Stephanie's Reviews > Big Sky Mountain

Big Sky Mountain by Linda Lael Miller
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Aug 04, 12

bookshelves: romance
Read in August, 2012

This review originally appeared at

When I picked this up last night I joked to my husband that I was taking a cowboy to bed with me. My husband, in true geeky form, gave a vague “huh” and returned to his iPad game. What a trusting man he is.

As it turns out, he was right: there was no need to fear that Huch Carmody, the hero of Linda Lael Miller’s latest novel, would drive a wedge into our marriage. Though I’m ordinarily a huge fan of Miller’s work, everything about this one felt a little flat to me–sadly, the only fireworks in this book are the ones that occur on the 4th of July.

The second in Miller’s series based in small-town Parable, Montana, Big Sky Mountain focuses on the elusive romance between wealthy rancher Huch Carmody and his one-time high school flame, Kendra Shepherd. It picks up nine months after Big Sky Country, in which we watched Hutch’s hilariously named half-brother Slade and software developer Joslyn scrap about, fight, seethe, and eventually get hitched, and begins, a little head-spinningly, with a wedding. Hutch’s wedding.

Three pages later, and Hutch is saying I don’t, his bride is bemoaning the coast of the almost-wedding, and the gossip mill is moving at an impressive pace: even the town of Parable, it seems, isn’t above putting together a We Hate Hutch Facebook page. But Hutch knows that he’s made the right decision. Sure, he wants to settle down and have kids (this is a necessity if you’re to be a Miller hero), but it’s got to be with the right woman. And the fact that he’s spent the past nine months accidentally calling his bride-to-be Kendra doesn’t really bode well for their future together.
But Kendra’s got plenty enough on her own plate already. She’s only just adopted four-year-old Madison, the daughter of her cheating, recently deceased ex-husband, and she’s juggling new motherhood along with finding a new place to live and her career as a realtor. However, Madison seems to have taken a shine to Cowboy Man, as she calls him, and thanks to her, Kendra and Hutch begin to cross paths increasingly often
Though the tension between Kendra and Hutch was set up in the previous novel, it seems so much less evident here. For one, I kept wondering how Hutch came to be (almost) marrying another woman, but unfortunately, this is never really explained beyond a laconic “I made a mistake”. And Kendra’s focus is for the most part of the novel on Madison rather than on Hutch, making this one feel a lot more like women’s fiction than a romance novel. Hutch and Kendra seem to come together just because they spend enough time together that they might as well, rather than out of any real passion. Both seem fixated on what ended their relationship all those years ago, but this is never really resolved–they just seem to kiss and make up rather than actually working it out.

Though the characters are generally what I love most about Miller’s work, I felt that there was a lot going on here with minor characters that caused things to lag a little. There’s a subplot, for example, involving the awful deputy Treat that seems extraneous–and given that it involves Hutch sticking up for his ex-fiancee, doesn’t really help move the romance along. (Curiously, I find it difficult to imagine Hutch sticking up for Kendra in the same impassioned manner.)

There’s also a lot of dog-adopting and horses-as-gifts going on here, which although always pleasant to see, is kind of getting a bit stale, particularly given that the same thing happened in the previous book. How many stray pups and out-to-pasture ponies can there possibly be in a small town? The young-adopted-child thing feels familiar as well, as does the fact that the child in question is astonishingly precocious. Will we ever see a four-year-old who’s an out-and-out brat rather than these articulate and insightful mini adults who seem so common in romance novels?

To be honest, the Madison plot line detracted from the love affair between Hutch and Kendra a good deal for me: Madison waxes lyrical about wanting to be part of a nuclear family so often that it almost feels as though Kendra gets it on with Hutch purely to play happy families. And goodness, the constant reiteration about people being prime mother or father material began to grate after a while–surely there’s more to a relationship than the possibility of progeny?

Though I do love being able to curl up with one of Miller’s cowboys, and I always enjoy getting to know her well-rounded characters and marvel at their terrible small-town fashion, on the whole this one just didn’t quite work for me. Still, you can be that I’ll be hanging out for her next release.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Lisa (new) - rated it 1 star

Lisa Stephanie, I found the first Big Sky book very sloopy--my review to be posted shortly. I think Miller is a little too formulatic and is forgetting her details. Either that or she's gone schizophrenic (I don't mean that entirely unkindly). It seems she writes in segments that don't always overlap with each other. Whatever the case, thanks for the review--you saved me reading the book.

Laura I agree with just about everything you said. I found the whole Madison subplot got old after about half way in.

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