Once a Rancher by Linda Lael Miller – Review and GIVEAWAY!

The Carsons of Mustang Creek: three men who embody the West and define what it means to be a rancher, a cowboy and a hero in this brand-new series from the queen of Western romance 

SLATER CARSON might be a filmmaker by trade, but he’s still a cowboy at heart—and he knows the value of a hard day’s work under the hot Wyoming sun. So when he sees troubled teen Ryder heading down a dangerous path, he offers the boy a job on the ranch he shares with his two younger brothers. And since Ryder’s guardian is the gorgeous new Mustang Creek resort manager, Grace Emery, Slater figures it can’t hurt to keep a closer eye on her, as well…

GRACE EMERY doesn’t have time for romance. Between settling into her new job and caring for her ex-husband’s rebellious son, her attraction to larger-than-life Slater is a distraction she can’t afford. But when an unexpected threat emerges, she’ll discover just how far Slater will go to protect what matters most—and that love is always worth fighting for.

Available on Amazon – http://amzn.to/1Ruzri4

In January of 2006, NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Linda Lael Miller left the Arizona horse property she’s called home for the past five years and listened to the call of her heart. Packing up her work-in-progress for HQN Books; her dogs, Sadie and Bernice, and her four horses, the author of more than 70 novels bid farewell to her home in the desert and returned to the place of her birth, Spokane, Washington.

The daughter of a town marshal, Linda grew up in Northport, WA, a community of 500 on the Columbia River, 120 miles north of Spokane. Her childhood remembrances include riding horses and playing cowgirl on her grandparents’ nearby farm. Her grandparents’ spread was so rustic that in the early days it lacked electricity and running water.

As delightful as this childhood was, Linda longed to see the world. After graduating as valedictorian of her high school class, she left to pursue her dream. Because of the success of her author career, Linda was able to live part-time in London for several years, spend time in Italy and travel to such far-off destinations as Russia, Hong Kong and Israel. Now, Linda says, the wanderlust is (mostly) out of her blood, and she’s come full circle, back to the people and the places she knows and loves.

Before Linda begins her writing day, she takes her first cup of coffee while enjoying the scenic view of the wooded draw behind her new home. The first morning there, a snowfall blanketed the pine trees, something she had missed in the desert outside Scottsdale. Still enamored with the people she came to love in Arizona, she says she will still set books in that starkly beautiful area, and, of course, in other stories the action will take place in Washington.

Devoted to helping others pursue their dreams, the author will launch her sixth round of Linda Lael Miller Scholarships for Women in May of this year. A talented speaker, she donates all her speaking honoraria to her scholarship fund. The stipends are awarded to women who seek to better their lot in life through education.

It’s no wonder the protagonists in Miller’s novels are women her readers admire for their honor, courage, trustworthiness, valor and determination to succeed, despite overwhelming odds. ‘These qualities make them excellent role models for young women,’ Miller explains. ‘The male leads possess equally noble traits that today’s woman would be delighted to find in her life’s mate.’

The author traces the birth of her writing career to the day when a Northport teacher told her that the stories she was writing were good, that she just might have a future in writing. Later, when she decided to write novels, she endured her share of rejection before she made her first sale.

Although Linda has written successfully in other genres, she is best known for stories set in the West’stories like McKETTRICK’S CHOICE (HQN Books March 2006 paperback); THE MAN FROM STONE CREEK (HQN, June 2006 hardcover) and that very first novel, FLETCHER’S WOMAN, which is being reissued in 2006. Her stories, set in yesterday’s world, and today’s, are historical romances, romantic thrillers, and other contemporary tales. They consistently score on prestigious national bestseller lists.

Linda has come a long way since leaving her sheltered life in Northport at age 18 to experience the world. ‘Growing up in that time and place, in a family grounded in Western values, served me well,’ she allows. ‘And I’m happy to be back home.’

My Review – 

The Bliss County series has been one of my favorite Linda Lael Miller series. I get so lost in the series that I think I can jump in my car and head on out of town to the ranch. Once a Rancher doesn’t disappoint as another member of Bliss County falls in love. Only this time, the family can’t help but keep making bets behind his back about everything – when he proposes, when the wedding will be…with the most hilarious consequences for the losers.

“Is that coffee I smell?” “Plain?” She suspected he was a just-black-coffee sort of man. “Yes. Put something in it and I’ll get downright cranky.” He ran his fingers through his hair and sat up. “We can’t have that,” Grace said drily, deliberately selecting the pink mug Ryder had given her for Mother’s Day. It had little red hearts all over it and when she brewed Slater a cup-she loved her fancy coffeemaker-and went to hand it to him, she got her morning laugh from the look on his face. She said sweetly, “Black, just the way you like it.” He eyed the cup dubiously. “I’m not sure a real man can drink out of this. I may have to go ride a bull later today or lasso a mountain lion or something like that to renew my masculinity card.”

I have to say that I enjoyed the plot and the scenery of Once a Rancher as it takes place on the ranch and at a high-end spa resort with the mountains as a backdrop. As always, Linda Lael Miller writes in such a way to draw the reader into her world by her descriptions and characters. She has a knack of weaving in characters from the past and future books that not only leave you anticipating the next book in the series but having just enjoyed a visit with the characters from previous books.

(and after his brother losing a bet with their mother) “He felt like he was in heaven, or at least close. Especially when Drake stepped outside with the watering can, cautiously looking around, that hilarious hat perched on his head. “Oh, sh…t,” his brother grumbled, seeing him in the tilted-back chair, booted feet on the railing. “I knew I wasn’t going to catch a break. Good, you can be my witness. I wore the damned hat. I’m a man of my word. All of this your fault, you know.” Slater was laughing so hard he was sure he’d be crying soon. “How so?” he managed to gasp out. That impromptu proposal ruined my timeline.” Drake glowered at him and dumped half a can of water on a poor inoffensive plant. “Any reasonable adult male would talk to his next of kin, meaning his closest brother, before proposing marriage. Hint, hint, me. I thought I had this in the bag. Instead, here I am.” He gestured at the rows of potted plants around him.

I am giving Once a Rancher five stars.

Available on Amazon – http://amzn.to/1Ruzri4

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