Monday, February 4, 2008

McKettrick's Pride by Linda Lael Miller

The only wide-open space Rance McKettrick wants to see in his future is his hometown in his rearview mirror. The down-to-earth ex-rancher is determined to make a fresh start with his two young daughters – and leave his heartbreaking loss and family’s successful corporation far behind. He sure doesn’t need Indian Rock’s free-spirited new bookstore owner Echo Wells confusing his choices … and raising memories he’d rather forget. But her straightforward honesty and reluctance to trust is challenging everything Rance thought he knew about himself. And when their irresistible attraction puts their hearts on the line, Rance and Echo must come to grips with who they really are to find a once-in-a-lifetime happiness.

Linda Lael Miller was one of the first romance authors I read. Her vampire trilogy were the first vampire romances that I read too, at a time when vampire romances weren't the in-thing. It has been years since I last read one of hers, so this book brought a wave of nostalgia.

This is a tender and heartfelt story, told with a touch of wit. It is character and relationship driven. The storyline may be simple, but the story-telling is wonderful. It is peopled by characters who are vivid and true, and they give the story its heart and soul.

Rance, a widower of five years, is tormented for as long, as he blames himself for the death of his wife. He buries himself in work, neglects his daughters, and gradually becomes harder and more insensitive as time passes. He loves his daughters but has lost the ability to connect with them. He often leaves them in the care of their maternal grandmother Cora. Rance’s relationship with Cora is cordial at best, but it grows deeper as the story unfolds and it is a beautiful thing to see.

Echo, an orphan growing up unwanted and neglected in her uncle’s home, yearns for family and stability. Her self esteem took a nose dive when her fiancĂ© left her at the altar. She leaves her old life far behind by setting up a bookstore in a small town. Starting with a bedraggled lost dog, she gradually finds the love and companionship she longs for in the people of that small town.

Rance and Echo feel an immediate mutual attraction the first time they meet, but both are too skittish to act further on it. Rance’s daughters, Maeve and Rianna, as well as Cora and his cousins Jesse and Keegan play matchmakers at one time or another. Rance and Echo’s relationship develops progressively and believably. They are an awesome couple.

There are many special moments in this story but I especially enjoyed Rance’s scenes with Jesse and Keegan – the conversations between these men are at once funny and heartfelt. Jesse’s story is the first of this trilogy – McKettrick’s Luck; Keegan’s third – McKettrick’s Heart.

I thought the author captured the spirit of the small town and its folks beautifully. I was transported to that place and time, and it was a wonderful experience.

My rating4
Sensuality ratingWarm

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