McKettrick's Choice by Linda Lael Miller (HQN)
I have been waiting for this book since I started reading the McKettrick series a year ago. Throughout the first three novels, the brother I liked best was Holt, so when I heard Ms. Miller was doing his story as well, I was thrilled. I even went out and paid the money for the hardcover, something I normally don't do, what with the restricted finances and all. But I couldn't wait.
And I wish I could say the book was worth the wait, I really, really do - but unfortunately I can't. Which pains me, because Linda Lael Miller is one of my favorites and the first three books of this series (High Country Bride, Shotgun Bride, Secondhand Bride) were spectacular. The richness of the setting and the emotion of the characters sucked you in and held you until after you finished the last page. And each book seemed better than the last, so my expectations were pretty high with McKettrick's Choice.
McKettrick's Choice equaled the previous three as far as its vivid characters and sense of setting. The plot was interesting and well done. I understood the goals and motivations of both Holt and Lorelei. The secondary characters, while many, were all well drawn and added a great flavour.
The problem I had with this book was simply that I felt rushed all the way through it. It was almost as if Ms. Miller was in a hurry to tell the story, and in doing so, propelled you through the plot and the action but forgot to take the time to engage you in the relationship between Holt and Lorelei. And I really wanted to! I wanted Holt to get his happy ending. And he did, but...well I just didn't feel it.
I kept waiting for the pace to slow down a bit, give me time to catch my breath and delve into what the characters were feeling for each other, but it never happened. I was never quite sure exactly why Holt and Lorelei ended up feeling the way they did. They argued a lot, and the reader was well aware of their good points, but I was never sure when either of them became aware of these things in each other or how that was accomplished. The breakneck speed of the pacing never allowed me a chance to. The plot seemed to take precedence over the emotions, and as you were being rushed along, you never had the time to engage in what was developing between the characters. Emotions took a backseat to the action. Even the first love scene between Holt and Lorelei felt as if it did little more than skim the surface of what I thought they should be feeling at that point.
All that being said, Holt McKettrick is still one of my favorite characters in the western genre and Linda Lael Miller is still one of my favorite authors. She has enough of a track record to make me believe that this was just a strange anomaly rather than the norm. I just wish the anomaly had happened on a different book and not Holt's.
I wouldn't tell anyone not to buy this book, it was an enjoyable read. If you've been following the series, definitely add this one to your list because it rounds things out. But as far as measuring up to what I had been expecting, it didn't quite get there.