*I was given a free copy of this book in return for an honest review. All thoughts are my own. I was not paid by the publisher or the author for my review.*
Published: June 1, 2014
The Marriage Pact — Linda Lael Miller
I’m back! Dear readers, did you miss me and my reviews? My two week vacation was wonderful and very relaxing but it was so weird to not be reading and reviewing like I had been. I went a WEEK and a HALF without reading a book. That’s a long time in my world!
I fixed that little problem today though… so back to your regularly scheduled programming here at That Ginger Girl Reads.
The Marriage Pact isn’t my first book that I’ve read by the talented Linda Lael Miller. She’s my favorite western/hot cowboy/spunky heroine/sweet romance writing author. I’ve read several of her books in the past, and have loved them all. This book was no different.
The beginning of the book is set ten years in the past. We meet Tripp Galloway — the hunky cowboy — who’s on a mission to stop a wedding. The wedding in question is that of eighteen year old Hadleigh Stevens (I just loved her name) and Oakley Smyth. Hadleigh is the younger sister of Tripp’s best friend whom he served with in the military…and who also died in combat. Once he hears that the wedding is going to take place, Tripp travels thousands of miles by various means of transportation to get to the church before the “I do” part is said by the bride and groom. Oakley and Tripp are both the same age and went to high school together… they’re both about seven years Hadleigh’s senior.
That whole scene, Tripp crashing the wedding, was so hilarious. The only soul in the entire church that says anything, or shows their disagreement with his actions is Hadleigh. Neither the groom or the wedding party try to keep Tripp from tossing her over his shoulder — big frilly dress and all — and hauling her out of the church to his truck. I could picture in my minds eye exactly what was happening. The expressions of disbelief and anger on Hadleigh’s face… I could see it all, thanks to Mrs. Miller’s excellent writing.
Tripp is able to calm Hadleigh down a bit (kind of) and explain why he stopped her from marrying Oakley. It turns out the other man had quite a few skeletons in his closet that he didn’t want to come back and haunt him later. Things seem to be going great until she asks him to take her back to where he’s been living in California… away from the craziness in Wyoming. It isn’t until then that he has to drop his own little bomb of a secret that he’s been keeping. Tripp is married.
Fast forward ten years and you have the current setting of the book. Hadleigh managed to stay un-married to Oakley (thank lawd, he was headed for bad-newsville) and still lives in the charming little town in Wyoming where she and Tripp grew up. Hadleigh and her two best friends, Melody and Bex, make up a marriage pact. All three women want to find the man of their dreams, get married and start a family. Over the years they’ve tried several different ways to accomplish those goals. Nothing seemed to work for any of them, least of all Hadleigh.
Until Tripp Galloway rolls his way back into town and shows up unannounced on her front walkway, divorced and just as sexy as ever.
Talk about a surprise! I loved their first reunion after all that time apart. Neither of them had expected to see the other so soon (or at all in the near future in Hadleigh’s case). Their tense and awkward reunion was everything I didn’t know that I needed it to be. Tripp is a man that is always very sure of himself, but finds that words escape him. Hadleigh was too dumbstruck to really process the fact that he was actually there at first, but was then able to kind of gather her wits about her and formulate thoughts. All of it was so amusing to me.
The relationship between Hadleigh and her two best friends was so precious to me. You were really able to feel the depth of the love and compassion that all three women had for each other. They were fleshed out perfectly, in my opinion and I’m hoping that Bex and Melody will have their own stories… because I want them to find their big love stories too!
Tripp and his stepfather Jim had a precious relationship in my opinion. I just loved how they were together. Jim is a very private man, and doesn’t like to share his business with other people… but that causes some upsets with Tripp. Especially after Tripp comes back to their ranch and finds out that his dad had battled prostate cancer and hadn’t told him. Poor Tripp. He was so frustrated about it, which was completely understandable. I loved being able to watch them come to understandings about how they each needed to communicate in their relationship. To me, men are weird creatures (sorry to all my male readers… I’m sorry) so it was nice to see the dynamic of a father/son relationship and all of their ups and downs in the book. I felt like it added a lot to the story.
I also loved the romance between Hadleigh and Tripp. He’s known her for her whole life, and watched her grow up into a young woman. She grew up idolizing him, and secretly loving him for her whole life. Watching them get over their past issues (the breakup of her wedding…etc) and start to fall in love was magical. He just got stupid around her. I loved it. I loved that they were honest with each other about basically everything. Communication is key in relationships, and there are too many times in these romance novels where things go wrong in the main couple because they don’t communicate. It was a breath of fresh air to not have that problem with Hadleigh and Tripp.
There wasn’t a lot of drama in the book. None of the typical things that happen… for example: the hero says something stupid or pushes the heroine away and they “break up” for a week or a few days before they come back together and declare that they can’t live without the other person in their life. That didn’t happen. I’ve noticed that I’ve come to kind of expect that in my books and when it didn’t happen in this one… I noticed it right away and I think I liked it. It was just a book full of love and happiness.
Linda Lael Miller’s writing was spot on and as wonderful as it ever has been. This one might be my favorite book by her (at least thus far). Like I said earlier, I really hope that both Bex and Melody get their own stories. (Please, please, please Linda? Pretty please?)
10/10 I’d recommend this book to anyone that loves a hunky cowboy that knows what he wants in life and a spunky heroine that doesn’t runaway from love.