Saturday, January 10, 2009

McKettrick's Luck by Linda Lael Miller

Contemporary Romance Challenge: January 2009

Category: Contemporary Romance

Series: Yes – Book 1 of the McKettrick Men series

Like his celebrated ancestors who tamed the wilds of Arizona, Jesse McKettrick’s Indian Rock ties run deep. The Triple M Ranch is in his blood, along with the thrill of risk. But with his land at stake, Jesse won’t get involved in Cheyenne Bridges’s scheme – despite the temptation she brings.

Cheyenne grew up in Indian Rock and left its painful memories behind to become a self-made woman. Now her job is to convince Jesse to sell his property. Jesse’s not the kind of man Cheyenne could ever forget, but he’s too wild and dangerous for a woman committed to playing it safe. Yet sparks of attraction fly, tempting Cheyenne to lay it all on the line for the passion she sees in Jesse’s eyes.

Let me start with a confession – I’ve already read Book 2 of this series (McKettrick’s Pride) – and yes, I’m notorious for reading out of sequence. I liked Book 2 well enough to want to backtrack to Book 1, so that’s a good thing, right? *wink*

The plot of this story is nothing new. Girl has a crush on rich, sexy bad boy but nothing comes out of it. Girl leaves town. Years pass. Girl, now a toughened and focused executive, returns to persuade boy, now a rich and sexy layabout, to sell a piece of land to her company. Sparks fly when their eyes meet (again). That’s how their love story starts.

Jesse (the rich and sexy layabout) is living the life he likes – no commitment – he spends his days between rearing horses and playing poker, and leaves the tedious matter of running the family business and making money to his cousins Rance and Keegan (heroes of Book 2 and 3 respectively). He likes women, but there’s no one he’s willing to commit to. I like Jesse for his charm and easy-going demeanour, as well as the deeper side of him, which is solid, quiet, perceptive and compassionate.

Cheyenne (the girl who has a crush on Jesse since her teenage years) has no choice but meet Jesse again, for the sake of her brother and mother. She’s still infatuated with him, and that infatuation turns to love as they spend more time together and she discovers his hidden depths. Cheyenne comes across as a woman who wants everything to turn out all right but she’s not hopeful. She had a tough time growing up, and even now, things are tough for her. I understand why she is the way she is – controlling, fretting and uptight – but even knowing this, she becomes tedious pretty quickly. When she finally loosens up, it is too late and I can’t, in all honesty, say she’s an endearing character.

The conflict between Jesse and Cheyenne is nothing new. He doesn’t tell her something that had happened in his past (because to him it’s a non-issue) and she’s harbouring a secret that she dawdles in disclosing to Jesse and his cousins. Needless to say, both secrets are exposed in due time, and the lovers go their separate ways to lick their wounds. Predictable.

What I do like about this story are:

* Jesse – a likeable and decent layabout

* Jesse’s interaction and camaraderie with Rance and Keegan – well done and amusing

* the ambiance of the setting – the small town feel is evocative

* the various secondary and minor characters – they liven up the story

* the author’s writing – readable and undemanding

3.5 out of 5. I like it – it’s a pleasant, average read. Sensuality: Warm


Brie said...

Nice review, Jace.

I always dislike it when I like one of the characters in the romance more than the other. If they are not on equal footing then the romance doesn't work for me.

I have a McKettrick (The McKettrick Way) in my TBR pile that I was planning to read next month. I might move it up now, just out of curiosity about this series.

Frances said...

Great review Jace. At least you liked one of the protags. :-) I have a real hard time with likeable layabouts though. Somebody's gotta work, and I like being the one to layabout. My, my, what's a girl to do? LOL

Christine said...

Nice review, Jace! I'm not very familiar with this author. I'm glad that it was at least a bit enjoyable. I like city girl, country boy (and vice versa) type stories--and this one sounds a bit like that.

LOL @ Frances!!! I'm afraid one of you has to be independently wealthy in order for that to work out for you! ;)

Brandy said...

I wasn't sure if I'd like this one and haven't picked it up. Thanks for the review, it helped me make up my mind.

Jace said...

Brie: It is rare nowadays that I will find a couple who I like equally. I tend to like the heroes more than the heroines! LOL You're right - the romance doesn't quite work when we like one more than the other.

I was thinking of getting McKettrick's Way too. :-) The heroine is the cousin of Jesse ... she was mentioned very briefly in this book.

I like the small-town feel and the close-knit relationships of Miller's stories, so I guess I'll continue reading this series. :-)

Jace said...

Frances: Thanks for stopping by! You always make me laugh. LOL Jesse is a VERY rich man - his dividend checks come in quicker than he can spend them, plus he's VERY lucky at the poker table - so I guess it'd be a shame if he DIDN'T layabout. LOL

Christine: City girl, country boy, eh? Hmmmmm, I guess this one is a LITTLE like that. Cheyenne left the small town when she was a teenager, so she's not exactly a city girl. When she got back, she settled into the small-time life quite quickly and she already knows most of the people there.

I think the story that fits this criteria better is Rance's story, McKettrick's Pride (2nd story). The heroine is an "outsider" so we get to see the town and its people through her eyes. I liked Rance's story more than Jesse's story. :-)

Jace said...

Brandy: I hope I haven't turned you away from Miller's books for good! She DOES have some very nicely-written stories!

I must say that Miller is one of my comfort-read authors. :-) She is one of the first romance authors I read, and I've read most of her older Western stories.

If you want to try one of hers, and if your library has it, I'd recommend McKettrick's Pride, which is Rance's story. You don't need to read Jesse's story (Book 1) first as the stories pretty much stand on their own. :-)

nath said...

Seems like you're enjoying this series more than I did. I remember reading this one and thinking meh. The whole trilogy in my opinion wasn't great... but then, I'm a hard grader ^_^;

Jace said...

Hey Nath, I guess I give this author a lot of lee-way because her books are comfort-reads for me. ;)

Margot said...

Hi - I'm new to this challenge and to your blog. So far, I like both. I also read this book and so was interested in your review. I agree with you. I like most of Linda Lael Miller's books but haven't read all of them. She has a new one I'm reading now and will review in the next couple of weeks. I'll add to the challenge when it's ready.

Jace said...

Hi Margot ... welcome to my blog! :D And I'm glad that you like it so far. :) I'll be looking out for your review of LL Miller's new book.