It’s raining men for a spunky lawyer-turned-detective in Volume 3 of the MisAdventures of Miss Lilly series.
Months after Lilly Katherine Atkins dusted off her boots and returned home to Brooks, Oklahoma, her cheating ex-fiance, Van Peyton Ehlers, is back in town and up to no good; her high school sweetheart, Cash Stetson, is out of rehab and working at her family’s ranch; and Spencer Locke, the former FBI agent who toils at her mentor’s law firm, won’t stop trying to rescue her. When cattle rustlers strike her family’s ranch, the three men in her life distract her as she tries to round up the culprits with the help of a gaggle of girlfriends. “I’m a terrible rancher’s daughter,” Lilly muses. “I love all the animals like pets. Yes, I eat meat…but it’s hard not to have” a certain fondness “for heifers that will follow you around like dogs.” The drawls are thick and the hair is high, but the characters in this installment are more introspective than cartoonish. Confronted with so many men at once, Lilly has an identity crisis, and many bad hair days and wardrobe choices ensue. Her soul-searching takes on a lightly religious tone—more so than in the previous books by Lloyd (Mo(u)rning Joy, 2015, etc.)—as she turns to her Christian faith for solace. Her family and friends, notably Fae Lynn, who’s now pregnant, also provide the type of homespun wisdom that makes small-town stories so appealing. Long talks over homemade cookies or store-bought cakes that will “do in a pinch” add vivid sensory details, as do the quiet moments when Lilly’s Poppa gives her a reassuring pat on the hand. Meanwhile, a rumored sex tape raises the stakes for Lilly to get Van out of her life for good. Aside from her overuse of the word “allegedly,” the straight-shooting heroine is a good foil for the smarmy lawyer. Cash, who had a certain appeal in the previous novels, now seems like a bad habit that Lilly needs to kick. And Spencer’s levelheaded approach to Lilly’s nonstop drama really starts to work for him. Although Lilly’s sleuthing takes a back seat to her many failed relationships, the final showdown with the cattle rustlers adds excitement to an otherwise emotion-heavy plot.
Charming and heartfelt, this complicated love story delivers a well-developed journey of self-discovery and romance.