Pocket, Dec 2002, 7.99, 448 pp.
In 1884 Indian Rock, Arizona Territory, Angus McKettrick is irate with his three adult children as none of them remember his birthday. Hurt, he tells his three sons that the first to marry and have a child will inherit the ranch. The oldest son Rafe sends for a mail order bride.
In Kansas City, Emmeline Harding lives with her Aunt Becky in the latter's boarding house that is really a whorehouse. Emmeline normally stays away from the customers, but meets a Texan, gets drunk, and has sex for the first time. An upset Becky throws Emmeline out of the house. Emmeline answers an ad and marries Rafe by proxy. She informs Becky that she is leaving to join her husband.
Emmeline travels to Indian Rock but she keeps secret from Rafe that she grew up in a brothel and had sex once like a whore. When his half-brother arrives, she realizes he is the man she had sex with. Emmeline falls in love with Rafe and tells him the truth about her background. Rafe angrily leaves so Emmeline moves off the ranch leaving little hope for this couple to find happiness together
HIGH COUNTRY BRIDE is an entertaining western historical romance that is superb when the story line focuses on the lead couple. However, the introduction of sidebars that seem to predominantly introduce other characters for future books slows down the strong prime theme. Still readers will delight with the antics of the lead couple and look forward to Linda Lael Miller telling the tales of Rafe's brothers, Kade, and Jeb.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner