This is not the first book I´ve read by the author, but the first I was struggling with to finish it. I know the author as a sensitive and atmospheric writer who usually shows her readers a world of great nature combined with a wonderful heartwarming plot and figures who go through something before they find their happy end. Not here. Kitsch sells, yes, but this one sells it way too much.

Montana Hope-Flüstern Der Sehnsucht*
by Linda Lael Miller
Painted Pony Creek Series #1
Translation Christian Trautmann
Original Title Country Strong
Publisher Mira TB on March 23, 2021
Genre Novel
Pages 414
Format Paperback
Source Mira TB

Three sexy cowboys, as strong, honorable, and independent as Montana, the country they love.
Since she was young, Shallie wanted only one man: Cord Hollister. But then one day she has to leave the small town of Painted Pony Creek in Montana in a hurry. At the time she didn´t tell anyone why or where she was going. Now she is returning to town in search of her past – and because of Cord. He´s a horse whisperer and she needs his help. However, she quickly has to admit that the very sight of him makes her heart beat faster and that her feelings are stronger than ever before. But can he feel the same for her? (Personal translation by ©Vi at Inkvotary).
Shallie wants to lift the mystery about her mother´s life. And why she left her alone when she was only two. And then there is Cord. The man she loves. Shallie wants to know if he loves her too and if there is a future with him. To find answers, she finally comes back home after many years only to find another unsolved challenge. A young woman who is searching for her dad.

I know Linda Lael Miller from her McKettrick series, among other books, and so far for me, with one exception – she has always been an author who has given me more or less nice reading hours. Not this time. The novel is a powerless, predictable, and absolutely unsurprising story. The love story between Cord and Shallie is just plain boring. That certain something was missing here from start to finish. Both in the novel itself and in the relationship between the two characters. I don´t even want to talk about the unfortunate scenes where Shallie and Cord indulge in the mattress sport.

If you can´t write properly about certain things, like a romantic scene or a sex scene, then you shouldn´t. I was surprised in a negative sense when I read one scene after the other that was just stiff, wooden, and provided with a kitschy plot dripping with pathos that simply had far too much of everything-will-be-fine. Where is the tension, the tingling for the reader?

The author also surprised me unpleasantly with the figures. Her characters are usually not as stiff and wooden as here. So, what went so wrong here? I am not used to something like that from the author. That made me very sad because I usually appreciate Linda Lael Miller for her sensitive, creative way of dealing with her characters.

Cord is a man famous for his empathy with horses. Even beyond the borders of Montana. He just knows what to do to heal an injured horse´s soul. It looks a little different from yourself.

I´m disappointed. Because of the author´s name, I expected this novel to be a wonderful story on a ranch in Montana, where, in addition to the expected romantic relationship, there are also some challenges for the young couple to master. Nothing. Anyone looking for an unpretentious novel with a predictable ending and monotonous romance is guaranteed to find it here. Not recommended for everyone else. Too bad. It´s a shame.

Happy reading

*This book was kindly provided to me by Mira TB in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Thank you. Therefore, the cover of the German edition is shown first in this review.

Deutsche Rezension

Ich kenne Linda Lael Miller unter anderem durch ihre McKettrick Serie und bislang war sie für mich - bis auf eine Ausnahme - immer eine Autorin, die mir mehr oder weniger schöne Lesestunden verschafft hat. Diesmal nicht. Der Roman ist eine kraftlose, vorhersehbare und absolut überraschungslose Geschichte. Die Liebesgeschichte zwischen Cord und Shallie einfach nur langweilig. Hier fehlte das gewisse Etwas von Anfang bis Ende. Sowohl dem Roman selbst als auch in der Beziehung zwischen den beiden Figuren. Von den verunglückten Szenen, wo sich Shallie und Cord dem Matratzensport hingeben, will ich mal gar nicht reden.

Wenn man über bestimmte Dinge wie eine romantische Szene oder eine Sexszene nicht richtig schreiben kann, dann sollte man es lassen. Ich war im negativen Sinne überrascht, als ich eine Szene nach der anderen las, die einfach nur steif, hölzern und mit einer kitschigen und vor Pathos nur so triefenden Handlung versehen waren, die schlicht viel zu viel von allem-wird-gut hatte. Wo bleibt da die Spannung, das Prickeln für den Leser?

Auch bei den Figuren hat mich die Autorin unangenehm überrascht. So steif und hölzern wie hier sind ihre Charaktere normaler weise nicht. Was also ist hier so dermaßen schiefgelaufen? So was bin ich von der Autorin nicht gewohnt. Mich hat das sehr traurig gemacht, denn normalerweise schätze ich Linda Lael Miller für ihre feinfühlige, kreative Art, was ihre Charaktere angeht.

Cord ist ein Mann, der für sein Einfühlungsvermögen bei Pferden berühmt ist. Selbst über die Grenzen Montanas hinaus. Er weiß einfach, was zu tun ist, um selbst eine verletzte Pferdeseele wieder zu heilen. Bei sich selbst sieht es da schon etwas anders aus.

Ich bin enttäuscht. Aufgrund des Autorennamens hab ich mir von diesem Roman eine wunderschöne Geschichte auf einer Ranch in Montana erwartet, wo es neben der zu erwartenden romantischen Beziehung auch einige Herausforderungen für das junge Paar zu meistern gibt. Fehlanzeige. Wer einen anspruchslosen Roman mit vorhersehbarem Ende und eintöniger Romanze sucht, der wird hier garantiert fündig. Für alle anderen nicht zu empfehlen. Schade. Sehr schade.

*This book was published in the English language Country Strong by HQN on January 1, 2020 

Linda Lael Miller
Linda Lael Miller ©private

Linda Lael Miller was born in Washington as the daughter of a Town Marshall. She is a #1 New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of more than 100 historical and contemporary novels. The “western lifestyle” she was born into shaped her life. She left Washington and followed her wanderlust while she lived in Arizona and London (Europe) and traveled around the world. After traveling around the “First Lady of the West”, as she is affectionately and appreciatively called by her fans, is happy to be home again. In her home country, she devotes herself to writing contemporary and historical novels, which have already brought her awards and placements on national bestseller lists. She financed fifteen years of her Linda Lael Miller Scholarships for Women, which she awarded to women 25 years and older who were seeking to improve their lot in life through education. As she sees it, her writing career began with a Northport teacher praising her stories and essays and predicting that she would be a good writer. Before “Fletcher´s woman” was sold in paperback in 1983, she wrote historical, contemporary, paranormal stories and thrillers. After that, she concentrated on writing novels with a clear focus on Western culture. The “Romance Writers of America” awarded her the prestigious “Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement” award in 2007. Linda Lael Miller lives today on a horse property near Spokane.


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