How do you continue to find inspiration after writing so many novels?
That’s a very good question. The answer, I suppose, is that I’m always and forever reading and shamelessly eavesdropping on other people’s conversations. Everything is grist for my mill, so to speak. I might read about a situation and think, “what if–?” and then I’m off and running. My Clare and Tony mysteries, commonly called the Look Books, are a good example—I used to see this guy on TV all the time, when I lived down in Arizona, a lawyer advertising for business. His hair was slicked back and his suit was fancy and I remember thinking he was the ultimate ambulance-chaser, with a clear message: no matter what awful thing you’ve done, we can get you off. I knew that attitude was bound to really tick off, say, a homicide detective, who would have a vested interested in seeing the culprit sent to prison. Voila! Clare Westbrook was my defense attorney heroine, and she was involved with Tony Sonterra, a homicide detective, of course. I’ve been writing for a long time, and I use many techniques to prime the pump—mixed media art is my hobby, and I find that I get some of my best ideas when I’m snipping, gluing, painting, etc. I keep an art journal and make artist trading cards. Trips are always good, too—a change of scene and environment is very stimulating. I need a lot of visual stimulation, I find. I spent a lot of time just looking at things, and imagining things that could happen. I spent a lot of time in Europe, years ago, and oddly enough that was what clued me in that I needed to focus on westerns, since that’s basically my life. You know the old saw, write about what you know.
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Title: Big Sky Country by Linda Lael Miller
Parable Series Book One
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: B+
Review Copy Obtained from Publisher Through NetGalley
The illegitimate son of a wealthy rancher, Sheriff Slade Barlow grew up in a trailer hitched to the Curly-Burly hair salon his mother runs. He was never acknowledged by his father…until now. Suddenly, Slade has inherited half of Whisper Creek Ranch, one of the most prosperous in Parable, Montana. That doesn’t sit well with his half brother, Hutch, who grew up with all the rights of a Carmody—including the affections of Joslyn Kirk, homecoming queen, rodeo queen, beauty queen, whom Slade has never forgotten.
But Joslyn is barely holding her head up these days as she works to pay back everyone her crooked stepfather cheated. With a town to protect, plus a rebellious teenage stepdaughter, Slade has his hands full. But someone has to convince Joslyn that she’s responsible only for her own actions—such as her effect on this lawman’s guarded heart.
Big Sky Country is the outstanding first installment of Linda Lael Miller’s newest series set in Parable, Montana. A beautifully written, complex novel that will capture your heart as love slowly grows between Sheriff Slade Barlow and Joslyn Kirk.
Slade Barlow is the classic strong silent type. Despite being from “the wrong side of the tracks”, he is comfortable in his own skin and oozes self-confidence. Slade is calm and in control, rarely acting on impulse. Slade shares a strong bond with his mother, Callie and he is on friendly terms with his ex-wife and stepdaughter Shea. His unexpected inheritance complicates his already contentious and competitive relationship with his half-brother Hutch.
Growing up in Parable, Joslyn Kirk was a rich kid who had it all. Wealthy stepfather, big mansion, and fancy car until she, her mother and housekeeper/friend fled Parable following her stepfather’s arrest. Feeling disconnected and on the fringes of life, Joslyn returns to the place she considers home. Her homecoming proves to be a learning experience as she discovers a few truths about herself as she renews old friendships and begins a new life. She fights her unwanted attraction to Slade with a bristly attitude that is sometimes quite frustrating. She is relatively inexperienced with men and her shyness is an unexpected delight.
The secondary cast of characters is well-developed and quite likable. Joslyn’s friend Kendra Shepherd is an enigmatic character with a bit of a secret past. She and Hutch share an explosive past and the sparks continue to fly between them. Slade’s stepdaughter Shea is a typical teenager and her relationship with Slade reveals just how kindhearted he is.
Slade and Joslyn’s relationship slowly unfolds throughout Big Sky Country. Both characters undergo a great deal of growth as they cope with the changes occurring in their lives. Watching Slade and Hutch make inroads in their fractious relationship is quite fascinating. I am looking forward to seeing how their relationship grows in the next book of the series, Big Sky Mountain.
Big Sky Country is a captivating story that is delightfully heartwarming. Linda Lael Miller once again charms her readers with multi-faceted and engaging characters, a compelling storyline and a sweet romance. Definitely a recommended read for anyone who enjoys contemporary western romances.
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***The book in this giveaway is courtesy of the Book Trib Blog Tour***