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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

McKettricks of Texas: Garrett by Linda Lael Miller

McKettricks of Texas: Garrett by Linda Lael Miller
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Contemporary, Historical (Western/Cowboys)
Length: Full (376 pages)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 5 books
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Fast track up the political ladder, fast cars, fast women—that's Garrett McKettrick. Make that was. A scandal has brought him home to Blue River, Texas, a place where a man can slow down, take stock and plan his next move. Which doesn't include staying at the family ranch with his brothers. A city boy, Garrett doesn't think he has the land in his blood.

But Blue River has other attractions, like his former high school nemesis, Julie Remington. Now a striking woman, Julie comes complete with a four-year-old cowboy, a three-legged beagle and deep ties to the community. Good thing they have nothing in common…except their undeniable attraction and a future brighter than the Texas sun.

This book should appeal to fans of western romances that enjoy hunky cowboys, a mystery, a scandal and a sweet and spicy romance. If it sounds intriguing, then Garrett’s story should be right up their alley because it’s all that and more.

Garrett is the second McKettrick brother and he believes his path is far from the saddle and the land he grew up on. It wasn’t until I’d read the entire book that I figured out why that is, and it’s poignant. Until he comes to that realization, his journey is one of self-discovery -- of who he is, what he really wants and discovering that love was right under his nose.

Sometimes the sweetest romance is between a man and woman who were great friends as kids, who know all of each other’s past foibles and stick by each other anyway. Garrett wakes up to that understanding eventually and it’s as heartwarming as a reader could wish. He’s a man’s man, a real cowboy with integrity and manners, and his inner strength is just as formidable as the land he rides over. He puts his all into anything he does and commands respect from his peers and the world he controls -- until the scandal hits. A person can’t control everything and everyone, so I found his reaction to the situation to be another great measure of the man. He comes home to question so much about his life and it’s not easy on him. Add in the mystery of what’s been happening on the ranch and his part in discovering the villains and he becomes a man of action, of passion and bravery. A man with that many burdens on his shoulders needs a life partner and Ms. Miller gives him the perfect lady.

Julie is a single mother, a teacher and sister to Garrett’s older brother’s future wife, Libby. What I liked about Julie was her close relationship with her two sisters and their dialogue throughout this book. The thing that impressed me most about her character, and I have to give major credit to Ms. Miller in her creation, is her absolute dedication to her son Calvin. The love, the constant respect for motherhood and its challenges and joys, were woven consistently throughout this book. It was very well done. Calvin was not a prop but an integral component in understanding Julie and her capacity to love. The three-legged fur baby was a nice touch too. Another thing I liked about Julie was her restraint. When her son’s biological father appeared on the scene, it would have been so easy for Ms. Miller to resort to the heroine being a victim or a viper. Instead, the author had Julie making the best of a scary situation. I know personally a woman who made the same choice for her son and like Julie, it worked out wonderfully for the child. I could really relate to this story because of the full and vibrant personalities that Ms. Miller has imbued her characters.

I also liked the secondary characters that pepper this story. They added substance, heart and plot momentum. I think the climactic confrontation with the bad guys was gripping and intense. I was entertained by the conversations between the three McKettrick brothers as I was between the three Remington sisters. I really want an Esperanza of my own. Last but not least, when Julie finally admits she’s got a hankering for Garrett and succumbs to her desire, their loving is sweet, passionate and romantic.

Garrett’s story is an entertaining, fast paced read that kept me flipping the pages until the happily-ever-after ending had me sighing in satisfaction. The story is a bit fancy in parts but that’s what makes it so fun and a joy to read. It’s that Prince Charming syndrome - he’s ordinary but bigger than life with a way about him that makes a woman swoon – including this reader. I am so happy I got to read Garrett’s story and look forward to more by this author.