Author: Linda Lael Miller
Linda Lael Miller is an extremely prolific American author, having written more than 85 novels, across a variety of genres. My introduction to Miller’s work came through her recent Western releases with Harlequin. I keep wanting to call this a rural romance but being American it is more of a Western, complete with super sexy cowboys. The 2011 Creed Cowboy trilogy – Creed’s Redemption, Creed’s Honour and The Creed Legacy each debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list.
Big Sky Country is the first book in the Big Sky series set in Parable, Montana. A small country town, a relatively tight knit community and somewhere that everyone knows your name – and your history. Therein lies quite a problem for our protagonists, neither of them really want the entire town knowing as much as they do.
Sheriff Slade Barlow is the illegitimate son of a wealthy rancher, the whole town knows who his father is but the man never once acknowledged him. He grew up in a trailer with his mother, always struggling to get by and working from an early age to help out, as all the while his father and younger half brother lived on a huge ranch across town. It was how he was raised and knowing no different Slade expects nothing when the will is read after his fathers passing. Imagine the surprise that slaps these brothers when the estate is split equally between them.
Hutch, heir to Willow Creek Ranch (sole heir as far as he thought), is Slade’s younger brother and has been raised on the ranch and groomed to take over. He and Slade have never gotten along. All through their lives the two have clashed, competing against one another at everything and sharing the ranch does not seem like it’s ever going to be possible.
Joslyn Kirk, one time town favourite and high school sweetheart of Hutch, has returned to Parable for reasons that even she can’t be completely sure of. She spent some of her happiest times in Parable in her younger years but that all came to an abrupt end many years ago. Joslyn has returned to see if she can atone for the sins of someone else’s past, and she is a little apprehensive of the welcome she will receive.
These are the three characters we follow the closest in the first book of the latest Miller trilogy, they are only a few of the Parable locals that we meet and the book lets us start getting to know many more of the local characters we will be spending time with for the rest of the series.
There are few people who can personify animals convincingly enough that I believe it but Miller is definitely one of those people. Jasper is a dog whose life has always been on the ranch and when his master dies Jasper takes it upon himself to make the custody arrangements, throughout these early stages and right to the end of the book Jasper is a character on his own merit. The way his expressions and behaviours are described make it simple to picture Jasper and get to know him. Jasper isn’t the only animal brought so vividly to life but he is the most memorable.
There is a strong element of romance running right through the heart of this novel, romance that simmers below the surface and makes you wonder if these people will ever open their eyes and see what we see. The chemistry is apparent from early on and you are left wondering what will come of it, or how long it will be dragged out at least.
The characters are maybe a little over developed in some cases and we were fed superfluous information that may become more relevant in subsequent volumes but for now seemed a little overboard. I did like that there are recurring family elements across different characters, it added a depth of perspective that I appreciate and illustrates the understanding that comes from different perspectives on similar circumstances.
Big Sky Country is a book that I really enjoyed. I like the storyline, the setting, the romance and the characters. Linda Lael Millers writing style is easy to read, easy to follow and easy to get caught up in. I am really looking forward to finding out what is in store for us in Big Sky Mountain.
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