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High Country Bride    by Linda Lael Miller order for
High Country Bride
by Linda Lael Miller
Order:  USA  Can
Pocket, 2002 (2002)
Paperback, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Arizona rancher Angus McKettrick is getting tired of waiting around for his three sons to settle down and present him with grandchildren, thus assuring the next generation of McKettricks. With his sons showing no initiative, the elder McKettrick calls them together and lays down the law: the first one to marry and father an heir will inherit the Triple M, lock, stock and barrel. This ultimatum does not sit well with Rafe, Kade, or Jeb. Without further ado the brothers gallop off to round up willing brides, each one of them stubbornly determined to best the other.

Emmaline Harding has grown up wanting for nothing and has received the best education her aunt's money can buy. But all the money and schooling in the world can't give her what she truly wants -- companionship and a place to fit in. Unfortunately the good people of Kansas City don't want to get too cozy with the relative of a woman who runs a 'boarding house' -- not that her aunt Becky has every allowed Emmaline to acquaint herself with any aspect of the 'business'. One night on a whim Emmaline slips into one of the girls' gaudy dresses and after she sips too many drinks things quickly go awry. Next morning Emmaline wakes with a pounding head, a pile of gold coins on the bed and a sick certainty that she's been 'ruined'. Mortified that she's disappointed her beloved aunt Becky, Emmaline answers an advertisement for a mail order bride and is soon on the stage to Arizona as Mrs. Rafe McKettrick.

As it turns out, Rafe is more than pleased with his brand new bride: she's pretty, charming and seems to hit it off with his entire family. Once she learns the ways of ranch life she'll fit right in and be a wonderful mother for his children. What Rafe doesn't anticipate is that Emmaline's stubborness rivals his own. While he wants to get right to the task of producing an heir, she prefers to 'get to know her husband' first. Rafe reluctantly agrees and as each day passes everything about Emmaline enchants him. But when a stranger rides into town with more than a passing interest in his wife, Rafe's growing love gives way to suspicions that could spell the end of their happy union.

Consummate storyteller Linda Lael Miller has produced another delightful romance in High Country Bride, her latest western historical and the first book in a brand new series. Combining great writing, authentic background, her trademark humour and most of all, very appealing characters, the author creates a story that's reminiscent of those good old fashioned westerns that we just don't see enough of anymore -- don't miss it. And look for Shotgun Bride, Kade's story, later in 2003.

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