High Country Bride ; Shotgun Bride

SECONDHAND BRIDE

Linda Lael Miller, Author . Pocket $7.99 (448p) ISBN 978-0-7434-2275-8

Set in 1880s Arizona Territory, the final installment in Miller's McKettrick Cowboys trilogy (High Country Bride ; Shotgun Bride ) finds the short-tempered McKettrick brothers still squabbling and still vying for ownership of the Triple M ranch, which their father, Angus, will give to the first son who marries and provides him with a grandchild. For youngest son, Jeb, the ranch is the one thing in the world that he holds most dear, so with both his older brothers already wed, Jed needs to move it or lose it. A quick marriage to schoolteacher Chloe Wakefield gets him in the race, but when he hears that his new bride already has a husband, he hightails it back to the ranch instead of sticking around to learn the truth. But Chloe, reputation in shreds, isn't about to go down without a fight. The romance between Jeb and Chloe runs lukewarm, but Miller succeeds in drawing a compelling picture of 19th-century ranch life populated with flawed but genuinely likable characters. Prose as bright as moonlight on the prairie keeps the pages turning, and a perfect, if highly improbable, ending ties things up nicely. Still, the story has an unfinished feel, leaving readers to wonder if a spinoff involving Angus's long-lost son Luke and his daughter, Lizzy, is in the works. Agent, Irene Goodman. (Dec.)

Reviewed on: 11/29/2004
Release date: 10/01/2011
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