'Big Sky River' has engaging characters

Lezlie Patterson / McClatchy-Tribune News Service /


“Big Sky River” by Linda Lael Miller (HQN, 368 pgs., $7.99)

Linda Lael Miller offers readers another contemporary western with the third in her “Parable, Montana” series.

Readers have already met Sheriff Boone Taylor and chicken farmer Tara Kendall in previous books, where it was fairly obvious to seasoned romance connoisseurs that the two were destined for couple-dom.

Boone has been sulking for a few years. True, he lost the wife he loved, but it just doesn’t add to his “hunk points” that he essentially has been pouting in a run-down mobile home after banishing his two sons to his sister’s care in another town.

Tara, on the other hand, is an admirable woman. After a disappointing divorce — made more so for the forced estrangement from her beloved stepdaughters — Tara decides to reinvent her life and moves from New York City to rural Montana to become a chicken farmer.

Her next door neighbor is Boone. They don’t hit it off, which is played out in previous books and referred to in this one.

Thankfully, by the time this story gets going Boone has decided to cease and desist his brooding, pouting and sulking. True, his hand is forced a bit when sis calls to tell him her husband’s unexpected injury/surgery/recovery will prevent her from keeping his sons for a while.

Boone brings the boys back to Parable, at about the same time Tara’s ex-husband dumps his twin daughters on her —much to Tara’s delight.

Except for the tantrums and sulkiness of Boone’s youngest son (like father) the kids are all too-good-to-be-true delightful. Of course, this is romance fiction, so it really doesn’t have to portray real life. In fact, it’s preferable that it doesn’t.

As the past two books, the story is a bit thin on plot and romance. The hero and heroine just don’t spend enough time together. But the characters are engaging, the setting is charming and glimpses of familiar folks from the early books make it a satisfying read.