A Lawman's Christmas is the latest in Linda Lael Miller's McKettrick saga and features Clay McKettrick who leaves Arizona to accept a marshal's job in the town of Blue River, Texas.
When Clay McKettrick accepts a job as the marshal of the small town Blue River, Texas, it's not his only plan, but a means to achieve what he really wants: a wife, children, and a ranch. The time is 1914. Hostilities in Europe are hotting up; it's only a matter of time until buyers will be looking for cattle to feed the armies. Clay plans to be ready. What he doesn't plan on is falling for his predecessor's widow.
Dara Rose Nolan is occupying the cottage promised to the new marshal as part of his pay package. But Dara Rose and her two small girls don't have another place to go...not unless she decides to accept a neighboring rancher's offer to be his housekeeper and send her daughters to the poor house. Clay, struck by the young woman's plight and determination, decides he can bunk at the jailhouse until other arrangements can be made, but two things happen to change his mind. First, he's attracted to the young woman and her precocious daughters, and second, the town council is going to evict Dara Rose and sell the cottage if Clay isn't going to use it. A hasty marriage seems the expedient thing to do, but is it the answer or an attempt at a solution with even greater problems?
Dara Rose is also attracted to Clay, but can she risk telling the handsome lawman her own secrets? Can she risk her heart over a man who may turn out to be one more disappointment in a life of disappointments?
Ms. Miller has created a charming Christmas story that had me hooked from the first page. Dara Rose and her daughters were very much three-dimensional characters, and her hesitance around Clay understandable. I liked her resourcefulness and thrift, even thought I didn't buy the December productivity of her laying hens (mine all but stop laying in October and don't begin again until February, but maybe California hens differ from Texas hens?) Still, the eggs arriving in the nick of time makes for a sweet story. I felt the epilogue was overdone in that it was an eleven page love scene which seemed like an add-on, just to show the reader that Dara Rose and Clay were going to have a steamy marriage. In the case of A Lawman's Christmas with its charming setting and delightful characters, I think less is more.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Charming Romance, Great CharactersOct. 1 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
It's been a while since I've had the pleasure of reading a new western historical romance from Ms. Miller since lately most of her new releases have been contemporary westerns and that may be the reason I devoured this book in practically one sitting. Or it could be that, like always, I found her characters so multi-dimensional and her hero so darn appealing that I just couldn't put the book down. Ms. Miller's characters have a way of sitting down right in the middle of my heart and Dara Rose and especially her children, Harriet and Edrina, are no exception. Even though the ending was a happy one and not unexpected, tears still filled my eyes and that ability to pull emotion, which is done throughout the book, is what makes this book so enjoyable and a perfect read for the holidays. I hope Ms. Miller follows this one up with a book about Clay's cousin Sawyer because not only is he an intriguing character but I want to check in on little Edrina and Harriet and see how they are getting along with their new Daddy. This is a charming romance with appealing characters that will sweep you up and transport you in an instant to the heart of the Old West.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
LLM should probably be ashamed of this oneDec 10 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
I've read all of LLM's books ... usually I enjoy them. This one... eh not so much.
There are good points. It's a sweet little story, charming characters, easy, comfortable read.
Now for the bad... it's very very short. I'm a slow/average reader and this one felt like I barely had time to blink. There was a bad man... but he didn't do much more than hurl a few insults and stomp off REAL mad!!! There was potential there and it felt like the author just took the easy way out. Very little drama or action. Again... there was potential but it seemed like this is something she wrote in an afternoon just to make a few extra bucks. I really can't help but feel ripped off.
This paragraph contains SPOILERS so please skip over if you please: There was huge glaring error in the story. Clay's cousin, Sawyer, shows up late one night and leaves early the next morning. He never even meets Dara Rose. And Clay doesn't propose to Dara Rose until later that night after Sawyer is long gone! The next day Clay and Dara Rose are married. The day after that a box arrives from Clay's mother with a note for him congratulating him on his new bride and step-children whom Sawyer has told them all about. She also includes oranges and books as gifts for the children. WHAT??? Now this story is set in 1914, I wasn't around then but I'm pretty sure they did NOT have Fed-Ex overnight delivery. I doubt Sawyer could have even sent the family a telegram that soon even if he had met Dara Rose or knew about the wedding. This error, to me, coming from an experienced, award winning author is absolutely unforgivable. Why didn't an editor catch this?
Overall... very disappointing.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
An okay story surrounded by the hopes of Christmas...Dec 29 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
Clay McKettrick arrives in 1914 Blue River, TX to become the new Marshal. He meets up with little sassy Edrina Nolan who should be in school. Edrina is an enjoyable character whose favorite expression is "thunderation!". Clay takes her home on his horse where he first sees beautiful Dora Rose, Edrina's mother. Dora Rose was married to the former Marshal who is now deceased. The problem for Dora Rose is that she is still living in the Marshal's home that is paid for by the town. With Clay's arrival, she knows her time is limited and her future is uncertain. Dora desperately searches for ways to make a living while keeping her and her daughters together. She doesn't like her options and Clay is searching for a way to build a future. The story is very cut and dry. Not much drama or romance. Plus, there wasn't an aspect of danger that is found in some of these books.
Since this takes place during the Christmas season you will recognize many reasons for the season, such as, caring for others less fortunate, giving and sharing what we can, and receiving special gifts from the generous people in our lives.
My favorite McKettrick story is McKettrick's Heart (McKettrick Men Series #3) followed by McKettrick's Pride (Hqn).
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
What kind of story are you willing to pay?Oct. 29 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
I guess I should have read reviews before picking up this book. Then again considering there is just one review with 1 star, I would probably pick this because there are a lot of 4 and 5 stars. First chapter gave you an excellent picture of Clay McKettrick - a perfect cowboy with adoring and loyal family and nursing a slightly broken heart. Although, for me who read every cowboy story in the 1700s to the present, it's a common enough character. I don't mind that, maybe the author will give more UNIQUENESS on Clay's character as the story goes on. NOPE, he is just like any other golden-hero cowboy character. He goes around the town checking on his responsibility, rescue an stray dog, marry the heroine to save her from another man's hands, make their Christmas a happy one, a perfect father to the heroine's children, you get the picture. The heroine, Dara Rose Nolan, is introduced as plain rude to the hero who escorted her wayward - though charming - daughter home. I keep reading hoping to find why did the author introduced her as a shrew but all I read was because she was just a hair thin away to the poor house and scared. (I think that's just a bull excuse to make those barely scraping people appear rude.) Anyway, Dara is the widow of the last marshal in town and left with two kids to support she is just a step away from either marrying a man she cannot stand or selling herself. Then when told that she only has two weeks to stay in a borrowed place she married Clay, for the sake of the children, and then they live HEA. So that's it, Clay come into town to be a marshal first, before becoming a rancher and then he met a rude Dara - and by the way he never mind being treated rude because just like any other man he only noticed that Dara heats his blood (I wonder what men readers think about that)- learned of her hard situation, offered a marriage-in-name-only, and they rode into the sunset. I was waiting for the scorned guy to act since they made it clear he is a man who hold grudge but no, nothing came, except that he married another widow in the same place as Dara. I don't mind reading the same plot, I just hope there is new twist that can surprise me. I don't mind meeting the same character again and again, as long as they will lead me into a merry chase and put me on the edge of my chair a time or two. I don't mind short story, as long as when I put down the book I smile thinking it was a good hour or two. If you like easy and uncomplicated plot this is your book. The characters really are perfect neighbors, with the town gossip, the town bully, cute kids, obedient dog, perfect horse, and loving family. More than half the book was spend cataloging Dara's activity as a poor widow. If you are looking for story that will intrique, worry, and pull you in then skip this book. For the price, I think it's a ripped off. I don't exactly hate this book, I just think it's not worth two or more to those paying readers who expect their book the way I do.