I read to cope with the stress of having young kids, so it's doubly frustrating when my role as a mother interferes with my enjoyment of what is probably an otherwise great book! Does this happen to other people? I'm sure that if I had read this 5 years ago, this would have been a 5 star, keeper shelf read for me. But, I could not get past my Mama Brain.
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This is the fifth rough riders book I have read, and all the others have been four and five star reads for me, so I think the fact that I didn't like this one says way more about *me* than about the book or the series (I still plan to read the rest as I love James' voice!). That said, if you are new to the series, I would start with Cowgirl Up and Ride as it's the most "mainstream" and is an easy book to fall in love with. A lot of readers apparently also find Tied Up, Tied Down a great introduction to the series, but the secret baby trope almost never works for me, even under the best of circumstances. Here, Skylar gets pregnant as a result of a one-night stand, calls to tell him (at least she tried!), and is told that he is gone (by his surly twin with whom Skylar doesn't get along with at all). That is the only effort she makes to tell him, despite living in an around populated 90% by people related to him, any one of whom would be happy to relay a message to him.
She goes along on her merry way, has a baby, and then when Kade's mother walks into Skylar's store and sees the baby, she immediately knows a) That it's a McKay baby, b) that it's HER McKay grandbaby as opposed to one of the 9 zillion fertile McKay cousins, and c) that it's Kade's (as opposed to the evil Kane). This despite the fact that the baby is a girl and McKay's don't have girls. Seriously did not like Kade's mama, even without her built-in Baby DNA tester ability. Kade goes to confront Skylar and somehow in the space of seriously less than FIVE MINUTES of talking, he totally assumes the father role and talks Skylar into letting him move in. And then mere hours later, when it's bedtime, she agrees to share a bed with Kade so that he can help with the baby overnight duties.
Um. No. The Rough Riders are supposed to be pure cowboy escapism fantasy, but I just couldn't turn off the Mama part of my brain. She lets a man whom she has had just a few dates with (and never wanted contact with again and intended to never let meet his kid) move into her house? And into her bed? When Walmart has a baby monitor for 10 bucks? Which they later get to allow them to have nookie while the baby sleeps. And as this is a Lorelei James book, they do have a lot of nookie--more than any other parents of a tiny baby I know of.
This is just my own pet peeve here, but Skylar, our vegetarian, hippy, all-natural body products business owner, who is so committed to earth motherhood that she has an onsite daycare, is bottle feeding. Which isn't the end of the world, but it just didn't fit the character at all, and as James has done an awesome job of showing other returning characters nursing, it struck me as a choice made to make it easier for the characters to have no-holds-barred love scenes, to get childcare, and to let Kade help in the night. All of which just reinforces a lot of myths of nursing, and just didn't sit right with me. (And sure, maybe she wasn't able to make it work for her, but a woman like her would have been sad enough about that fact to at least mention it). (Oh and it is possible to have love scenes with a woman who is still breastfeeding--Catherine Anderson's Baby Love is a great example.)
And Skylar is also just darned unlikable. And boring. And Kade, while being an awesome father, is also rather boring when he's not doing cute things like wearing the baby around the ranch and talking to her. His twin brother, Kane, suddenly decided to call himself "Buck" in this book, which while funny, added a whole another layer of confusion to the McKay family name game. This book just didn't click for me at all, but I'm still obsessed with this series, and I really want to read the Colt/Brandt/Kaylee books still. I may skip Kane or save him for last just because I'm not sure if I can love a guy who renames himself "Buck."