Willow Brook's Reviews > Secondhand Bride

Secondhand Bride by Linda Lael Miller
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Dec 28, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: historical
Read from January 09 to 10, 2011

Another wonderful book about the McKettricks and their women, though the hero and heroine are my least favorites so far of this generation. Despite that, the interactions among all the McKettricks and their friends and the fast moving plot made this a fun, absorbing read.

Secondhand Bride the story of youngest son Jeb's marriage to the schoolteacher, Chloe. They marry when Jeb is hanging out in Tombstone, but both are disillusioned when Jeb is told Chloe is already married and Chloe finds out Jeb has been spurred on to marriage by his father's contest that whichever of his sons marries and produces a grandchild first will inherit the bulk of their ranch. The person doing the telling of these bits of news is Chloe's first husband, now ex. Jeb blows a fuse and refuses to listen to Chloe when she tells him she is divorced. He leaves town with his brother Kade who was sent by their father to bring him home. A couple months pass and when Chloe shows up in Jeb's hometown seeking a job as a teacher, she sees Jeb upon her arrival and the fireworks begin. Their love/hate or maybe passion/anger relationship continues throughout the book and was the weakest part of an otherwise very enjoyable story.

Jeb struck me as immature and a slacker. Not a bad person, but only just becoming serious about making his way in the world instead of coasting along on charm and audacity as he has for the previous 28 years. I thought he said some pretty awful things to Chloe and there wasn't anywhere near the groveling needed to make up for devastating her a time or two. And that brings me to Chloe who I expected to be feisty and tough the way her sisters-in-law Emmeline and Mandy were in the previous books. All indications at the end of the second book were that she'd be even more of a force to be reckoned with but instead I found her pretty passive. She cried a whole lot, too. Don't get me wrong -- if I found myself in 1880's Arizona I'd be crying all the time too, and that'd be without my husband being mean to me. But coming after the previous two heroines who fought back when their husbands were jerks and tried never to show their hurt, it was a bit of a surprise. But maybe she was just more like an average woman but with a bit of a doormat streak to her.

Fortunately, the rest of the story was great. Another psychopathic killer comes to town to make trouble and he is a creepy, dangerous guy. A delightful little McKettrick girl (Holt's daughter Lizzie who he didn't realize he had) joins the family. As is typical of Miller's children, Lizzie not only holds her own with her colorful relatives but is a scene stealer. The plot rolls along, lots going on but never bogging down. There is danger, adventure, stupidity (Jeb's for the most part), brothers bonding, wives and husbands finding happiness together, babies being born, and the gruff old patriarch showing his softer side (in a real awww moment) with the grand-daughter he's just discovered. In fact it is watching the various McKettrick men and women interact with Lizzie that you most see the goodness, love and strength of this family. At the close of the book, the "contest" that started the series is put an end to by the women in maybe not the most believable set of circumstances but certainly with a very enjoyable outcome.

Now on to Holt's story in the final installment of this series.
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