Linda Lael Miller capitalized on that match with Big Sky Summer, the fourth and most recent book in her Parable, Montana, series. This one features not just a cowboy but a downhome girl who became a country star – bonus! (I kept thinking of Carrie Underwood as I was reading)
Summary: With his father's rodeo legacy to continue and a prosperous spread to run, Walker Parrish has no time to dwell on wrecked relationships. But country-western sweetheart Casey Elder is out of the spotlight and back in Parable, Montana. And Walker can't ignore that his "act now, think later" passion for Casey has had consequences. Two teenage consequences!
Keeping her children's paternity under wraps has always been part of Casey's plan to give them normal, uncomplicated lives. Now the best way to hold her family together seems to be to let Walker be a part of it – as her husband of convenience. Or will some secrets – like Casey's desire to be the rancher's wife in every way – unravel, with unforeseen results? – Goodreads
My thoughts: I liked Big Sky Summer more than I liked the two first two books in the series (Big Sky Country #1; Big Sky Mountain #2), but that isn't saying much. I was interested in the premise – a blend of second-chance romance and a marriage of convenience, not to mention the aforementioned cowboy/rock star angle – but the execution was subpar and the plot holes left me frustrated and unfulfilled.
First of all, I was very bothered by the fact that Casey went years without letting her kids know that Wyatt was their father. It isn't that they aren't allowed to see him, but that they think he's just a good family friend – somehow this seemed worse than if Casey had just separated them. Moreover, I found it rather unbelievable that Wyatt would go along with the plan, that he would willingly lie to his kids for so long. There's a particularly jarring scene in which 14-year-old Clare asks if Wyatt would give her away at her wedding, not knowing that he's really her father. At that point in the story, I wanted to punch both Casey and Wyatt for being so cruel and for wasting so many years.
I also found it difficult to really understand Wyatt and Casey's relationship and why they acted the way they did. Part of the problem is that we don't find out their backstory – how'd they manage to have two kids together then separate? – until 75% of the way through the book. By that point, I was no longer interested in the why of their original romance, I just wanted it to be resolved. Early in the book, Wyatt muses that he tends "toward skepticism when it came to love and romance. The kind that lasted, anyhow." Sadly, that was how I felt about his romance with Casey.
Despite my problems with the Parable books, I still keep reading them. I suppose this is a testament to Linda Lael Miller and her ability to create a good setting and tell a good story. I am interested to find out what happens to Walker's sister, Brylee, who was jilted at the altar in Book One. Her book, Big Sky Wedding, is due out in August.
Publisher: HQN Books
Publication Date: May 28, 2013
Length: 320 pages
HELP WANTED: Like I said above, I think a great cowboy romance is the perfect way to while away a lazy summer afternoon, but I keep striking out. Nothing is holding my interest, and the last one I read had such laughably trite "cowboy" dialogue that I barely finished it. Anyone have any suggestions for a cowboy romance that's really, truly good?
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for a fair and honest review.