Wednesday, March 9, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: A Creed In Stone Creek by Linda Lael MIller

HQN Books Feb 22 2011

384 pages By Linda Lael Miller


When single attorney Steven Creed becomes guardian of an orphaned five-year-old boy, he trades his big-city law firm for a ranch near his McKettrick kin in the close-knit community of Stone Creek, Arizona. Taking care of little Matt and fixing up his run-down ranch house with its old barn loosens something tightly wound inside him.

But when Steven takes on the pro bono defense of a local teen, he meets his match in the opposing counsel—beautiful, by-the-book county prosecutor Melissa O’Ballivan. It’ll take one grieving little boy, a sweet adopted dog and a woman who never expected to win any man’s heart to make this Creed in Stone Creek know he’s truly found home.


I will admit right up front, I read two out of the three McKettrick books that were released last year, and I was not all that enthralled with them. So my expectations were low coming into this book.

Happily, I was pleasantly surprised. Maybe it is because the hero is a Creed. Now the Montana Creed trilogy from 2009, I enjoyed.

Steven Creed is a new guardian/father of his friend's orphaned son Matt, a precocious 5 year old that talks and acts like he is 10. Steven throws over the big city life and a prominent law firm to move to small town Stone Creek. Not in town 24 hours and Steven locks gazes with Melissa O'Ballivan, the town D.A. Steven will be hanging out his shingle to be the lawyer in town. You just know there is going to be some case arise that will cause these two to face off over a case, like Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn in those old movies.

The attraction between them is instant, although neither will admit to it, even to themselves. But what melted my heart right from the beginning was Steven and his interaction with Matt. He is patient and loving with the boy, and tears up when the child tentatively calls him 'dad'.
Melissa as well, is charmed by Matt. But this reminds her too much of a previous relationship with a man and his young children. She does not want to get hurt here. I am usually not that big on kids/babies in romance novels, but it works here.

Both Steven and Melissa find themselves on the parade committee, and in each others company constantly. They fight the attraction for all of five days, Melissa finds herself going to Steven's for dinner. The attraction between these two was well done I thought.

But what I like about this book and a few others of Linda Lael Miller's, is the homey, real way she portrays her characters, particularly the secondary ones. The conversation in particular seem real to life.There are some colorful characters inhabiting Stone Creek, and I enjoyed them all. The sweet romance between the sheriff Tom Parker and the Diner owner Tess was my favorite subplot. Steven's hunky, sad-eyed cousin Brody also shows up out of the blue. I assume he will be getting his own book.

But this idyllic small town life is rattled when during a dance, a nearby gas station is robbed at gunpoint, and the alleged culprit is a young man fresh out of prison. A young man Melissa prosecuted. Steven steps forward to be his lawyer. Hence the clash of wills.

Melissa has a real commitment problem, I found it hard to totally grasp her reasons for pushing Steven away, to me, he seemed damned near perfect. It takes a life or death situation to rattle both these people, and finally wonder, if love and a future together is possible.

At the end of the book, Brody's identical twin Conner makes an appearance, and the two men face off like 'stags in rutting season.' I love Linda's turn of phrase. The reason for this conflict was not revealed and will no doubt be addressed in June 2011 release, "Creed's Honor".

This was a fine read, with that easy going charm and small town reality Linda seems to thrive at.
Steven Creed really sold this read for me, an old-fashioned man of honor, and that is sexy as all get out.

3.25 out of 4 stars for the book

KOVER KUDOS:  Love that pose on a cowboy, okay, any hunky man. But fits Steven Creed to a tee. Nice background as well.

3.25 out of 4 for the cover

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