I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Penguin on January 6th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, Medical, Romance, Western
A big-city doctor in a small-town Montana practice....A former nurse who has sworn off doctors forever....The scene is set for passions to ignite in Big Sky Country. For readers of Robyn Carr and Sherryl Woods. City doctor Josh Stanton and his sports car don’t suit the country, but with his medical school debt about to bury him, Josh has to make the best out of a bad situation. Adjusting to his new job and life in the middle of nowhere isn’t easy, but at least the views of the mountains—and one distractingly attractive local—are stunning...After eight years away, Katrina McCade is back in Bear Paw for a break from her life, bad choices—and men. But when a broad-shouldered stranger bursts into town, she finds herself unexpectedly saddled with the town’s sexy new doctor as a tenant. Katrina doesn’t need a man to make her happy, especially a disgruntled physician. But try telling her body that…"This is a funny, sexy, and heart-warming novel that I feel is a must-read and a keeper. It made me laugh. I loved each character, and wish I could visit Bear Paw."Catherine Anderson, New York Times bestselling author of Silver Thaw"Delightful." --Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Fiona Lowe’s MONTANA ACTUALLY is the first book in her new Medicine River romance series, and while there were some elements of this book that I quite enjoyed, there were others that made it a difficult read for me overall.
The primary romantic couple in MONTANA ACTUALLY have both just arrived in the tiny Montana town of Bear Paw despite their best intentions. Dr. Josh Stanton is in town to work off his sizable student loan debt after having to fund his own medical school education when he refused to be the type of doctor his wealthy father had always expected. Katrina McCade, an experienced ER nurse, had grown up in Bear Paw but left for the big city to chase her dreams of success and love. Now after a devastating romantic betrayal, she’s back to regroup and decide what to do with the rest of her life. When Josh becomes Katrina’s unwilling tenant, the immediate sparks between them inevitably lead to an affair that they both agree shouldn’t require any ongoing commitment. But when tragedy strikes Katrina’s family, she and Josh will need more than sexual desire to heal the wounds they both carry in their hearts as they learn to trust and love each other in a tiny Montana town that needs them both.
While Josh and Katrina were an interesting couple to watch as they fell in love, I actually enjoyed the secondary romance between Beau and Shannon much more, perhaps because they were both so hesitant to believe they were worthy of the other’s attention, and so were more careful and more easily hurt by their own mistaken assumptions of the other. The layout of the town and its citizens was set up fairly well to introduce the series, although I’m still confused as to how an ER can exist independently of the only medical clinic in town when it’s constantly asserted that there aren’t enough trained people to fully staff both.
Ultimately there were two elements of MONTANA ACTUALLY that made it less enjoyable than I had anticipated. One was the decision to have a secondary character intrinsic to the lives of the core family for this new series fall ill with what initially seemed to be nothing big but eventually became terminal. Others may disagree, but for me it came across as an emotional shortcut required to bring both the primary and secondary romantic couples together more quickly than they might have under less traumatic circumstances.
The other element I found frustrating in this book involves one of my major pet peeves in any romance where sex is presented: inconsistent condom use. The first time Josh and Katrina decide to have sex, there is much discussion, both humorous and serious, about safer sex and making sure that they use a condom. This was a great scene and I was so happy it was included. And then there was never even a brief mention of condoms ever again! It’s always annoying and distracting for me when romance couples do and then don’t use condoms, but when one is a doctor and the other is a nurse? Add to that the periodic assertions by each about how much they want children in the future, and I was nearly convinced that there would be a surprise pregnancy by the end of the book. (Spoiler alert: There isn’t.)
Between the emotional manipulation and the condoms gone missing which took me out of the story, I was just not as happy with MONTANA ACTUALLY as I wanted to be. I do think there’s a good base here from which a successful series can continue, and I’m not sorry I read it. But I’m hoping that future books in the Medicine River series are more like Fiona Lowe’s BOOMERANG BRIDE, a book I adored, than this one.