Garrett (McKettricks of Texas, #2) - Linda Lael Miller
This is book thirteen of the McKettrick series and is part of a trilogy that tells the story about three brothers who are descendants of the famous clan that started almost a 100 years ago in Texas. In this book it’s the story of the middle brother, Garrett McKettrick. Garret is having a bad night, and is seeing his political ambitions crumble when the senator – whom he has been assisting for years – is having a major meltdown before his eyes by dumping his wife for a stripper.Garret returns back to his childhood home to lick his wounds and to focus on what he should do with his life. Meanwhile, single mother Julie Remington – whose sister is engaged to Garrett’s brother Austin, and were the couple in the previous book – is trying to find her equilibrium. She has to deal with problems at work and the reappearance of the father of her son who left them, but now wants to be part of his life again.I have to say whilst I really enjoyed the previous installments of this series, Garret’s story wasn’t the strongest entry in the series. While there were some nice moments with Julie and Garrett, and with the other family members, I found the plot and pacing was too slow and not as focused as previous books. It really felt it was plodding along at times which dragged the story down.I also found that the attraction between Julie and Garrett was too sudden and convenient, and I could not believe that although they knew each other for years, they suddenly found themselves attracted to one another. That transition from that attraction to the start of the relationship is jarring and I wished more to the foundation of their romance.There was also no sense of buildup or tension at the beginning of the book other than a wham, ‘I’m suddenly attracted to you vibe’. Although I have to admit, whilst I have read the previous books in the series, I did not get the chance to read Austin’s book so I may have missed out on some set up between Julie and Garrett. But after that initial spark, Julie – who has admitted to herself to be more of a go-getter – was reluctant to get involved due to her preconceptions about the differences she had with Garrett. How this was portrayed in the story did not succeed in building tension or a real obstacle between them. Garrett’s own issues with the choice of choosing between having a career in politics, or staying and working at the family ranch and committing to Julie who is uncomfortable with the idea of being a politicians wife, didn’t play out as well either.The side stories I think were a huge letdown in the book and added to the plodding pace whilst not contributing much to the book. For example, Julie’s student who is promising but is struggling financially due to her family’s circumstances, and the reappearance of her son’s father lacked tension. With the former it felt pretty cliched, and I felt like it didn’t really add anything to the story. And Julie – despite feeling preoccupied with by this – didn’t really help her student out other than a few words of encouragement. I was also disappointed that no time was spent on exploring about her ex’s re arrival in her life, and it felt redundant because other than her fears about her son’s reaction, nothing was really explored and the resolution of this subplot ended amicably. I felt that these subplots should have led to something more or at least to some kind of character development.However that is not to say that the book is bad; the plot and the romance improves halfway, and I enjoyed the ending which ramped up the pace and excitement. But I found that the romance was missing that special spark that was apparent in previous books. I was more interested in Austin’s and Julie’s sister story which will be the next book. I don’t mind quiet toned romances,which I think can be the best types due to the subtle nuances that helps to add a tender touch to the love story. But in this case, Garrett and Julie’s story was missing that x-factor and I I would like some tension and buildup. I would have also preferred that there was more focus on the development of the romance, rather than the time spent on the side-stories which didn’t add anything overall.McKettrick’s of Texas: Garrett feels like it might be suffering from middle book trilogy syndrome. Whilst the characters are likable and warm with Linda Lael Miller’s trademark of great dialogue and western setting, I wasn’t engaged with this installment. Maybe I was in a more of a action/pacey mood, but I wished the romance was more focused and developed. While I enjoyed the ending which was the best aspect of the book, this is not a keeper for me. But if you read the previous books and enjoyed them and want to see what happens next then check it out.