THE MARRIAGE PACT - Linda Lael Miller
Bliss County Brides , Book 1
HQN
June 2014
ISBN13: 978-0-373-77870-6
Contemporary Romance

Mustang Creek, Wyoming Present Day

Ten years ago, Tripp Galloway arrived back in Mustang Creek, double parked his truck in front of the church, walked right into Hadleigh Stevens's wedding to Oakley Smyth, swept the bride up into his arms, and walked right back out of the church.  Later, at Bad Billy's Burger Palace and Drive-Thru, they faced each other over Hadleigh's cheeseburger and milkshake, and Tripp's meatloaf special.  Then Tripp took Hadleigh home.  Hadleigh wanted to go with Tripp.  She swallowed her pride and asked.  He said no, his wife would not understand.  (Hadleigh had no idea Tripp was married!)

It's been a long time, but Tripp is back in Mustang Creek.  He's sold his charter jet service and moved back to his childhood home, determined to come to terms with his life.  Tripp traded spreadsheets and three piece suits for his step-father's run down ranch.  Jim Galloway married Tripp's mother years ago and accepted Tripp as his own; but they lost Tripp's mom when he was just sixteen.  Then, several years later, Tripp lost his best friend, Hadleigh's brother, Will, who died in Afghanistan.  The last thing Tripp lost was a marriage that never should have been.  Now, after so many losses and too much loneliness, he needs to figure out what to do for the rest of his life.  He thinks about Hadleigh, but he promised Will he'd always watch out for his little sister, and that did not include romancing her.

Hadleigh Stevens has come a long way since that day Tripp carried her out of the church and stopped the wedding that would never have been right.  Unfortunately, she has yet to meet a man who might be her happily-ever-after.  And that really bums her out, so much so that she and her close friends, Melody Nolan and Becca (Bex) Stuart, sat together one night at Bad Billy's lamenting their futures.  They wrote their very own MARRIAGE PACT on a paper napkin, vowing to stay together as friends and support each other until each one of them found her true love.  Hadleigh has her quilt shop, Melody has her jewelry design business, and Bex is opening a successful chain of fitness clubs.  They have their careers and they're happy working in them, but the bane of their existence is the lack of a good man who is forever material.

Now, when Melody and Bex hear about Tripp arriving back in town, they head right to Hadleigh's shop, determined to make her see reason and find out if she's thinking of Tripp as a suitor.  Of course, by now, Hadleigh has already seen Tripp; met his dog, Ridley, and introduced him to her part-time dog, Muggles, who actually belongs to a neighbor who is in the hospital.  It takes some time for Hadleigh and Tripp to come to terms about their relationship, or lack thereof, and they have a lot of baggage to sort out.  Tripp is concerned about his step-father, Jim, who's been sick and just plain lonely; while Hadleigh is just trying to figure out how she really feels about Tripp.

THE MARRIAGE PACT is the first book in a new series, Bliss County Brides , about three best friends who go the extra step to assure that they each find their one and only true love.  They vow that they will never settle for less than the real thing!  Full of love, passion, and tender humor, THE MARRIAGE PACT is a great beginning to a new trilogy of books by one of my favorite authors!  Hadleigh and Tripp's story is a heartfelt romance.

Diana Risso