REVIEW: My Montana Valentine (The Millers of Marietta Book 1) by Elsa Winckler
He doesn’t believe in happy endings…
Saddled with the impossible task of finding a feel-good story, journalist Aiden O’Sullivan reluctantly accepts his godmother’s invitation to visit Marietta, Montana, to experience the small town’s Valentine’s Day celebration. Upon his arrival, a minor ankle injury lands him in the ER of the local hospital when his godmother insists a doctor should examine it.
After her parents’ untimely deaths, Dr. Vivian Miller moved from Sacramento to Marietta with her siblings. Apart from the freezing cold and rampant gossiping, life in town is uneventful. Until a music teacher at the local high school brings her godson to the ER. Vivian has a soft spot for children and hurries to help, only to find the “godson” is an opinionated, rude journalist with no visible injury to his foot.
Vivian has no time for journalists, even the drop-dead gorgeous kind. Aiden isn’t in town for long, but he quickly becomes involved in the lovely doctor’s problems, something he’s sworn will never happen again. Will these two strangers end up finding a home together at the foot of Copper Mountain?
Dear Ms. Winckler,
What I thought I’d get after reading the blurb is not what I started to get before I pulled the plug on this novel. The blurb seems cute and fun but the story starts out with anger and some bizarre actions and reactions from the characters. The prologue sets up the fact that this will be a trilogy. The three Miller siblings are faced with selling their childhood home after the death of their parents (not detailed but it was apparently traumatic). Impulsively they decide to move to a place based on one great vacation near there decades ago. Anne has always wanted to run a B&B and after she was jilted before her wedding – something we are frequently reminded of – she has decided she will never marry. After a minutes long internet search, she finds a house for sale in Marietta. Sister Vivian the doctor knows she can find something medical there to do – no, I was never sure exactly what her medical specialty actually is but she ends up in the ER. Brother Mitch is sick of being a financial specialist and plans on teaching while writing his Great American Novel.
Flash forward a year and Aiden arrives in Marietta to see his (matchmaking) aunt who did not tell him about the Valentine celebration or dance and who seems dead set on matchmaking him with Vivian. Note – neither of them are interested in being set up and both are annoyed. But that comes after my first annoyance when Aiden is strong-armed by his aunt into going to the ER and Vivian, who mistakenly thinks he’s a small child, gets pissed when she discovers he isn’t. It’s not pissed because she’s been pulled from saving someone’s life, it’s pissed because she thinks he’s spoiled and wasting her time. Does she let him explain as he attempts, more than once, to do? Nope, she tosses out orders for the nurse and storms off. No, Vivian, you’re a doctor and he’s a patient. You stuff your annoyance down and do your damn job. She does feel guilty and does a house call later but then gets lost in a mental fog of lust due to Aiden’s shirtlessness.
It is soon clear that Aiden’s aunt is matchmaking though she clumsily tries to deny it. Aiden is also intrigued with Vivian. Meanwhile Anne is attempting to pry details from Vivian about her house call and sniffs a romance. She and the aunt are soon in cahoots and forcing encounters all over the place regardless of how annoyed it makes Vivian or Aiden. And it definitely annoys them but Anne and Aunt just cheerfully push harder in the face of Vivian’s stated request to stop. Journalist Aiden senses Vivian has something in her past that makes her dislike journalists – something that Anne corroborates even after Vivian has made it clear she doesn’t want it discussed. So of course Aiden goes internet snooping and then tells Vivian he’s done this.
Okay, now I’m pissed at just about everybody in the book and I’m only a third of the way through.
To top all this off, the writing is clunky. The world of Marietta, Montana was established many books and book series ago and I’ve read a lot of them so I know a bit about the town and people there. If you haven’t read any, then the long paragraphs of exposition might be useful even if they come off sounding like a Chamber of Commerce brochure. And they do. But there were one or two other things as well. Remember brother Mitch who is going to write a novel? For a year Mitch, Vivian, and Anne have all been living in the house which is being renovated for Anne to open it as a B&B. Yet there is a conversation in which the sisters ask Mitch what kind of novel he’s planning to write. Have they not asked or has he not mentioned in the year that they’ve been there what he’s writing about?? And this wasn’t the only “As you know, Bob” or awkwardly written exposition scene.
I stopped and then forced myself to restart this book three times but I just can’t. I’m not enjoying anything about it and will not finish it.