The Marriage Pact by Linda Lael Miller ( web | tweet )
Previously reviewed: Big Sky Wedding
Publication Date: May 27, 2014
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…
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.
Big thanks to Little Bird Publicity for providing one paperback copy of THE MARRIAGE PACT to a reader in the U.S.