McKettrick's Heart

McKettrick's Heart

by Linda Lael Miller
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McKettrick's Heart by Linda Lael Miller

Keegan McKettrick has learned the hard way that women can't be trusted. The only female in his life these days is the young daughter he sees all too rarely, and his sole passion is for his job overseeing his family's corporation. Until beautiful but mysterious Molly Shields comes to Indian Rock on a mission—and keeping a suspicious eye on her becomes Keegan's full-time hobby….

Molly doesn't know why she's attracted to a man who's determined to dig up dirt on her, even if he is gorgeous. But cynical Keegan might be the one person who can truly understand her shadowy past—and if the two can risk opening their hearts, they just might forge a brighter future.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780373776818
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication date: 04/24/2012
Series: McKettrick Men Series
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 144,320
Product dimensions: 4.30(w) x 6.42(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

The daughter of a town marshal, Linda Lael Miller is the author of more than 100 historical and contemporary novels. Now living in Spokane, Washington, the “First Lady of the West” hit a career high when all three of her 2011 Creed Cowboy books debuted at #1 on the New York Times list. In 2007, the Romance Writers of America presented her their Lifetime Achievement Award. She personally funds her Linda Lael Miller Scholarships for Women. Visit her at

Date of Birth:

June 10, 1949

Read an Excerpt

Molly Shields forced herself to pause on the sidewalk in front of the huge brick house, draw a deep breath and let it out slowly. If she hadn't, she would have vaulted over the gate and covered the flagstone walk at a dead run.


Lucas was somewhere inside that enormous place. But so was Psyche. And Psyche Ryan, at least in the eyes of the world, was legally Lucas's mother.

Everything within Molly rebelled against that single fact.

Purposefully Molly adjusted her perspective, along with the canvas backpack she'd carried from the gas station at the far end of Indian Rock, Arizona, after getting off the afternoon bus from Phoenix. Lucas wasn't her child; he was Psyche's.

The little boy was eighteen months old now— eighteen months, two weeks and five days. he'd been a newborn, pink and squalling, when she'd last seen him, held him in her arms—all too briefly—before giving him up. Psyche had sent a few snapshots in the interim— Lucas was solid, handsome and blond, with bright green eyes. Molly's own coloring, though her hair had darkened over time, but despite that, he resembled his late father more than her.

Now, in a very few minutes, maybe even moments, Molly would see the baby she still thought of as her own, at least in weak moments.

Perhaps she'd be allowed to hold Lucas. She ached to do that. To breathe in the scent of his hair and skin."

Careful, her practical side admonished.

It was miracle enough that Psyche, a virtual stranger and, it was to be remembered, a betrayed wife, had summoned Molly to this little town, with its shady streets, given all that had happened. She mustn't move too fast, or make a wrong move—miracles were rare and fragile things, to be handled with infinite care.

Molly worked the latch on the shiny black iron gate. The metal felt hot and smooth to the touch. A discreet little sign, fastened to the ornate fence, proclaimed the place a registered historic site.

Psyche had explained, in one of her e-mails, that the house on the corner of Maple and Red River Drive, her childhood home, had stood empty for nearly a decade. But today the vast lawn looked manicured, lilacs and roses bloomed in freshly mulched beds and the many mullioned windows shone. The white wooden trim looked freshly painted, and the brick, though time worn, was still damp in places from a recent power wash.

Molly forced herself to walk slowly up the walk, toward the front porch, part of which was screened in. No doubt there were patio chairs there, a little table and maybe even a wooden swing.

Molly pictured herself sitting in that swing, rocking Lucas to sleep on a warm summer evening, and her heart beat a little faster.

Psyche's child, she repeated to herself in a silent mantra. Psyche's child.

She had no idea why Psyche had summoned her, or how long she'd be staying. The woman had graciously offered first-class airfare from LAX, with a car and driver to meet her in Phoenix. But Molly, perhaps as a form of penance, had chosen to take the bus instead.

She'd have been wiser not to come at all, of course, but she hadn't been able to resist the chance to see Lucas.

The heavy front door swung open just as Molly reached the bottom step, jolting her out of her travel-weary speculations, and a middle-aged black woman appeared, thin and tall, clad in a crisp white uniform and sensible, crepe-soled shoes.

"You her?, she asked bluntly.

Molly was "her," all right. Lucas's birth mother, the woman who had slept with Psyche's husband. It didn't matter that Molly truly hadn't known he was married until it was too late. That was always the excuse, wasn't it? She was intelligent, with a college education, her own business. Thayer had been a facile liar, but she should have seen the signs.

There were always signs.

Molly swallowed. Nodded in glum acknowledgment. "Well, get yourself on in here," the woman said, fanning herself with one hand. "I can't stand on this porch all day with the door hanging open, you know. Air-conditioning costs money."

Molly hid a rueful smile. Psyche had mentioned her housekeeper several times over the past several weeks— said she was cantankerous, but kind, too. "You must be Florence," Molly said mildly, swallowing an urge to explain that she wasn't a home wrecker.

Florence frowned, spared an unfriendly nod. "Is that backpack all the luggage you brought?"

Molly shook her head. "I have some more stuff at the gas station," she replied. "It was too heavy to carry." Some of her private regrets were like that, too, but she slogged on, mostly because she didn't know what else to do.

Florence, practically bristling with disapproval, gave a sniff and adjusted her glasses. It was no great wonder that she hadn't put out a welcome mat, figurative or otherwise, given the things Psyche must have told her. Most of which, unfortunately, were probably true.

After issuing a harrumph, Florence stepped aside to let Molly pass. "We'll take the station wagon down there later, and fetch it all," Florence said. "Right now, Miss Psyche's upstairs resting, but I've got to keep an eye on her just the same." Behind her thick glasses Florence's chocolate-brown eyes glazed over for a moment, and she gave a sad huff of a sigh. "My poor baby," she added, addressing the shrubbery more than Molly. "It practically wore her out, getting this house opened and moving us in. If it was up to me, we'd have stayed right in Flagstaff, where we belonged, but there's no reasoning with that girl once she takes a notion."

Molly longed to ask about Lucas, but she had to tread carefully, especially around this longtime family retainer. Florence Washington had been Psyche's nanny until Psyche was old enough to go to school, then the family maid. When Psyche married Thayer Ryan, Mrs. Washington had stayed on to run the new household.

Molly felt a sick little flutter way down in the pit of her stomach.

Thayer was dead—he'd suffered a massive coronary a year before, at the age of thirty-seven—and while Molly wouldn't have wished him into an early grave, even after he'd all but ruined her life, she certainly hadn't mourned him, either.

She hadn't gone to the funeral.

She hadn't sent flowers, or even a card.

After all, how would she have signed it? "With sympathy, your late husband's mistress"?

Florence trudged off through an entryway with a grandfather clock and a curving staircase, and then down a long corridor, massive, drape-darkened rooms lining the passage on either side. Molly followed circumspectly, and they finally emerged into a sunlit kitchen with floor-to-ceiling windows forming the back wall and overlooking another enclosed porch. A flower-bright, sprawling yard lay beyond.

Molly finally shrugged out of her backpack and set it down on one of the chairs at the huge antique table in the center of the room.

"You might as well sit," Florence said.

Might as well, Molly thought. She was tired—she'd ridden more than one bus since leaving L.A. two days before—but her first inclination was still to ransack that mansion room by room, flinging open doors until she found Lucas.

She drew back one of the heavy oak chairs and sagged into it.

"Coffee?, Florence asked. "Tea?"

"Water would be good," Molly said.

"Fizzy stuff or regular?"

"Regular, please." Florence brought her a glass of ice and a bottle. While Molly poured, Florence took up an obstinate pose over by the sink, leaning against the counter with her arms folded.

"What are you doing here?, Florence demanded, evidently having withheld the question as long as she could.

Molly, about to take a sip of water, set her glass down again. "I don't know," she answered truthfully. Psyche had contacted her by phone a week before and issued an urgent summons, with very little accompanying explanation.

"We have to talk about this in person," she'd said.

"Seems to me you've done enough damage," Florence told her, " without coming here. Especially now."

Molly swallowed. She was thirty years old, and she ran one of the biggest literary agencies in L.A., dealt with egotistical, high-powered authors, editors and movie people practically every day. Now, sitting in Psyche Ryan's kitchen, clad in the jeans, T-shirt and sneakers she'd been wearing for forty-eight hours straight, she felt diminished, as though she'd regressed to her college days, when she hadn't had the proverbial two nickels to rub together.

"Don't give her a hard time, Florence," a gentle voice interceded softly from somewhere behind Molly's chair. "I asked her to come, and Molly was kind enough to agree."

Both Molly and Florence turned, Molly rising so quickly that she nearly knocked over her chair.

Psyche stood framed in a doorway, a painfully thin woman clad in a peach silk robe and matching slippers. Two aspects of her appearance leaped out at Molly— one, Psyche was beautiful and, two, she was obviously bald beneath the little crocheted cap she wore.

"Will you look in on Lucas, please?, Psyche said to Florence. "He was still asleep a few minutes ago, but he's not used to the house yet, and I'd rather he didn't wake up alone."

Florence hesitated, gave a terse nod, glowered once at Molly and left the kitchen.

"Sit down," Psyche told Molly, gliding gracefully toward her.

Molly, who was used to giving orders, not taking them, immediately complied.

Psyche drew back the chair next to Molly's and sat down with a little sigh and a gingerly wince. "Thank you for coming," she said, offering a hand. "I'm Psyche Ryan."

Molly shook the hand, found it weightless as a wad of tracing paper. "Molly Shields," she replied. Her gaze drifted to Psyche's cap, back to the pair of enormous violet eyes beneath it.

Psyche smiled slightly. "Yes," she said. "I have cancer." A chasm opened in the bottom of Molly's heart. "I'm sorry," she said. About so much more than the cancer. "Is it—?"

"Terminal," Psyche confirmed with a nod.

Tears of sympathy stung behind Molly's eyes, but she didn't allow herself to shed them. She didn't know Psyche well enough for that.

Inevitably her mind fastened on Lucas.

Dear God, if Psyche was dying, what would happen to him? Having lost her own mother when she was fifteen, Molly knew the emptiness and constant under-current of fruitless searching that could result.

Psyche seemed to be tracking Molly's unspoken thoughts—at least, some of them. She smiled again, reached across the tabletop to squeeze Molly's hand. "As you know," she said, " my husband is dead. Neither of us have any family. Since you're Lucas's biological mother, I hope."

Molly's heart leaped over the logical next conclusion, but she reined it in, back over the jump, afraid to risk the shattering disappointment that would follow if she was wrong.

"I've hoped you'll care for him after I'm gone,"

Psyche said. "Be his mother, not just on some paper in some file—but for real."

Molly opened her mouth, closed it again, too shaken to trust her voice.

Psyche drew back a little, huddling in her exquisite peach robe, studying Molly with a worried expression. "Maybe I presumed too much, sending for you the way I did," she said, very softly. "If you'd wanted to raise Lucas, you wouldn't have given him up."

Desperation, sorrow and hope swelled within Molly, a tangle of emotions she'd probably never be able to separate. "Of course I want him," she blurted, lest Psyche reconsider and withdraw the offer.

Psyche looked relieved—and exhausted. "There are a few strings attached," she warned quietly.

Molly's heart scrambled up into the back of her throat. She waited, still terrified of tipping the balance the wrong way.

"Lucas must be raised in or around Indian Rock," Psyche said. "Preferably in this house. I grew up here, and I want my son to do the same."

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McKettrick's Heart 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 64 reviews.
tupperlake53 More than 1 year ago
Didnt put it down.Had smiles n tears n it was hot too.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Shame on the book world for releasing old books as ifthey were new.anything for a buck.
jt1216 More than 1 year ago
Just like all her books, this book was wonderful and a good read!!
harstan More than 1 year ago
Following a deep betrayal and subsequent nasty divorce, Keegan McKettrick vows no more permanent relationships with women. To accomplish his goal he buries himself in the family firm.---------------- Two years ago Molly Shields swore that there will be no men in her life after she gave birth to a child with a man she did not know was married. Reluctantly the Los Angeles based literary agent for the sake of the infant gave up all rights so that the child could be raised by two parents. However, the louse Thayer Ryan who impregnated her is dead and now his widow Psyche is dying from cancer and wants to see her. Psyche asks Molly to raise the toddler, but with the stipulation that she relocates to Indian Rock, Arizona where Keegan will share the parenting chores. He does not trust her because she is a woman, because she gave up her baby, because she was the other woman, and finally because he wants her too much. She thinks he is an obstinate dope who she wants too much.-------------- The final book in Linda Lael Miller¿s superb modern day McKettrick Cowboy romances (see MCKETTRICK'S PRIDE and MCKETTRICK'S LUCK) is an excellent tale of love between two distrusting souls who feels that emotion only leads to trouble and heartache. Their ¿family¿ beta test is hot and hilarious especially when the rest of the horde invades their relationship. Contemporary fans will appreciate this delightful tale that showcases Ms. Miller¿s abilities as she completes her bringing her nineteenth century McKettrick family romances into the 2007 descendents with a winner.-------------- Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Better than your averae romancer!!
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LollyinMN More than 1 year ago
Loved it!
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HarleyBarbie01 More than 1 year ago
This book is in keeping with the rest of the McKettrick series books. Great story, great reading! Loved it!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you are a fan of cowboys and real men, you will surely enjoy the McKettrick's stories. Each one is defined by their titles and are great representatives of the genre.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you have not read any of the books in her series your missing a great deal. All of these books starting way back in the early times till now in the present will have you wondering about the next family member. There is so much history and good reading you actually feel part of the books and family. I have 2 more to read in the present time and then I am going to go back and read the last of the earlier ones. I just wish I had a list of all her books in order.
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dsaraceni More than 1 year ago
Loved the story and most of all love all Linda's books.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It has been a long time since I read a book I couldn't put down - I couldn't put this book down. Great read!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My favorite book . I ve read it adozen times, and could stilly read it again .love sometimes.really does conquer all. This book cotains many emotions,and twists and turns that will leave u yearning to flip to the end of the book,but you wont
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