Montana Destiny
by R.C. Ryan
(Forever, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-0-446-54863-2
***
Montana Destiny is Wyatt McCord’s story. Wyatt’s a strong, exciting hero who unfortunately doesn’t meet his match in this story. Nevertheless, it’s an entertaining read.

Wyatt spent his early childhood on his Grandpa Coot’s ranch, hunting for gold and learning to farm and all about the rodeo with his cousins, Zane and Jesse (who has his own story in the prequel, Montana Legacy). The boys were as close as brothers until Wyatt’s parents pulled up stakes and traveled with him all over the world, following their own dreams. Wyatt desperately missed his cousins and the only home he’d ever known. When Wyatt grew up, Coot died and Wyatt came back for his funeral.  He felt like he was back home again with Zane, Jesse, and their Aunt Cora, and decided to finally put down roots.

A few months after Wyatt’s arrival, he notices the new town medic, Marilee Trainor. She is pretty enough to turn his head but she doesn’t spare him a second glance.  Wyatt decides to pull a stunt at the town rodeo guaranteed to get him noticed. It works to some extent: Wyatt ends up on his back in the dirt, but Marilee is duty-bound to check him over to make sure he’s okay, as she’s the acting medic for the rodeo.

Marilee’s practical side tells her to run from this charming, sweet cowboy, but as she attempts to keep some distance between herself and Wyatt, he comes courting in the best way – with her favorite pizza. Wyatt is great company, and Marilee likes him in spite of herself.  Shortly after their first date, Marilee accidentally finds a clue to the whereabouts of the supposed McCord gold. A string of strange accidents begins to threaten Marilee’s life, and Wyatt becomes determined to protect her. Unfortunately, Marilee’s freedom-loving, practical personality is starting to feel smothered by Wyatt’s protective nature, just when she needs him the most.

Montana Destiny had a good start, and a great leading man, but between the uninspiring heroine and the floppy mystery plotline, it just couldn’t make it onto my must-keep shelf.

Wyatt McCord is all cowboy, and I loooooooove cowboys. He is all charm, manners, and hard working man. Wyatt is also unpredictably thoughtful and adorable.  I loved him. He works hard to court Marilee by keeping her off balance. He knows that if she thinks too much, he might lose his shot at dating her, since he’s the town heartbreaker. Wyatt is ready to settle down, though, and he’s determined to have Marilee listen to what he’s ready to tell her.

The beginning of the story is set up really well, Zane and Jesse are great supporting characters, and  the McCord Ranch is detailed beautifully. I can completely imagine Dandy, the cook, stacking pancakes in the kitchen while the cousins settle in for breakfast and check out Coot’s treasure map.

At about the midway point in the story, the series of “mysterious” mishaps begin to happen to Marilee and Wyatt.  It couldn’t be more predictable and the relationship between Marilee and Wyatt seems to really stall and sputter at this point, making it very hard to continue reading.  There’s also some backstory that must be available in Montana Legacy that would make the whole McCord legendary gold cache seem more like fact that fiction. It sure isn’t detailed in Montana Destiny, so I found it hard to understand the big deal behind the apparent driving force of this conspiracy to eliminate Marilee and Wyatt.

Also, Marilee is a bit of a silly girl. Wyatt sure seems enthralled with her but I wasn’t. Marilee is alone in the world, and instead of showing a bit of vulnerability that would have made her seem more human, she’s cold, hurtful and mean to Wyatt, who still thinks she’s the best thing since sliced bread.

All in all, there are good points and bad points to Montana Destiny, but it’s not a summer must-read. 

--Amy Wroblewsky  


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