One ranch. Three sons. Only one will inherit…and on one condition. Tired of waiting for his sons to settle down, Arizona-territory rancher Angus McKettrick announces a competition: the first son to marry and produce a grandchild will inherit Triple M ranch. Now, three distinctly different, equally determined cowboys are searching high and low for brides.
If Emmeline Harding knows one thing, it’s that she can’t hold her liquor. And though she’s not sure how she came to wake up next to a stack of gold coins in a brothel, she fears the worst. Fleeing town as a mail-order bride, she wonders: how will she ever confess her past to her handsome new husband?
Freedom-loving Rafe McKettrick is a man of strong beliefs and stronger passions and he’ll do anything to win the Triple M — even marry a stranger. To his surprise, Emmeline’s charms beguile him even as the secrets he senses she’s hiding ignite jealousy and suspicion. But when a visitor from the past enters the high country, the newlyweds have no choice but to give up on a marriage in name only and seek a union that satisfies them body and soul.
When I first started reading romance, I read a lot of Linda Lael Miller. I soon learned that I really don’t like her heroines. They are too bossy, too spinster-ish, too obnoxious. I could see almost every one of them organizing feminist rallies and turning their husbands into cute little lapdogs. So why did I read High Country Bride? Because it’s a Western. I also read the trilogy with the contemporary McKettrick brothers and was curious about the historical ones.
After Angus McKettrick tells his three sons that he will leave everything to the son who marries and has children first, Rafe knows exactly how he’ll get ahead of his brothers. He’ll send away for a bride. The problem with that is that it takes longer than he hopes for his bride to actually arrive. By the time she does arrive, he’s forgotten all about sending for her.
Emmeline Harding left Kansas City in shame. Growing up in a boarding house (read: brothel) and being raised by her aunt was unconventional to say the least. Her aunt was always determined to raise Emmeline to be respectable, sheltering her as much as possible. That all changes on the night that Emma decides to pretend to be one of her aunts “girls”. After drinking too much while talking to a stranger, the last thing Emmeline remembers is kissing him in the hallway. The next morning, she finds herself almost naked in bed with a stack of coins on the table beside the bed. She is horrified, but that is nothing compared to what her aunt feels after seeing what Emmeline has done. So Emmeline decides to register with Happy Home Matrimonial and soon finds herself married by proxy to Rafe McKettrick.
After meeting her husband, Emmeline has hopes that her marriage will be more that a marriage of convenience. As she finds herself falling for her husband, she struggles with her secret, not knowing how much longer she can keep it to herself. That choice is soon taken out of her hands when the man from the brothel arrives at the ranch, looking for work. Any hope Emmeline has that she won’t be recognized is put to rest the very day he arrives. It’s clear that he remembers exactly who Emmeline is and that night that she’s trying to forget.
This book wasn’t exactly bad, there were just some things I didn’t like about it. I don’t like when men are portrayed as “manly-men” and then when they speak, the are “shy”. That bugs me. Every time Rafe said something to Emmeline “shyly”, I was like WTF??? Emmeline herself kind of grated on my nerves, too. I understood her internal struggle to keep a secret that could ruin her marriage and the new life she was trying to make, but geez. Make a decision already.
When she finally did tell Rafe, I was really disappointed with Rafe’s response. “You were a whore?” is what he asked her. Pul-lease. Talk about double standard. And it wasn’t like she actually meant to do it. What makes it worse for Rafe (and this is totally understandable) is the man that Emmeline was “with” that night, is actually his half-brother. So I could understand his anger there. When he found out what really happened that night, he couldn’t swallow his pride enough to go to his wife.
The shit really hits the fan when they find out that something was wrong with the proxy and they’re actually not married. Fun times after that.
There are three more books in the series. I picked them up at the ubs and will read them…eventually.
3.5 out of 5.