Always a Cowboy (Linda Lael Miller)

August 31, 2016 Book Reviews 8 ★★★½

Always a Cowboy (Linda Lael Miller)Always a Cowboy by Linda Lael Miller
Series: Carsons of Mustang Creek #2
Published by HQN Books on Sept. 1, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Western Romance
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: the publisher
Goodreads
three-half-stars
Also in this series: Once a Rancher, Forever a Hero
Also by this author: Christmas in Mustang Creek, Once a Rancher, Forever a Hero

He's the middle of the three Carson brothers and is as stubborn as they come—and he won't thank a beautiful stranger for getting in his way!

Drake Carson is the quintessential cowboy. In charge of the family ranch, he knows the realities of this life, its pleasures and heartbreaks. Lately, managing the wild stallions on his property is wearing him down. When an interfering so-called expert arrives and starts offering her opinion, Drake is wary, but he can't deny the longing—and the challenge—she stirs in him.

Luce Hale is researching how wild horses interact with ranch animals—and with ranchers. The Carson matriarch invites her to stay with the family, which guarantees frequent encounters with Drake, her ruggedly handsome and decidedly unwelcoming son. Luce and Drake are at odds from the very beginning, especially when it comes to the rogue stallion who's stealing the ranch mares. But when Drake believes Luce is in danger, that changes everything—for both of them.

I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

Review

This sequel to Once a Rancher is enjoyable both on its own and as a chance to revisit the Carson family of Mustang Creek. However, it didn’t pull me in quite as much as the first book did. There’s less romantic tension than in the first book; Drake and Luce seem to resolve their differences fairly quickly and easily, considering Drake’s initial resistance to her presence on the ranch and Luce’s long-term goals. On the other hand, there are two interesting subplots, one involving a mare-stealing wild stallion and the other a large predator which has been killing calves. Both of these inject needed conflict and suspense to contrast the relatively smooth-sailing romantic relationship.

I enjoyed Drake, who balances his responsibilities as a rancher with a deep respect and love for wildlife and the natural ecosystem. He’s taciturn and blunt, but also upright and completely trustworthy. Luce is young and charming, if a little obtuse when it comes to recognizing the impact the wild stallion is wreaking on the ranch’s herd of horses. I did find it puzzling that she is completely enamored with the wild horses but doesn’t ride.

Another on the plus side is Roy, Drake’s mentor and assistant in managing the ranch. His folksy sayings are a delight, and he’s really a marshmallow under his gruff exterior. We see less of Slater, Grace, and Ryder than I expected (see Once a Rancher), but they are around, as is youngest brother Mace, who runs the ranch’s wine-making operations. Carson matriarch Blythe is her usual wise and unstoppable self, busily matchmaking as before, abetted in this case (albeit long-distance) by Luce’s mother, Blythe’s childhood friend.

I’m looking forward to Mace’s story next; I have a feeling he’s the most complicated of the three brothers. Forever a Hero comes out in April 2017. Meanwhile, if you haven’t read Linda Lael Miller yet, I recommend starting with Once a Rancher before reading Always a Cowboy; you’ll appreciate the characters better. You may even find, as I have, that you want to go back and read the Bliss County series, too!

 

 

three-half-stars

About Linda Lael Miller

The daughter of a town marshal, Linda Lael Miller is a #1 New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of more than 100 historical and contemporary novels, most of which reflect her love of the West. Raised in Northport, Washington, Linda pursued her wanderlust, living in London and Arizona and traveling the world before returning to the state of her birth to settle down on a horse property outside Spokane.

Linda traces the birth of her writing career to the day when a Northport teacher told her that the stories she was writing were good, that she just might have a future in writing. Later, when she decided to write novels, she endured her share of rejection before she sold Fletcher’s Woman in 1983 to Pocket Books. Since then, Linda has successfully published historicals, contemporaries, paranormals, mysteries and thrillers before coming home, in a literal sense, and concentrating on novels with a Western flavor. For her devotion to her craft, the Romance Writers of America awarded her their prestigious Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.

Hallmark Movie Channel is developing a series based on Linda’s Big Sky Country novels. Her latest book, Forever a Hero, is the third in her Carsons of Mustang Creek series. She is currently working on a big-book Civil War series and writing her next western romance.

Dedicated to helping others, “The First Lady of the West” personally financed fifteen years of her Linda Lael Miller Scholarships for Women, which she awarded to women 25 years and older who were seeking to improve their lot in life through education. She anticipates that her next charitable endeavors will benefit four-legged critters.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • COYER Summer Vacation 2016

8 Responses to “Always a Cowboy (Linda Lael Miller)”

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      Yes, exactly. I thought there was a hint that maybe she had a bad experience as a child or something, but it was never explored. It’s pretty clear her family has money, though, so why wouldn’t she have gotten lessons in high school or college, at least? But the book was fun anyway, and I’m looking forward to Mace’s story, too.