The Marriage Pact by Linda Lael Miller (Q/A + Giveaway)

The Marriage Pact by Linda Lael MillerThe Marriage Pact by Linda Lael Miller ( web | tweet )
Previously reviewed: Big Sky Wedding
Publication Date: May 27, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin
Pages: 384
Target audience: Adult
Keywords: small towns, Wyoming, friendship, old loves, fathers/sons
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley. (Thanks!)

Summary: Instead of a fairy tale ending at her wedding 10 years ago, Hadleigh was practically dragged out of the church by Tripp, her deceased brother’s best friend. He “saved” her from making a terrible mistake and now, he’s back in Mustang Creek and Hadleigh is overwhelmed with feelings she’s ignored for a long, long time. Will she finally get closure or does Tripp returning to town mean something else entirely?

When I first heard the term “marriage pact”, I was a little nervous.  I thought Hadleigh and her best friends were swearing off men for good, protecting one another from the “perils” of love. I didn’t give them enough credit. The idea of their marriage pact is actually a positive one. Hadleigh and her two best friends are protecting each other from losers, yes, but they are also focused on finding true, healthy love for one another.

I haven’t read a lot of romance novels that feature best friendship, and I loved reading about three strong, independent ladies who knew what they deserved and wouldn’t settle for any less.

Thankfully Hadleigh has her pals on her side because when Tripp, her deceased brother’s best friend and the guy who dragged her away from her wedding 10 years ago, pops up in Mustang Creek again — she literally has no idea what to feel. She’s still angry at him for embarrassing her in front of the whole town, but it’s more than that. How could he announce he was married after making such a huge production and turn around and leave? As you can imagine, the two have a lot of unfinished business between them in addition to some great banter and crackling chemistry right off the bat.

Tripp’s not making a pit stop in Mustang Creek. After years away from the small town he grew up in, he’s ready to settle down and rediscover his inner cowboy. He’s back to see his darling dad ( actually his stepdad), who is ready for a few changes of his own. Their relationship was so utterly sweet, and I loved that Jim is passing down the house and the land to Tripp. You could tell how big of a deal it was to both of them, and Tripp dives right into the reconstruction of the house and the farm with such care and determination.

But all of these CHANGES can’t keep Hadleigh off his mind especially when he realizes they could really do this thing this time. He’s been divorced for a long time; she’s single (as far as he can tell) and despite whatever happened way way back when, he’s willing to take the time to wear her down and get her to agree to a date.

The Marriage Pact gets so romantic and maybe it’s because Tripp is this strapping cowboy and Hadleigh has always had a thing for him — but I loved how Miller gave these two a second chance in more ways than one. They have both been dealt many blows over the years, had so much in common, and I couldn’t wait for them to come to their senses and create a loving family unit. They were sexy and sweet, and their relationship was so naturally paced.

Throw in some small town gossip, great tiny details, and the open and welcoming Wyoming homestead and The Marriage Pact will leave you with a tingly happy feeling and anxiously awaiting the next book in the Brides of Bliss County series!

You know I cannot resist a cowboy…

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Bonus –> Mini Q&A with Linda Lael Miller, author of THE MARRIAGE PACT

Q: The month of June, aka “Marriage Season,” is quickly approaching! If you could redo your wedding, where would you do it and what would it be like? Did you plan for THE MARRIAGE PACT to come out during the most popular wedding month of the year?

A: If I could redo my wedding, I’d marry a different man.  I’d choose a salt-of-the-earth cowboy type, most likely, and hold the ceremony in a country church.  I didn’t actually choose June for the book’s release—my publisher makes those decisions—but I’m awfully glad it landed there. 

Q: It’s often said that choosing whom you’ll marry is the most important decision of your life. Do you believe that? Do you think your characters believe that? 

A: I absolutely believe choosing a marriage partner is incredibly important, and so do my characters.  Marriage is essentially a sacred promise two people make to each other, and should be honored as such.

Q: What is your favorite scene from the book?

A: I love the opening scene, when Tripp Galloway, the hero, ‘kidnaps’ the heroine, Hadleigh Stevens, seconds before she can say “I do” to the wrong man.

Q: If you could give one piece to newlyweds for a happy life together, what would it be?

A: Tell the truth, no matter what.  Trust is everything in a relationship, and love will not survive long without it.

Q: Can you give us a sneak peak on what is next to come? We’ve heard there are two more Bliss County books after THE MARRIAGE PACT.

A: The next two books are: THE MARRIAGE CHARM, featuring Melody Nolan, Hadleigh’s friend and a participant in the marriage pact, and Spencer “Spence” Hogan, the local police chief.  They were deeply in love at one time, but things fell apart and they went their separate ways.  Now, the attraction remains, but both Spence and Melody are convinced they’re wrong for each other.

This will be followed by THE MARRIAGE SEASON, the story of Becca “Bex” Stuart, the third member of the marriage-pact bunch, and a newcomer to Mustang Creek, sexy widower Tate Calder with two beguiling children and a singular determination to remain single.

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Big thanks to Little Bird Publicity for providing one paperback copy of THE MARRIAGE PACT to a reader in the U.S.
Good luck!

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Estelle: So Tough to Tame by Victoria Dahl

So Tough to Tame by Victoria DahlSo Tough to Tame by Victoria Dahl ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: September 24, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Pages: 384
Target audience: Adult
Keywords: childhood friends, cowboys, secrets
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley! (Thanks!)

Summary: Charlie moves to Jackson to escape a terrible work and romance situation, crashing into childhood crush, Walker, in the process. She can’t forget how she always wished he would look at her like she was special, and after years away from each other, is determined to show him her sexy side. Walker has his own demons but seeing Charlie again seems to distract him for them including his search for work and a sick dad.

I’m pretty sure if it was possible Victoria Dahl’s books would burst into flames if they could.

They are that HOT. Like blushworthy to the infinity power and beyond.

But the best part is underneath all the scorching bedroom scenes, she can craft a good story for both sides of the romance too. I really liked what she did here: reuniting two old friends from high school. Charlie has changed a bit since her days of tutoring Walker, and Walker, well, as Charlie likes to say he’s a walking piece of sex. He tips a cowboy hat, people! How do you resist him? I could not. True story.

Anyway, Charlie has moved to Jackson Hole for a new job in security at a resort but pretty intense problems at her previous job keep her on edge and a little self-conscious about how good she is at her job. Not to mention, she’s pretty sure something shady is going down at her new job too. Walker is kind of in a similar boat boat, searching for jobs seasonly but not doing anything he totally loves. When Charlie comes back into his life, she tries to encourage him to want more for himself but it takes a lot for Walker to understand she’s not insulting him and believes in him.

They both have a little work to do, as well as probably mentioning they want more than just a wild night in bed together every now and then. Small details. Dahl gives both stories detailed backgrounds, never missing a beat. I really appreciate that kind of attention in a romance novel. I haven’t found it super often.

So if you are looking for a novel that gets a little naughty (oh man) but doesn’t ditch story, So Tough to Tame would be so fun for you to check out. (Want more Dahl suggestions? I also loved Close Enough to Touch.)

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The lovely people at Harlequin have offered me a copy of So Tough to Tame to giveaway to one of you! Be sure to enter the Rafflecopter below! Good luck!

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Estelle: Big Sky Wedding by Linda Lael Miller

Big Sky Wedding by Linda Lael Miller: August 2013 Harlequin romanceBig Sky Wedding by Linda Lael Miller  ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: August 27, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin
Pages: 384
Target audience: Adult
Keywords: life changes, ranch, romance, baggage
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley. (Thanks!)
Other book I reviewed by Linda Lael Miller: Big Sky Summer

Summary: Celeb heartthrob Zane Sutton is escaping Hollywood for his neglected ranch in Montana. He doesn’t plan to have his half-brother, Nash, in toe or the mysterious Brylee, living on the ranch next to his. Brylee hasn’t fully moved on since she was jilted at the altar, even though it seems like everyone else has. She’s a workaholic and has been totally avoiding going out with her best girlfriends, yet for some reason she can’t stop thinking about Zane despite their awkward first meeting. Is she capable of moving forward for good?

I think it’s a pretty fair statement to say that you don’t want to meet the man of your dreams when you are literally hugging a tree.

Right? Not exactly the best first impression.

This is how it all starts for Zane and Brylee. It’s one of those situations where they can’t stop thinking about each other after that first, very strange meeting. But things are standing in their way, of course. Zane is focused on settling down on his ranch and unexpectedly integrating his younger brother into his life. (Their dad is known for leaving his kids for long periods of time.)  And though it’s been years since Brylee had been publicly embarrassed when she was left at the altar, she hasn’t moved forward much and, instead, dedicates most of her time and energy to her business.

This is only my second Miller romance, and while I really liked Big Sky Summer, I did like this book more. I think Zane and Brylee were more relatable characters and I liked how the author chose to focus on the lives of these two characters that were undoubtably filled with more than just a budding romance. (In fact, my one complaint is that the romance happens too close to the end and the good stuff felt rushed.) Miller is so fantastic at making her setting shine: the horseback riding, the small town feel, the cowboy hats. I don’t think I’ve ever has a desire to visit Montana and after reading her books, I’m ready to pack my bag.

Let’s be real, folks. A title like Big Sky Wedding pretty much tells us how things are going to turn out, but how Zane and Brylee actually get there? It’s not melodramatic, it’s not over the top unrealistic, it just sort of is. Of course, there’s a good amount of hotness thrown in with some “eff you” heels and a killer red dress. But I don’t want to give too much away. Except there is one detail at the end of the book that really surprised me, and that I thought was a pretty awesome decision on behalf of the gentlemanly Zane.

Oh, and any book that has the line “kiss me cowboy” is a must-read for me.

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The lovely folks at Little Bird Publicity have given us one copy of Big Sky Wedding for a lucky winner (must be a U.S. resident). Good luck!

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