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on March 15, 2011
I have two things to say before I explain why I thought this book was bad. First, I like series--I like to get to know my characters before they have their own book, I like that I get to see what happens to my characters after their book and one of the strong things about Linda Lael Miller is that she uses a lot of the same characters due to her McKettrick series. I also love Linda Lael Miller in particular, mostly because I like westerns and I can always count on her to write them.

What went wrong with this book is what usually goes wrong with series. A good romance series is connected but books should stand alone and this didn't happen. Melissa O'Ballivan didn't work as a character because I feel like I was obligated to read her siblings' books to understand her. I also have a very big problem with her occupation -- Miller writes Melissa as Maricopa County prosecutor, who has very little to do at all the entire day. That doesn't work for me and Miller should know better. It's her misfortune that I was watching an episode of Cold Case Files the day after reading this book and saw Maricopa County's District Attorney's office interviewed and saw that were many people involved in the office and that Scottsdale and Phoenix are part of the county. It's population is over 3 million. It's office wouldn't be in Stone Creek, AZ and Melissa would have more to do. If it's just a satellite office and she's one of many attorneys, fine. But that's not Miller's Melissa O'Ballivan is written.

So the heroine is weakly written and kind of just walks through the book. The hero is even worse. There's too much about his cute adopted son, his cute adopted dog, and his complicated family. He doesn't like strong female lawyers because of a past relationship. And what's all I know about Steven Creed. Oh, and he's sexy.

I never saw relationship that was more than physical in nature. I never saw why Melissa would decide to marry Steven over a past relationship. I didn't understand why Miller wrote a conflict between the two with Melissa as prosecutor and Steven as a defense attorney, and rather than have them work it out, Melissa decides she'll change her job after her term is over. That's not much of a strong female character.

The ending is rushed, as if Miller realized she had about two chapters to get these two together and instead of fixing the conflict, she just eliminates it. I didn't really get that Melissa was all that disatisfied with her job, so her decision to change it based on a guy she doesn't know that well isn't satisfying.

I love Linda Lael Miller, but the only thing this book did was set up books for Steven's family and tie up the last unmarried O'Ballivan. The only aspect I enjoyed was the subplot of Byron Cahill's redemption, but even that was relegated to the background and not well dealt with.

It's such a disappointment to me and I know Miller can be better than this.
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on February 22, 2011
When you discover an author who talks to you through their writing, it is an exciting moment. Then when that author delivers one great series after another and connects them by beginning another series, well that is even more exciting.

Linda Lael Miller is truly the Queen of contemporary westerns and delivers the beginning of another of her wonderful, heartwarming series bringing together the McKettricks, the Creeds, the O'Ballivans and Stone Creek.

Prosecutor Melissa O'Ballivan and Defense Attorney Steven Creed meet when Steven brings his newly adopted godson to Stone Creek to begin a new life. Surrounded by relatives galore, the inevitable occurs when they meet and have instant attraction and sizzle. Dealing with locals, parades and opposing sides of a case bring out the best and worst of each of them, but will they overcome their personal issues and learn to love?

Steven and Melissa are very contemporary but have the same issues and dynamics of their predecessors in Miller's historical pieces of their family tree. Love and relationships don't change, the only thing that changes are the circumstances and hem length.

I do so love the dialogue and banter between her characters. It is so natural, free flowing and emotional without being silly, syrupy or underwhelming.

The author brings to life the many different personalities who are entertaining and versatile while meeting Steven's twin cousins set up the rest of the series perfectly...introductions without too much information.

Sit back and enjoy the newest members of Linda Lael Millers series library. They welcome you into their lives with every turn of the page.

Originally posted at The Long and Short of It Romance Reviews
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on February 28, 2011
I was so disappointed in this book. I am huge fan of LLM but this one fell flat and well, boring. There was virtually no chemistry between the two main characters. I guess we were supposed to read between the lines and understand "the connection" they felt. Too many pages devoted to Melissa and Tom and Steven and Matt and the two women arguing about toilet paper. I love western romances and reading about a cowboy but Steven seemed to tear up at the drop of a hat. My picture of a cowboy is a Sam Elliott type. I want my heroes to be a little more rugged. Also, it seems that LLM is falling into a rut with these series books. I have enjoyed them but they all follow a pattern. I hope LLM doesn't fall into the Diana Palmer style of writing where the theme of her books are so repetitious. I so hope that the next book in the series is better.
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on February 26, 2011
I have read Ms. Millers book's for years and keep hoping she will return to the quality writing of her earlier work. Her "Mojo" books and "Claire Westbrook" books were excellent. Her last few books (Romances?) were silly and a few phrases were repeated so often I almost stopped reading. Steven repeatedly ran his hands through his hair or ruffled little Matt's hair, the whole book just became over the top with car seats and teenage type romance. Could it be because she is now published by HQN? If you have not read Ms. Miller, you should read her earlier work.
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on March 28, 2011
My Thoughts: I'm not an expert when it comes to Western romances, so far I have only read about half a dozen of this genre, but I enjoyed those a lot, so I was looking forward to A Creed in Stone Creek, especially given its single-dad-raising-an-orphaned-little-boy premise and that as a junior lawyer I like reading novels where the hero and heroines are law practioners. Unfortunately A Creed in Stone Creek left me lukewarm.

A Creed in Stone Creek takes place in nowadays' Arizona, but it feels dated, as if the reader is back in the '50s and that made me lose my grip on the story and its reality a couple of times.

Though there is a blatant black and white categorization: happy women living in Stone Creek are married, pregnant, great cooks and happy housewives, it wasn't even this that I took offense with. It was the fact that Linda Lael Miller tries hard to portray Melissa, our heroine as feminist and independent, but it rings hollow as Melissa is like a Stepford housewife from the '50s in mentality (except for the cooking) (which don't get me wrong I don't have a problem with, if it isn't stated every chapter how modern and independent she is). Melissa, after completing years of law studies, exams and having worked hard to be a prosecutor is having some sort of crisis not being happy with her work and personal life. I can understand her needing a change from law but at the end of the novel she takes a 180° turn and it's as if she becomes just one of the many streotypical small town women, shedding her personality and individuality.

Though I like my heroine and hero to discover each other and for their affection and love to grow gradually and develop realistically, I can understand that sometimes love can be more instinctive and overwhelming. However the romance between Steven and Melissa was completely unrealistic: two intelligent grown up people always experiencing the Earth moving, tilting on its axis every time the other is around? The very first time they glimpse each other only the lightning is missing, because it sure is described as if they have been struck with such a powerful attraction and blossoming love (without knowing anything about the other..).

Her smile nearly knocked Steven over. [...] Holy crap. Steven thought, because the ground shook under his feet and the sky tilted at such a strange angle that his equilibrum was skewed.

Their romance was instantenous and unfounded, and the hot and cold hesitation of Melissa felt very naive and immature. One minute she is:

Steven Creed. The man was a sin sundae, and she was so tempted to dig in.

Then the next she is acting all timid and virginal. I couldn't really know what to do of her hot and cold behaviour, which didn't fit the bill of her pantsuit, independent persona which was projected.

The love conflict/difficulties between the hero/heroine were forced and artificial; and Melissa despite being a mature 30 year old adult threw such irrational, stubborn hissy fits that Steven wasn't the only one not understanding what the hell was up.

The highlight of the novel were definitely the scenes about Steven's parenting and Matt's cute one liners:

"Is she anybody's mommy?" Matt wanted to know.
Steven swallowed. Just when he thought he has a handle on the single-dad thing, the kid would throw him a curve. "I don't know, Tex," he answered. "Why do you ask?"
"I like her," Matt said. Simple as that. I like her. "I like the way she smiles, and the way she smells."
Me too, Steven thought. "She seems nice enough."
"So if she's not already somebody's mommy, she might want to be mine," Matt speculated.
Steven's eyes burned. How was he supposed to answer that one?
"And she's going to make a parade," Matt enthused.

"I want Dad to marry Melissa," Matt said with so much enthusiasm that more people than just his grandparents heard the statement and turned to grin as they registered it. "But I'm not getting anywhere with it."

Matt mumbled something as Steven set him in the car seat and began buckling him in but, true to form, he didn't wake up.
"He's terrific," she said softly.
"I agree," Steven told her, after Matt was secured. They stood facing each other now, on that darkened sidewalk. "Of course it would be a real plus if he'd stop proposing to women."

My other main problem despite the romance lacking credibility and gradual progress was that although A Creed in Stone Creek is the first book in Linda Lael Miller's new Creed Cowboys contemporary western romance trilogy, it is too interwoven with her previous novels. I had a hard time reading and following the plot as a standalone. This I bet is something longtime fans might enjoy, but as a newbie Linda Lael Miller reader I was lost with the constant name dropping of dozens of secondary characters who were mostly just props in this story. Those who have read Linda Lael Miller's previous novels might have been familiar characters, but I just felt like the new kid at school exluded from the happenings because the characters just kept to themselves and closed their ranks.

Besides my feeling left out I also felt confused a couple of times when some characters were first mentioned this way, then a couple of sentences later differently, see for yourself:

"Looks like Tanner and Olivia are here," Tessa said, with obvious relief.
Melissa had gotten out of Steven's rig to speak to them. The two women were embracing, while Tanner took the stairs two at a time.
Steven nodded to him and stepped back and Quinn pulled Tessa in for a quick brotherly hug.

It took me two re-reads to realize that Quinn and Tanner were the very same person since there was noone else on the porch besides Tessa and Steven... But don't ask me why he has two names, it is never mentioned in the novel whether one of them is his surname or what.

Despite dozens of supporting characters being mentioned I seriously missed being introduced in more details to a few secondary characters, they seemed to act merely as props, which knowing that they had their own novel in the past I can understand, but greatly affected my enjoyment of the novel, since (again) as a new reader I couldn't place these characters.

There is a suspense subplot which in my opinion was completely unnecessary to the story.

All in all A Creed in Stone Creek is not a novel I will re-read, but it might be enjoyed more by those who have read Linda Lael Miller's previous series and know already some of the characters.
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on March 7, 2013
I suppose in many ways, this book is a pretty typical romance plot. Man and woman face off against each other but somehow fall in love despite their individual protestations. The certainly sums up the plot of this book. But, there was much more to it. The male protagonist, Steven Creed, is a new father, to a five year old. He's also new to town and new to owning and running his own ranch and new to small town defense lawyering. Our female protagonist, Melissa O'Ballivan, is an upstanding citizen of Stone Creek, Arizona where she serves as an inflexible but fair county prosecutor. Sparks fly the first time they cross paths, but the fire really flares when they go head to head on a case.

At first I wasn't so excited by the book. I think conflicting "series" information on this book was somewhat to blame - different sites say this is part of one series where others say it is the start of its own. Yes, Steven is a Creed, but we hadn't really met him in the previous "Montana Creed" books and there was only one or two brief mentions of the Montana contingent of Creeds and lots of Colorado Creeds in this book that I hadn't ever heard of. Yet the names of all of Melissa's family were familiar to me from the couple "Stone Creek" books I've read in the past. I was expecting this to have a bit more of the Montana characters present so I was a bit disappointed when they weren't a part of the book. Eventually the characters of this book won me over and kept me reading. Ultimately I found a lot of enjoyment in the reading of A Creed in Stone Creek.

I'm curious where the next book in the series will go and which characters will be in it. But since I have yet to be disappointed in Linda Lael Miller's books I will continue on with the series. I am, however, debating if I should fill in the rest of the Stone Creek books I haven't yet read though before carrying on?
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on March 24, 2011
I'm a huge fan of LLM, however, if this were my first read by this author it would probably be my last. I didn't find the characters believable. Matt was too precocious, Steven excessively sensitive and frequently choking up or becoming teary over the least little things. Melissa didn't seem to have much going for her other than her good looks. I forced myself to keep reading expecting something intriguing or some interesting conflict to be just around the corner....unfortunately that was not the case. Dull , disjointed plot and flat from beginning to end.
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Ugh, what can I even say about this book? I didn't fully hate it, but I really really didn't like this book. Since this is the second book of Miller's that I've read, and I've disliked them both, I think this genre is really just not for me. So where do I start with the things I disliked?

1. Why does seemingly every single person have to have endured so much tragic loss of life or abandonment? I can accept the reasoning behind Steven adopting Matt, but nearly every adult in this book has some sort of serious death in their past, or a family member who up and ran off. That totally sucks, don't get me wrong, but it's annoying to read it over and over with every new character.

2. Despite all that tragedy, I didn't find myself crying once when reading any of this. And I would have liked to feel something when faced with all that horrible stuff.

3. Melissa O'Ballivan, rather than being a charming leading lady, just annoyed me. She seems to be a lawyer just so she can get "the bad guy", and kind of disregards the whole equal rights to a trial/lawyer thing. I mean, even if someone is caught red handed, they still deserve a fair shake in the eyes of the law! And what is with being willing to not have anything to do with someone just because they have a different viewpoint from her? Blah!

4. Matt is supposed to be 5, but he talks like an adult, or at the very least a teenager. I know that five year olds can talk, but I found myself thinking, "Seriously?! Kids don't talk like that!" It annoyed me to no end. You want a kid that talks like a teenager? Make the kid a teenager. There's nothing appealing about a youngster who acts a decade beyond their age, unless we get some kind of explanation like the kid is Doogie Houser Part 2, which this kid was not.

5. Since this is a romance novel, I would have expected some romance. Instead, Melissa and Steven see each other and both of them are instantly undressing each other with their eyes. I didn't feel any warming up to attraction, and the whole thing felt forced. I like to be able to fall in love with the male lead along with the heroine, and I just didn't do this. Maybe it's because Melissa was so irritating to me, I'm not sure. Steven seems attractive, but adopting a kid and doing pro bono law work isn't all it takes to get me all buttered up. I could be too jaded, but I really would have liked a little more coercing to get me to the point that I understand why these two are interested in each other.

Aside from those things, I felt like the plot was entirely too predictable. It could be that I read too many mystery romancey kinds of books, but I would have liked to wonder, even just for a little while, if these two were going to get together. Instead, we have what feels to me like fabricated fights and people who don't even explore each other before deciding to dive headfirst into their relationship. It's just a little boring, and on the whole, not what I was hoping for.
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on February 7, 2015
Sexy cowboy, nd adorable 6 year old, and a feisty attorney. This book has it all. It held my interest from start to finish! It had just enough conflict to keep me interested yet at the same time really had e rooting for them.
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on July 6, 2011
Ever heard them say in English class or a creative writing class, show don't tell? Well all I got out of the first few pages of this book was Ms Miller telling me WAY too much information - background information that I don't think I really need to know at all in the first chapter of a book, whether it be a series featuring some of the people featured in the background information or not.

This book reads like a first published book, or one where the author simply phoned it in.

Seriously, do not buy this book, go to your public library and borrow it and then come back here and thank me for saving you the money.

Linda Lael Miller has written some great books which begs the question, what the heck went wrong with this one? I honestly wondered if she even wrote it, or if someone ghost wrote it and they put her name on it because I couldn't believe this was written by her.

Apparently the other books in the series get better, but I think I will borrow those too from the library now myself.

Ms Miller, or anyone connected to her, please tell her re-read the book herself - the writing and word usage and over-description is bad enough, the plot is average at best and honestly, the protagonists don't have much chemistry at all - other than the words she puts down on paper which don't make chemistry - the characters, if they feel real to us readers, make the chemistry!

This is officially the first book I have returned on Kindle - apparently you have 6 days from the day of purchase to get your money back - heck yes, I did it, no one should profit from this poorly conceived novel!
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