The Montana Bound series by Linda Bradley are all some of January Top Reads for Uncaged. To read an interview with Linda, and excerpts from all three books, please see Issue 6, January 2017 HERE
Book One – Montana Bound Series
Middle-aged, Maggie Abernathy just wants to recuperate from cancer during the solitude of summer vacation after a tiresome year of teaching second grade.
Maggie’s plans are foiled when precocious seven-year-old Chloe McIntyre moves in next door with her dad, John. Maggie’s life changes in a way she could never imagine when the pesky new neighbors steal her heart. With Maggie’s grown son away, her ex-husband in the shadows, her meddling mother’s unannounced visits, and Chloe McIntyre on her heels, somehow Maggie’s empty house becomes home again.
Uncaged Review: What makes a good story better? The cast of characters who you can identify with and understand, and when they can make you feel, you’ve got not just a good story, but a great story. The characters in this story did that for me, but it wasn’t all sunshine and roses for me at first. Maggie is newly divorced, after finding out her husband is gay, and had known about it but wanted to make sure that he stayed with the marriage until their son was grown. Maggie never had a clue. On top of that, Maggie is diagnosed with breast cancer, and this gives you the setting for all the emotional turmoil she’s in, and how it’s justified.
For me personally, I didn’t really connect with Maggie until halfway through the book. Even though I can empathize with her situation, I was not a happy with her treatment of her mother, or of a seven year old new neighbor girl. She wasn’t mean, but she was a bit standoffish and selfish (more so than I thought would have been called for-even under the circumstances) and she said hurtful things that even with her own emotional issues, I still didn’t connect with. But trust me, it gets better.
The character that I really loved was Chloe, the little neighbor girl, who is pesky and sneaky and says whatever she’s thinking, and someone that Maggie just can’t seem to get away from. And good thing too. Between her mom getting her a dog for company, and Chloe popping up in the flowerbed at any given time, her wonderful mother and Chloe’s very handsome father John, they all manage to pull Maggie up and turn her around into the strong, outspoken woman we all knew she could be. When Chloe’s Hollywood mother comes to town and decides to take Chloe back to Hollywood with her, Maggie finally learns how much she cares about Chloe and John, and how they both carry the emotional baggage that Chloe’s mom leaves in her wake. And, I finally liked Maggie, more and more as she grew and discovered herself.
This sets the stage for the next book very well, and even though this is not an action packed book, it is a character driven story, there isn’t anything slow about the book. It’s a very memorable story that will stay with me for a while. Reviewed by Cyrene
4 1/2 Stars
Maggie’s Fork in the Road
Book Two – Montana Bound Series
Maggie Abernathy learns that pesky neighbors John and Chloe McIntyre are moving to Montana. The only problem is…she can’t fathom living without them now that they’ve stolen her heart. While trying to digest the news and accept John’s decision to leave Michigan, Maggie ventures to Chicago with Chloe to see Chloe’s Hollywood mother in a photo shoot, where the three kindle a quirky bond making it even harder for Maggie to say goodbye. With the support of Maggie’s meddling mother, her best friend Judy, and a surprise visit from Montana rancher Winston Ludlow McIntyre, Maggie begins to wonder which fork in the road leads home.
Uncaged Review: This sequel picks up after Maggie’s Way, and our cast has returned, and I had no issues connecting with Maggie this go around. We are also introduced to a few new ones that squeeze into Maggie’s unconventional group. In this story, John and Chloe are leaving, selling the house at the end of the school year, and moving back to Montana, to John’s father’s ranch, to help out. John has never wanted to live in the city, but he’s torn, between going home to help his father and being in the country he loves, or leaving Maggie behind. Maggie herself is in turmoil, not wanting to lose either of them but afraid of going with them too. Maggie is a bit of a mess most of the time, trying to figure out where she belongs and afraid of new beginnings.
The story is heartwarming and you will be drawn into this story like you are sitting at the kitchen island watching the scenes unfold with them. Chloe is still an amazing kid that has you wrapped around her finger within a few pages. I was on Maggie’s mother’s side, trying to shake some sense into Maggie at times since she’s so afraid to try out her new wings. The book remains character driven, with a lot of characters you can’t help but fall for yourself. I would definitely recommend reading this series in order so you don’t miss out, they can be read separately, but the better experience is reading them in order. Reviewed by Cyrene
Book Three – Montana Bound Series
Maggie Abernathy, best friend Judy, and Judy’s two young sons travel cross country to visit John McIntyre and daughter Chloe at their Montana ranch. Maggie’s convinced herself that she’s only making the trip to fulfill her promise to visit Chloe, but once there she can’t help but fall in love with the horses, the land, the ranch, and the Montana ways of life. With Chloe’s loving antics, Winston’s gift, and a handful of wranglers showing her the ropes, will Maggie have the heart to say goodbye?
Uncaged Review: For the third installment of this trilogy, Maggie finally gets to Montana for her summer vacation. Along for the fun is her friend Judy and her two boys, who give us a lot of “smile moments.” But what I really saw in this book, is how broken that Maggie really is. She’s stubborn and fighting all the wrong battles within herself, and I think that part is a bit overdone. I’m not sure I actually believe that a person would be that hard on themselves from a divorce these days, and so afraid to take a new step, at least not as long as it took Maggie. But in another way, she also finds herself in Montana, I just wish she would have gotten there a bit faster. But it’s a good feeling when she finally does get there. Maggie finally allows her true inner self the freedom to shine.
This trilogy is highly recommended to romance lovers. To get the best impact of the books, start at the first one and you will find it’s a great weekend escape. Reviewed by Cyrene
4 1/2 Stars