Hallelujah, I made it through. One of my notes said, “This book is populated with idiots,” and normally I’d leave it there, but I think our readers would like more. So this book kicks off the new Medicine River series, and Montana Actually is a mixed bag of romance and family drama. The family drama was done well. I wish I could say as much for the romance.
When Bear Paw, Montana needs a doctor, Chicagoan Josh Stanton answers the call in order to make and save money to pay down his student loans. He has been used to the fast pace of being an Emergency Room physician in a big city hospital, so he experiences culture shock upon arriving in a town where nothing much happens and everyone is acquainted with everyone else. Josh isn’t sure what to make of the town and vice versa.
He rents a house from Katrina McKade, who is, unbeknownst to him, also a nurse at the clinic in which he is employed. They butt heads over the house, then clash at work, though their attraction is undeniable. Both have baggage from their respective pasts that they must overcome, as what begins as a frenemies-with-benefits relationship evolves.
Josh is such a stick in the mud that it was hard for me to imagine him as hero material. Katrina isn’t much better, though slightly more likeable. They go from fighting to making up and back to fighting within the space of a few paragraphs. I thought I might get whiplash from their mood swings. There is nothing fun, romantic, or even sexy about their relationship.
I was far more invested in the secondary romance between single mom Shannon and Katrina’s brother Beau. He’s a shy cowboy who stutters and consequently lacks self-confidence. His courtship of her is far more pleasant than that of Josh and Katrina. Shannon treats him with concern and respect for the most part. At least, until she goes off the deep end near the conclusion and is awful to him. Unfortunately, that spoiled their relationship for me.
There is a subplot involving Katrina’s mother battling an illness. Though Josh has tried to keep an emotional distance, he is supportive of Katrina and her family during this difficult time. The portrayal of her illness and treatment was sensitive and well done. Josh’s complicated relationship with his father is explored also. I appreciated that they finally reached an accord without everything being tied up into a neat package. The hesitant truce they reach made the storyline feel more authentic to me.
While there were elements to the story I liked and appreciated and the writing was fine, the numerous ridiculous arguments between the main characters exhausted me. If you’re a fan of old school I-love-you-I-hate-you romances, you may be able to overlook this. For me, it was enough to put me off continuing with the series.