The Marriage Season (Brides of Bliss County) - Linda Lael Miller

Series: Brides of Bliss County (Book 3)

Since Hadleigh, Melody and Bex -- the best of best friends -- entered into a marriage pact, two of them have found (and married) the men of their hearts. But Bex doesn't think she'll be as fortunate as the others. Her own first love died years ago in a faraway war, and Bex has lost hope for a happy marriage of her own. She concentrates on her business, a successful chain of fitness clubs, instead.

 

Then, when single father Tate Calder comes to Mustang Creek with his two sons in tow, who befriend Bex's eight-year-old nephew, she and the handsome, aloof newcomer are constantly thrown together. But is the marriage season over? Or can a man with doubts about love be the right husband for a woman who wants it all?

 

Loved this book. Bex is the last of their trio of friends who is unmarried. She is somewhat envious of her friends, who have found their true loves and have babies on the way. When she meets Tate, there's a definite attraction between them, but she's not sure if she's ready for more. Bex had been blissfully in love years before, but the man she loved was killed in the war. She doesn't know if she wants to risk her heart again.

 

Tate has moved to Mustang Creek with his two young sons, ready to start a new business and get on with his life. His marriage hadn't been a good one, and after his wife's death he's ready for a fresh start. He doesn't plan to start any new relationships in the near future, just concentrate on his kids and his business. That's before he meets Bex, and can't get her off his mind.

 

I really liked the way they were initially brought together by the matchmaking efforts of her two friends. Bex knows what they're doing and that she can't stop them, so she just goes with the flow. As the book starts, they are brought together again by something much different. Bex ends up caring for her nephew while her sister tries to get her life together. Josh is a great kid and loves being with his aunt any time he can. Tate plans to take his boys on a fishing trip and invites Bex and Josh along. Tate and Bex connect quickly, and their attraction deepens. 

 

I loved seeing Tate and Bex together. They manage some time alone, giving them a chance to share their pasts and their fears. But most of their time together includes the three boys. I loved seeing them settle in to their relationship, with all the little things that entails. It was wonderful to see how Tate's steadiness helped Bex deal with the stresses of her sister's problems. Bex returned the favor by helping Tate get through the involvement of his father and another investor in his business. There's very little conflict in the relationship, just their need to deal with their own demons before being able to move on.

 

I loved the way that Tate gives Bex the space and time she needs to work through things, and that once she does, Bex is fully committed. I loved the fact that both had been honest about their feelings on marriage, but wasn't surprised when those feelings began to change. Tate admits those feelings to himself first, but doesn't know what he's going to be able to do about it. I loved seeing the way got around her fear. The ending was sweet and romantic and perfect for Tate and Bex.

 

I loved the theme of friendship that was as present in this book as in the previous two. Hadleigh and Melody are there for Bex during her rough times, just as she was there for them. I liked that that same friendship extended to the men in their lives. Those same men didn't hesitate to step up and be there for Bex when she needed help with her sister's situation.

 

I also loved the small town of Mustang Creek, where everyone knows everyone else and their business. There were the caring bits, such as the conversation between Bex and the school secretary about Josh. And there were the truly funny parts, such as the comment from a teacher regarding Tate and the upcoming fishing trip: "I suggest a tranquilizer gun. For you." There was also the older lady who becomes one of Tate's investors, along with his father, and the things that took place with them. I loved the twist that involved them at the end of the book.