Lori's review of Big Sky Country by Linda Lael Miller
The illegitimate son of a wealthy rancher, Sheriff Slade Barlow grew up in a trailer hitched to the Curly-Burly hair salon his mother runs. He was never acknowledged by his father-until now. Suddenly, Slade has inherited half of Whisper Creek Ranch, one of the most prosperous in Parable, Montana. That doesn't sit well with his half brother, Hutch, who grew up with all the rights of a Carmody. Including the affections of Joslyn Kirk, homecoming queen, rodeo queen, beauty queen-whom Slade has never forgotten.
But Joslyn is barely holding her head up these days as she works to pay back everyone her crooked stepfather cheated. With a town to protect-plus a rebellious teenage stepdaughter-Slade has his hands full. But someone has to convince Joslyn that she's responsible only for her own actions. Such as her effect on this lawman's guarded heart.
Linda Lael Miller begins a new series set in Parable, Montana. I thought this book had a great premise – I really liked the relationship between the two brothers, Slade and Hutch. I thought the antagonistic and competitive nature between them was realistic, given their circumstances. I really enjoyed the way they had to come to an understanding, and yet it wasn't easy.
Joslyn took a lot on herself, feeling responsible for her step-father's misdeeds. After paying off all his debts, she still feels drawn toward her hometown, where she isn't the most welcome sight. She brings back a lot of memories for people in the town.
LML writes fantastic interpersonal relationships. Slade and his mother were wonderful together. I also loved the relationship that he had with his step-daughter. A true father-daughter bond strained by distance and divorce, but both fully loving the other. And the grown-up way that he and his ex-wife chose to handle their relationship for Shea's sake. If only all divorced parents worked things out for the best interest of their children.
I loved the way that Joslyn looked up to her old housekeeper as a surrogate mother, and whoa. Cannot wait to read the story of Hutch and Joslyn's friend, Kendra.
At its heart, this is a very character-driven novel, with the external conflicts serving only to develop and grow relationships between the characters. LLM writes great characters. Real people. After reading a ton of novellas, it felt so wonderful that she took the time to develop these characters, infuse them with personality, and create a great new setting in Parable.
My only complaint was that the book kind of ended quickly and abruptly with the I love yous and a wedding. I felt a little cheated after a long wonderful book. I wanted a more thoughtful resolution and ending. Though I loved the way that Slade and Hutch just nodded and moved on. In that way that men do. I can see that over time they will develop a great relationship, and I'm really looking forward to Hutch's book.
4.25 out of 5
This book is available from HQN. You can buy it here or here in e-format. Share this post!