Series: Carsons of Mustang Creek #3
Published by HQN Books on April 1, 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Western Romance
Source: the publisher
Also in this series: Once a Rancher, Always a Cowboy
Also by this author: Christmas in Mustang Creek, Once a Rancher, Always a Cowboy
For the youngest Carson brother, finding—and fixing—trouble seems to be all in a day's work
Mace Carson is no hero. Back in college, he came upon a woman in trouble and intervened—but he was just one irate Wyoming cowboy with his boots planted firmly on the side of right. Now a successful vintner, Mace is shocked to be reunited with the woman he saved. But it turns out she's in Wyoming on business…a corporate executive representing the company that wants to buy his winery. Only, he's not selling.
Kelly Wright has never forgotten that horrible night ten years ago when Mace came to her rescue, has never forgotten him. The surprising success of a winery in the middle of ranch country has brought her to Mustang Creek, and she's secretly thrilled to discover Mace at the helm. Reluctant to mix business with pleasure, Kelly vows to keep things professional, until her attacker is released from prison and comes for vengeance…against both of them.
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.
Linda Lael Miller’s Wyoming romances are warm and comfortable, offering straightforward relationships without a lot of angst, spiced with humor and an occasional soupcon of danger. Forever A Hero is the third book in the Carsons of Mustang Creek trilogy, and features the youngest Carson brother, Mace, and California businesswoman Kelly Wright.
It’s impossible not to like Mace; he’s confident, comfortable with who he is, direct about what he wants, and he’s got a great sense of humor. He combines the best of traditional Western masculinity with modern attitudes (and sensitivity) toward women. Mace is a gifted and dedicated winemaker; running the winery is his contribution to the ranch.
Kelly arrives in Wyoming to persuade Mace to partner with her employer, a wine conglomerate. The two of them have a history, but not the kind you’d expect — Mace saved Kelly from a sexual assault in progress ten years earlier, when they were both in college, dragging her assailant off her and subduing him before calling the police. They haven’t seen each other since the trial, but she knew who he was when she set up the meeting. In her professional persona, Kelly is a powerhouse; she’s smart, capable, and determined. In fact, she’s just as likable as Mace, but less confident when it comes to her personal life. She worries about how fast their feelings for each other are growing — understandable, since her first marriage ended in divorce, but I did occasionally get annoyed at how much she dwelt on it. However, Kelly is more courageous (and more smitten) than she realizes, so their relationship develops fairly quickly, without too many hiccups or setbacks.
Their story isn’t trouble-free, however. Kelly’s assailant is released from prison and he’s out for revenge. An author like Jayne Ann Krentz or Nora Roberts would emphasize the danger and suspense, perhaps even more than the romance, but for Miller, it’s only one thread in a novel that is mainly about Kelly and Mace’s relationship. I appreciated that; I enjoy romantic suspense, but sometimes I just want a nice, comforting romance with just a hint of danger, and that’s what Miller delivers.
As I mentioned above, Mace and Kelly’s relationship, both personal and business, develops a little too quickly, especially given Kelly’s reasons for holding back. It worked for me anyway, mainly because it fits who Mace is, but once in a while I felt as though the two of them, and the story, were skipping a step here and there. However, that didn’t keep me from enjoying the book!
Beyond the Mace-Kelly story, I love the relationships the Carson brothers have with each other: good-natured teasing and rivalry on the surface, but absolute loyalty and support underneath. And I love the whole Carson family milieu: their wise, indomitable mother Blythe; their feisty, all-knowing cook/housekeeper Harry; and Red, the old ranch hand, whose colorful turns of phrase are almost too Western to be true. Plus, of course, the various spouses and children who have joined the family in the previous two books: Grace and Luce, Ryder, and Daisy. The novel is set in the fictional town of Mustang Creek, where Miller has set at least one previous trilogy and a Christmas novel. Characters from those four books wander in and out of the Carson brothers trilogy as well, giving the fictional town enough depth and history to feel real.
I’m sorry to see the end of the trilogy, and hope Linda Lael Miller will set future novels in Mustang Creek. I’d particularly like to see Raine’s story; she doesn’t appear in person in Forever a Hero, but she’s referenced several times, and did appear in Once a Rancher. Meanwhile, I’ve enjoyed reading about the Carson brothers, and I’ll be eagerly awaiting Miller’s next book.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- COYER Blackout (2016-17)