The Bridegroom

Deadly Deceptions

Deadly Gamble

Don’t Look Now

High Country Bride

In Your Dreams

The Man from Stone Creek

A McKettrick Christmas

McKettrick’s Luck

McKettrick’s Pride

The McKettrick Way

One Wish

Springwater

Springwater Wedding

Two Brothers

The Vow

A Wanted Man

 

 
McKettricks of Texas: Austin
by Linda Lael Miller
(HQN, $7.99, PG)  ISBN 978-0373-77446-3
***
If you have followed the series, the reader knows that this is the story of this generation of McKettricks – men who are raised to be gentlemen, who love their loving and who love their women.  Miller has already given us Tate and Garrett’s stories.  McKettricks of Texas: Austin is about the youngest brother, Austin, who is known as a hellion rodeo champion and who left his high school sweetheart heartbroken just after high school ended.  Unlike Garrett’s story, this tale does not stand on its own.  There is backstory about Austin that is not repeated here and there is a continuation of the rustling problems that started in the earlier tale.

Austin is now in his late twenties and he has finally grown up.  The story opens as he is sitting in a bar after having bested the bull Buzzsaw, the very same bull that threw him months earlier and almost killed him. Not this time, though.  Austin may have a bad back as a result of riding too soon, but he beat that bull and is proud of it.  His brothers have brought him home and have insisted that he heal this time. Without the time off, there is a strong possibility that his herniated disc will require surgery.

They hire a very convenient nursemaid – Paige Remington.  Paige is an RN in between jobs and she just happens to be living at the ranch while her house in town is being fully renovated. She is also the sister to Julie and Libby Remington, who are about to marry Garrett and Tate, respectively.  However, there is a hitch.  Paige and Austin have a past.  They grew up together and were sweethearts in high school.  Paige had their whole life mapped out…she would become a nurse and Austin would ride in the rodeo and they would live happily ever after.  Austin, being young and scared of all these plans, had decided to make Paige break up with him by acting like he was stepping out on her.  His plan worked too well and he not only got Paige to break up, but he broke her heart and her trust in the bargain.

They are thrown together and agree to call a truce, only because they realize they have to find peace with the past since they are going to be family, albeit by marriage.  The tale shows their strengths and their weaknesses and most of all, shows how neither has quite gotten over the other.  Their romance is solid, moving slowly and with both feeling both lust, mixed emotions and ultimately love.  

There are multiple issues for them to live through which helps point their way.  There is a mare that has been abused who pulls them together at times.  The rustling issue from the past heats up and there are two situations when first Austin and then his dog get hurt, again creating situations where Paige is nursemaid.  There is even an about-face when Paige gets hurt and Austin ends up nursing her. 

Fans will see how Libby and Julie’s lives with Tate and Garrett proceed as they prepare for their double wedding.  The kids from previous stories also play roles, and readers will be able to wrap up this family’s series. 

Austin ended up being very different than what I anticipated in the last story.  He was more emotional, less cynical and much more likable because of it.  Paige took awhile to finish growing up but she ultimately came around and was a good heroine.  The mystery and suspense was truly a backdrop and did not create the feeling of danger that many of Miller’s tales do.  This was not her most well-developed suspense tale.

Overall, however, McKettricks of Texas: Austin delivers  a good ending to a nicely written series and those who have followed it will not be disappointed. 

--Shirley Lyons


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