Thursday, July 8, 2010
Title: The Man from Stone Creek
Author: Linda Lael Miller
Publisher: HQN Books
Genre: Historical Romance
Date published: May 29, 2007
Rating: Five crowns
Lawman Sam O'Ballivan heads to Haven, Arizona posing as a schoolteacher so he can help to catch a group of outlaws causing trouble in the area. Running a school full of rough and tumble ranch kids requires a strong hand, and Sam has no problem doing that. What he didn't expect was that one of the students most in need of discipline would lead him to a woman who would change everything.
Maddie Chancelor runs the town general store as a way to provide for herself and her younger brother. She longs to own the store outright, but the wealthy landlord refuses to work with her. When Sam O'Ballivan drags her brother home with a stern reprimand for her as well, Maddie is furious. She can't stand the overbearing new schoolteacher, who seems nothing like what a schoolteacher should be.
Gunslingers, train robbers, fiances dying of outbreaks, secret sons, and shoot outs keep Maddie and Sam busy and on their toes. Still, this doesn't stop their undeniable connection and smoldering passion. As their love grows and they surmount obstacle after obstacle, it becomes clear that they must be together.
The action in this book starts quickly. In the opening pages, Sam O'Ballivan arrives at his teaching post to discover the students tormenting their current teacher. He rescues the man and reprimands the students. This one scene sets the stage for the whole book, starting a chain of events that prove exciting for the duration.
Sam O'Ballivan is a strong character, who, despite his necessary toughness, has a good heart. Maddie Chancelor offers a strong contrast to Sam's rough exterior, with her dedication to her younger brother and her job at the store. They share a sense of obligation to their promised duties, even when their hearts urge them to find a different path.
The minor characters in the book fill out the world of Haven, Arizona Territory so convincingly that it becomes a wholly believable world. Linda Lael Miller also makes the setting in the book take on the life of a character. Arizona Territory actually breathes and moves with the characters.
I have read a lot of Linda Lael Miller books, and this is by far my favorite. The story moves quickly, the love feels real, and the historical context seems right. Unlike many other romance novels, this book departs somewhat from the standard formula. Miller delves richly into the history, which makes the story live in my imagination even now as I write this.
If you love historical romances and are looking for something with a different flavor, I highly recommend this book.
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Royal Reviewer Angela Renee at 10:59 AM