McKettricks of Texas: Austin

McKettricks of Texas: Austin

by Linda Lael Miller

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#1 New York Times bestseller Linda Lael Miller brings you the next installment in her unforgettable McKettricks of Texas series. The three McKettrick brothers meet their matches in the three Remington sisters, and now it's Austin's turn…

World champion rodeo star Austin McKettrick finally got bested by an angry bull. With his career over and his love life a mess, the lone maverick has nowhere to go when the hospital releases him…except back home to Blue River and the Silver Spur ranch. But his overachieving brothers won't allow this cowboy to brood in peace. They've even hired a nurse to speed his recovery. Paige Remington's bossy brand of TLC is driving him crazy. Not to mention her beautiful face, sexy figure and silky black hair.

Paige has lost count of the number of times Austin has tried to fire her. She's not going anywhere till he's healed—body and heart.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780373779963
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication date: 03/31/2015
Series: McKettricks of Texas , #4
Edition description: Original
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 222,513
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 6.60(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Linda LaelMiller is a #1 New YorkTimes and USA TODAY bestselling author of morethan one hundred novels. Long passionate about the Civil War buff, she has studied theera avidly and has made many visits to Gettysburg, where she has witnessedreenactments of the legendary clash between North and South. Linda exploresthat turbulent time in The Yankee Widow.

Date of Birth:

June 10, 1949

Read an Excerpt

Blue River, Texas

The evil brides were gaining on her, closing the gap.

Paige Remington ran blindly down a dark country road, legs pumping, lungs burning, her heart flailing in her throat. Slender tree branches plucked at her from either side with nimble, spidery fingers, slowing her down, and the ground turned soft under her feet.

She pitched forward onto her hands and knees. Felt pebbles dig into her palms.

Behind her, the brides screeched and cackled in delighted triumph.

"This is only a dream," Paige told herself. "Wake up."

Still, sleep did not release her.

Flurries of silk and lace, glittering with tiny rhinestones and lustrous with the glow of seed pearls, swirled around her. She felt surrounded, almost smothered.

Suddenly furious, the dream-Paige surged to her feet.

If the monsters wanted a fight, then by God, she'd give it to them.

Confronting her pursuers now, staring directly at them, Paige recognized the brides. They were—and at the same time, in that curious way of dreams, were not— her sisters, Libby and Julie.

Wedding veils hid their faces, but she knew them anyway. Libby wore a luscious vintage gown of shimmering ivory, while Julie's dress was ultramodern, a little something she'd picked up on a recent romantic getaway to Paris.

"We just want you to try on your bridesmaid's dress," the pair said in creepy unison. "That's all."

"No," Paige said. "I'm not trying on the damn dress. Leave me alone."

They advanced on her. Garment bags had materialized in their arms.

"But you're our only bridesmaid," the two chorused.

"No!" Paige repeated, trying to retreat but stuck fast.

It was then that a voice penetrated the thick surface of the dream. "Hey," the voice said, low and male and disturbingly familiar. "You okay?"

She felt a hand on her shoulder and woke up with a jolt.

And a faceful of Austin McKettrick.

"It just keeps getting worse," she marveled, gripping the arms of the poolside chair where she'd fallen asleep after a solitary lunch in the ranch-house kitchen.

Austin laughed, drew up a chair himself and eased into it with the care of a man much older than his twenty-eight years. His beard was coming in, buttery-brown, and his hair looked a little shaggy.

It ought to require a license, being that good-looking.

"Gee," he drawled. "Thanks."

It galled Paige that after all this time, he could still make her heart flutter. "What are you doing here?" she demanded.

Austin settled back, popping the top on a beer can, letting her know he meant to take his sweet time answering. A scruffy-looking dog meandered in and settled at his booted feet with a little huff of contented resignation.

"I reckon if anybody's going to demand explanations around here," Austin said at long last, "it ought to be me. I live here, Paige."

She'd set herself up for that one. Even seen it coming. And she'd been unable to get out of the way.

Paige drew a deep breath, released it slowly. "I've been staying in the guest suite for a couple of days," she said after a few moments. "The lease was up on my apartment and the renovations on our old house aren't quite finished, so—"

Austin's eyes were a lethal shade of blue—"heirloom" blue, as Paige thought of it, a mixture of new denim and summer sky and every hue in between. According to local legend, the McKettricks had been passing that eye color down for generations.

He studied her for a long time before speaking again. Set the beer aside without taking a sip. "My brothers," he said, "are marrying your sisters."

Paige sighed. "So I've heard," she said.

Austin ignored the slightly snippy response, went on as if she hadn't said anything. "That means," he told her, "that you and I are going to have to learn to be civil to each other. In spite of our history."

Paige recalled some of that history—youthful, frenzied lovemaking upstairs in Austin's boyhood bedroom, the two of them dancing under the stars to music spilling from the radio in his relic of a truck.

And the fights. She closed her eyes, remembering the fights, and her cheeks burned pink.


She glared at him.

"Is it a deal?" he asked quietly.

"Is what a deal?" she snapped.

Austin sighed, shoved a hand through his hair. He looked thinner than the last time she'd seen him, and shadows moved behind the light in his eyes. If she hadn't known better, she would have thought he was in pain—maybe physical, maybe emotional. Maybe both.

He leaned toward her, spoke very slowly and very clearly, as though addressing a foreigner with language challenges. "Whether we like it or not, we're going to be kin, you and me, once New Year's rolls around. My guess is, my brothers and your sisters will still be married at the crack of doom. There'll be a whole lot of Christmases and Thanksgivings and birthday parties to get through, over the years. All of which means—"

"I know what it means," Paige broke in. "And what's with the condescending tone of voice?"

Austin raised both eyebrows. A grin quirked at one corner of his mouth but never quite kicked in. "What's with the bitchy attitude?" he countered. Then he snapped the fingers of his right hand. "Oh, that's right. It's just your normal personality."

Paige rode out another surge of irritation. Much as she hated to admit it, Austin had a point.

Libby was marrying Tate. Julie was marrying Garrett. Tate's twins, Audrey and Ava, were already part of the family, of course, and so was Julie's little boy, Calvin. And both couples wanted more kids, right away. Oh, yes, there would be a lot of birthday parties to attend.

"Could we try this again?" Paige asked, trying to sound unruffled.

Austin tented his fingers under his chin and watched her with an expression of solemn merriment that was all his own. "Sure," he replied, all fake generosity and ironic goodwill. "Go ahead and say something friendly—you can do it. Just pretend I'm a human being."

Paige looked away, and a deep and inexplicable sadness swept over her. "We're never going to get anywhere at this rate," she said.

Time seemed to freeze for an instant, then grind into motion again, gears catching on rusty gears.

And then Austin leaned forward, took a light grip on her hand, ran the pad of his thumb over her knuckles.

A hot shiver went through her; he might have been touching her in all those secret, intimate places no one else had found.

"You're right," Austin said, his tone husky. "We're not. Let's give it a shot, Paige—getting along, I mean."

He looked sincere. He sounded sincere.

Watch out, Paige reminded herself silently. "Okay," she said with dignity.

Another silence followed. Paige, for her part, was trying to imagine what a truce between herself and Austin would actually look like. After all, they'd been at odds since that summer night, soon after they'd both graduated from high school, when Paige had caught the lying, sneaking, no-good bastard—

She drew another deep breath, mentally untangled herself from the past. As best she could.

They'd gotten together by accident, in the beginning— Tate and Libby were going to a movie one Friday night, and, grudgingly, Tate had brought his younger brother along. Paige had gotten the impression that their parents had insisted, and if Tate had refused, it would have been a deal breaker.

Paige had been curled up in an armchair reading a book when Austin turned that fabled charm on her, grinned and asked if she'd like to go to a movie.

After that, she and Austin had been as inseparable as Libby and Tate.

Paige had thought he was playing some game at first, but after a few months, they were a couple. After a year, Paige was on the pill, and they were making love.

Yes, she'd been in love with Austin. She'd lost—okay, given—her virginity to him, along with her trust and, of course, her heart.

Ultimately, he'd betrayed her.

But all that had happened just over ten years ago, before his folks, Jim and Sally McKettrick, were killed in that awful car accident, before her own dad had died of cancer. So very much had happened in the interim and, well, Paige was tired of holding a grudge.

"You were having a bad dream before?" Austin asked presently.

"Huh?" Paige said.

"When I woke you up a little while ago?"

"Yes," she answered, smiling a little. "Thanks for that."

He grinned, making the pit of her stomach quiver for a moment, then reached for his can of beer. Raised it slightly in an offhand toast. "Anytime," he said.

The dog whimpered, chasing something in his sleep. Or running away from something.

"Shep," Austin said, nudging the animal gently with the toe of one boot. "Easy, now. You're all right."

Paige looked down at Shep. "A stray?"

Austin grinned again. This time, there was no smartass edge to his tone. "What gave him away? The matted coat? The dirt, maybe?"

"The poor thing could use a bath," Paige admitted. She'd always had a soft spot for animals—especially the abused, neglected and unwanted ones.

"Garrett promised to hose him down before supper," Austin said. The way he spoke, it was no big deal.

Paige met his gaze, puzzled and not a little annoyed. "Supper's a ways off," she pointed out.

"He'll keep," Austin told her. "Won't you, Shep?"

Paige glanced at her watch. She still had more than an hour before she was due to pick Calvin up in town, at day care. Although she was a nurse by profession, she was between jobs at the moment, as well as between homes. Since Julie was practically meeting herself coming and going these days, between getting ready for the big wedding, holding down her teaching job at the high school and directing the student musical production, Paige had been looking after her nephew a lot lately.

Since she adored Calvin, it was no hardship.

She stood. "I'll do it," she said.

"Do what?" Austin asked.

"Bathe the dog," Paige answered, proud of herself for not adding, since you can't be bothered to do the job yourself.

"I told you," Austin said, frowning. "Garrett will take care of Shep when he gets home."

"No sense in putting it off," Paige said, feeling sorry for the critter.

Shep hauled himself to his feet, watching her with a combination of wariness and hope. His tail swished tentatively to one side, then the other.

And Paige's heart warmed and softened, like so much beeswax.

She crouched, looked straight into the dog's limpid brown eyes.

"I wouldn't hurt you," she said very gently. "Not for the world."

Shep wagged again, this time with more trust, more spirit.

"Paige," Austin interjected cautiously, "he's sort of wild and he probably hasn't had his shots—"

Paige put out a hand, let Shep sniff her fingers and palm and wrist.

She felt something akin to exultation when he didn't retreat. "Nonsense," she said. "He's a sweetheart. Aren't you, Shep?"

She straightened, saw that Austin was standing, too. If it hadn't been for the dog, the man would practically have been on top of her. So to speak.

Heat pulsed in her cheeks.

Something mischievous and far too knowing danced in Austin's eyes. He folded his arms and tilted his head to one side, watching her. She had no clue what he was thinking, and that was even more unsettling.

In order to break the spell, Paige turned and headed for the main part of the house, moving resolutely.

She felt a little zing of triumph when she glanced back and saw the dog hesitate, then fall into step behind her.

Austin couldn't really blame the dog for trailing after Paige—watching that perfect blue-jeaned backside of hers as she walked away left him with little choice but to do likewise. Still, it stung his pride that Shep hadn't waited for him.

Whose dog was he, anyhow?

Paige's apparently. She led the way, like some piper in a fairy tale, with Shep padding right along in her wake, and that was how the three of them ended up in the laundry room, off the kitchen.

Paige knew her way around—she rustled up some old towels and the special mutt shampoo Julie kept around for Harry—and started the water running in one of the big sinks. She spooled out the hand-sprayer and pressed the squirter with a practiced thumb, testing the temperature against the underside of her left wrist.

The sight, ordinary as it was, did something peculiar to Austin.

"Well," Paige said, dropping her gaze to the dog and then letting it fly back to Austin's face, "don't just stand there. Hoist Shep up into the sink so I can wash him." She smiled at Shep. "You're going to feel so much better, once you've had your bath," she assured the critter.

Austin had his pride. He wasn't about to tell this woman that he'd blown out his back and couldn't risk lifting one skinny dog off the floor because he might wind up in traction or something.

He leaned down and carefully looped his arms under Shep's belly. Set him gently in the laundry sink.

Paige introduced Shep to the sprayer with a few little blasts of warm water, and gave him time to sort out how he felt about the experience.

Austin, meanwhile, was just about to congratulate himself on getting away with lifting the dog when he felt a stabbing ache in the same part of his back as when he'd had to be half carried out of Pinky's bar last month. He drew in a sharp breath and grasped the edge of the long counter, where the housekeeper, Esperanza, usually folded sheets and towels.

Steady, he thought. Wait it out.

Paige, preoccupied with sluicing down the dog and apparently oblivious to the way the water was soaking the front of her skimpy T-shirt, paid Austin no attention at all. And that was fine by him, mostly.

The spasm in Austin's back intensified, a giant char-ley horse that he couldn't walk off like one in his calf or the arch of his foot. He bit down hard on his lower lip and shut his eyes.

"Austin?" Paige's voice had changed. It was soft, worried-sounding. "Is something wrong? You're sort of pale and—"

Austin shook his head. The spasm was beginning to subside, though it still hurt like holy-be-Jesus, but talking was beyond him.

He wouldn't risk meeting her gaze. Back when they were just kids and hot and heavy into dating, Paige had shown a disturbing ability to read his mind—not to mention his soul—through his eyes.

Not that she'd been infallible in that regard.

Or maybe, when it really counted, she'd been too mad to look long enough, hard enough.

"I'm—fine," he finally said. The pain was letting up.

Paige reached for the dog shampoo, squeezed a glistening trail of it down Shep's sodden back and began to suds him up.

"Excuse me," she said matter-of-factly, "but you don't look fine."

Poor Shep looked up at him, all bedraggled and wet, but there was a patient expression in his eyes, a willingness to endure, that tightened Austin's throat to the point where he couldn't make a sound.

Paige, a head shorter than he was, bent her knees and turned to peer up into his face. "Are you sick?"

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McKettricks of Texas: Austin 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 219 reviews.
LASR_Reviews More than 1 year ago
Originally posted at: ***** If you've ever done something bad to do something good and found chaos in its wake, then reading about a romance that survived those choices is sweet indeed. Paige is the third sister under the McKettrick influence. She's not happy about it either. Paige is a woman torn by watching her sisters' happiness and her own feelings about it. Ultimately it makes her take a closer look at who she is, and what she really wants out of life. Intermixed is the relationship with her sisters and nieces and nephews. This is a book that encompasses family life and how they all interact in times of emotional need, in times of laughter and happiness and in times of stress and danger. Paige is quite skilled as a nurse and her training holds her in good stead when she's faced with violence and the injuries stemming from it. I liked her sense of humor and her loyalty. Even her nightmares about the 'dress' were comical. I enjoyed how she danced around Austin - that give and take and that mix of the past with the present. She blames him but is it a crutch from long ago or something in the present that bothers her? Paige has to pose some serious questions to herself before it's too late. It's her journey and growth through the story which kept me interested in her character. Austin is a man who lived his dream. He has a lot to deal with when his dream is shattered long before he ever wanted to quit. He loved and lived bull-riding. He made his path and chose some actions in the past that have totally messed up his possible future. Austin is stubborn, loyal, and gruff - and all cowboy. He's also a hurting puppy for quite a bit of the story and that doesn't sit well with a man like him. What I liked about his character is that he never let it truly get him down. He kept his sense of humor and his love for his brothers and sisters-in-law-to-be shined through loud and clear. What is also clear is that he never stopped loving Paige. Unfortunately, what Austin did to her years ago was not only stupid but more effective than he would ever know - until Paige moved in. It forced him to realize many things about himself and he too grows as a character. The conflict isn't all internal. There's been a thread throughout the McKettricks of Texas series which culminates in this final book of the trilogy. Austin's story can stand on its own. The resurgence of a romance between Austin and Paige is like a Phoenix rising. And the criminal element is a serpent in an uncertain cowboy paradise. It affects them all and it's from a source no one would have believed. The reveal is tragic, gripping and it quickly brings all the drama, suspense and nail-biting intrigue to a head. This book has more teeth to the plot because the bad guys are desperate and that made for some very fast flipping of pages. The other two books, about Tate and Garrett, were wonderful romances but this one has the additional WOW factor. I enjoyed the writing of when Austin and Paige get together. I'm not only speaking of when they get physical, although those were special and well written and delightful, I'm talking about their repartee, their dialogue and their internal thoughts. The writing made them vivid and alive and very likable. McKettricks of Texas: Austin is what all great books in a series should be. It stands on its own with endearing and engaging characters that make you appreciate the art of the author. It has a happi
harstan More than 1 year ago
Depressingly yet euphoric, Paige knows she is torn as the last Remington sister left standing single. She will be the bridesmaid at a double ceremony of her siblings Julie (to Garrett McKettrick) and Libby (to Tate McKettrick). Making matters worse she is not at home since her house is undergoing renovation. Unemployed, she is even unhappier when the man who broke her heart, Austin McKettrick returns home after overcoming his doubts and defeating Buzzsaw the bull that almost killed him. When he is shot, Garrett and Tate hire Paige to take care of him. Austin realizes he still loves Paige and has a new life goal to make her happy, if he can persuade her to take a second chance on him for the rest of their lives. The third McKettrick-Remington sibling romance is an entertaining by the book tale with a similar plot to the previous entries. The lead couple is a likable pairing of two nice people, but he hurt her before (just like Tate did to Libby) so has his work cut out to persuade his Remington that he is her McKettrick. Fans of the saga will enjoy the merging of the families. Harriet Klausner
BronwynK on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Felt the ending was a bit rushed, but over all I really liked this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sluggish plotting, cardboard characters, stupid dialogue.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good ending to the series .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Ywybteutzbtuvb t
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm here
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
dutcheja More than 1 year ago
I loved it. Austin is part of a trilogy by Linda Lael Miller, the McKetricks of Texas. I loved the whole trilogy. I have been a big fan of Linda Lael Miller going back for many years. Her books are fast reading, I didn't want to put them down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
najbch More than 1 year ago
I have 3 or 4 favorite authors and Linda Lael Miller is one of them and I have never read one of her books I didn't like
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What if it is Hazelstar!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Oh no! It is either going to be Winterberry or Tabbypelt. Or maybe...Hazelstar...oh no! ((Hello, Emerald!))
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
*Why haven't I thought of it before? Jumping across is the obvious way to go!* Mintkit glanced behind her shoulder. *Hopefully I can get acroos to that pine-filled territory before Winterberry comes... there's so many new things to explore!* She started off a few yards back, took a deep breath, and ran. She got to the egdge of the roaring current and jumped. <p> Of course, a short legged kit would hardly make it halfway across a river by jumping. And Mintkit did just that. When she realized she was descending too early, the she-kit panicked at first. <br> *But I can swim... I'm a WaterClanner!* The thought calmed her. Until she hit the water. Coldness sucked the air out of her lungs. Even if she had her head above water, she wouldn't be able to breathe. The current was faster than winds blowing across the moor and stonger than the thickest oak in the forest. She wildly spun around in the frigid water, cracking her head on the rocks at the bottom more than once and tying to scream, only to have her mouth flooded. Suddenly, Winterberry couldn't come fast enough. She didn't want to explore any more. She didn't care for the other side of the river. She wanted to go home. Home to Tabbypelt's shaggy warm fur, to Winterberry's soft velvety comfort. Even her siblings and Flowerkit seemed like an improvment. But the hopes of her returning grew less and less as she got washed away downriver. Mintkit's lungs were screming for air, her heart beat faster and faster. And she had to face the truth. *I will die here, in this river. I'm probably nowhere near WaterClan territory know.* She relaxed and let the water consume her. She even opened her mouth, allowing water to get to her lungs and the river take her wherever it pleased. She couldn't feel the cold anymore; every inch of he was numb. *This isn't a bad place to die.* Then a pair of jaws clutched her scruff. <p> -&#1071|Reflections&#9830
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