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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

McKettricks of Texas: Austin by Linda Lael Miller

McKettricks of Texas: Austin by Linda Lael Miller
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full (378 pages)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 5 Books
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

World champion rodeo star Austin McKettrick finally got bested by an angry bull. His career over, his love life a mess, the lone maverick has nowhere to go when the hospital releases him. Except back home to Blue River and the Silver Spur ranch. But his overachieving brothers won't allow this cowboy to brood in peace. They've even hired a nurse to speed his recovery. Paige Remington's bossy brand of TLC is driving him crazy. As is her beautiful face, sexy figure and silky black hair.

Paige has lost count of how many times Austin has tried to fire her. She's not going anywhere till he's healed—body and heart.

And by then her place in his life just might become permanent.

If you’ve ever done something bad to do something good and found chaos in its wake, then reading about a romance that survived those choices is sweet indeed.

Paige is the third sister under the McKettrick influence. She’s not happy about it either. Paige is a woman torn by watching her sisters’ happiness and her own feelings about it. Ultimately it makes her take a closer look at who she is, and what she really wants out of life. Intermixed is the relationship with her sisters and nieces and nephews.

This is a book that encompasses family life and how they all interact in times of emotional need, in times of laughter and happiness and in times of stress and danger. Paige is quite skilled as a nurse and her training holds her in good stead when she’s faced with violence and the injuries stemming from it. I liked her sense of humor and her loyalty. Even her nightmares about the ‘dress’ were comical. I enjoyed how she danced around Austin – that give and take and that mix of the past with the present. She blames him but is it a crutch from long ago or something in the present that bothers her? Paige has to pose some serious questions to herself before it’s too late. It’s her journey and growth through the story which kept me interested in her character.

Austin is a man who lived his dream. He has a lot to deal with when his dream is shattered long before he ever wanted to quit. He loved and lived bull-riding. He made his path and chose some actions in the past that have totally messed up his possible future. Austin is stubborn, loyal, and gruff - and all cowboy. He’s also a hurting puppy for quite a bit of the story and that doesn’t sit well with a man like him. What I liked about his character is that he never let it truly get him down. He kept his sense of humor and his love for his brothers and sisters-in-law-to-be shined through loud and clear. What is also clear is that he never stopped loving Paige. Unfortunately, what Austin did to her years ago was not only stupid but more effective than he would ever know – until Paige moved in. It forced him to realize many things about himself and he too grows as a character.

The conflict isn’t all internal. There’s been a thread throughout the McKettricks of Texas series which culminates in this final book of the trilogy. Austin’s story can stand on its own. The resurgence of a romance between Austin and Paige is like a Phoenix rising. And the criminal element is a serpent in an uncertain cowboy paradise. It affects them all and it’s from a source no one would have believed. The reveal is tragic, gripping and it quickly brings all the drama, suspense and nail-biting intrigue to a head. This book has more teeth to the plot because the bad guys are desperate and that made for some very fast flipping of pages. The other two books, about Tate and Garrett, were wonderful romances but this one has the additional WOW factor.

I enjoyed the writing of when Austin and Paige get together. I’m not only speaking of when they get physical, although those were special and well written and delightful, I’m talking about their repartee, their dialogue and their internal thoughts. The writing made them vivid and alive and very likable.

McKettricks of Texas: Austin is what all great books in a series should be. It stands on its own with endearing and engaging characters that make you appreciate the art of the author. It has a happily ever after which completes not only the romance of Austin and Page but gathers the whole McKettrick family along with the reader into its warm and welcoming embrace. I’m very happy I read this book and would recommend it to any reader who loves their cowboy romances with heart and emotional connections. I came away wishing the horse farm I live next to was actually part of the McKettrick spread. What fascinating neighbors they’d be.