls some seriously bad mojo and sends him to the brink of those emotional cliffs. Tate could have become embittered and played the blame game. He could have holed up on his ranch and sunk to his ex-wife’s level, but he has something his ex doesn’t. Family and its traditions, brothers and friends, love and respect, and hope for the future cushion him when things seem their worst. He retained his sense of humor for the most part but he was hiding too. It takes one of those “cruel to be kind” moments from one of his brothers to make Tate face the truth. He doesn’t’ shy away from it, he doesn’t make excuses. Nope, he takes it like a man and plans on changing. I respected Tate McKettrick.

The woman left behind was Libby. I got a strong sense that an undying love still burned within her, but she’s buried it deep. She’s had to. Even though Tate is technically available again, the hurt of betrayal still haunts her. She’s tried to keep her head down and not cross his path. How gut wrenching it must be to see the man of her dreams and believe he’d never be anything to her but a dream. Her character is sensitive, nurturing, warm and passionate. She also can’t cook even though she runs a coffee shop. She’s made something of her life even though it’s not what she’d ever planned on. She struggles too because not only is she trying to run her business, she has a family thorn to deal with. Not her sisters; they are supportive and have been each others’ rock. The lemon in the family is their mother who I swear has a touch of some emotional disability. She’d drive me absolutely bonkers. As it is, that woman single handedly crushed even the tenuous hold Libby had on her future, leaving her with decisions which could hurt her for the rest of her life -- or force her onto the road of happiness and sense of self. I really wanted Libby to be happy.

The atmosphere of this book is small town, where the pain from loss of one family is felt by the whole community. There is a tragic event that takes place and I have to say, Ms. Miller did an excellent job of describing the funeral, how it affects people and how emotions get shown. At one point I felt I was there and I had to grab a tissue. I’m not sure if it’s because I had just experienced a death in the family or not, but the tone and sadness resonated with me and that could not have happened without Ms. Miller tapping into reality and touching the heart.

The secondary characters include animals. Some provide tender and fun moments and others drama and fear. As for people, I loved the interplay between Libby and the Sheriff. And I really could relate to one of the neighbors. Tate’s ex-wife certainly produces conflict, but the main conflict is the reclamation of trust between Tate and Libby. There are certainly sparks flying between them and when they get together, Ms. Miller writes wonderful scenes which include exciting verbal and physical interplay. Sweet romance has never been hotter.

I could go on and on about Tate’s brothers or Libby’s sisters because I was introduced to all of them and given small little insights into their personalities and quirks. I could go on about the secondary conflicts and give you hints on their unexpected outcomes but this review would go on forever. I could even tell you how much fun a water fight can be. Suffice to say, The McKettricks of Texas: Tate, is a solid and well written story about forgiveness, hope, family and the staying power of love. It encompasses a community spirit of small town America in a state where everything is larger than life. This love story is worthy of the big state of Texas.