Friday, September 14, 2012

An Outlaw's Christmas by Linda Lael Miller *ARC Review*

With his wild heart, Sawyer McKettrick isn't ready to settle down on the Triple M family ranch in Arizona. So he heads to Blue River, Texas, to seek a job as marshal. But in a blinding snowstorm he's injured—and collapses into the arms of a prim and proper lady in calico.

The shirtless, bandaged stranger recuperating in teacher Piper St. James's room behind the schoolhouse says he's a McKettrick, but he looks like an outlaw. As they wait out the storm, the handsome loner has Piper remembering long-ago dreams of marriage and motherhood. But for how long is Sawyer willing to call Blue River home?

As the gray skies clear, Piper's one holiday wish just might bring two lonely hearts together forever.

Not only have I not read a Linda Lael Miller in a while, I can't remember the last time I picked up a Western that I enjoyed as much as this. Yes, as a Christmas story you know you're in for a heartwarming tale with a great HEA, but the characters in this particular McKettrick installment were quirky, fun, and interesting the entire way through. 

Piper wasn't just an uptight schoolmarm - she has feelings and worries and in spite of all of those she ventures out to do what she can for Sawyer. Once he's actually awake and she's faced with the reality of a real live man living in her room at the schoolhouse...well then things get a little more complicated. She doesn't know what to do; she's nervous about having him there, attracted to him and his forthright attitude, but held back by the repercussions she knows will come about by having him recover there. It's a conundrum I tell you :).

Sawyer doesn't make it any easier just by being himself. He's a 'modern' man in this historical town, understanding that women are smart capable people - and appreciative that Piper doesn't take any crap. Their back and forths were my favorite part of the whole story because each of them were so clearly taken with the other but didn't know what to do about it. When Sawyer finally proposes marriage to salvage Piper's reputation (which should be a spoiler people - Christmas romance) nothing is rushed into. He's very respectful of her inexperience and wants her to enjoy the sexy times as much as he knows he will, lol. The supporting characters from the town and Piper & Sawyer's relatives enhanced the story and definitely played a roll in my overall enjoyment - they each serve a purpose in helping the hero and heroine grow but didn't overreach or become an unnecessary barrier to their HEA. 

Even without background from the rest of the McKettrick books this is a great feel-good stand alone and I highly recommend it. 

Overall Feeling - B+

Series - ...14) The McKettrick Legend 15) A Lawman's Christmas 16) An Outlaw's Christmas

**Title requested from NetGalley**