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A Creed in Stone Creek
by Linda Lael Miller
(HQN, $7.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-0373-77555-2
***
A Creed in Stone Creek is pure Miller - engaging and enjoyable. But it is also predictable and similar to many of her other tales about these two families. I liked it and yet, it is nothing new. Her fans will surely enjoy it.

Steven Creed and his fatherís family have a long history in Colorado and his motherís family had a long history in Boston. He grew up moving between the two places Ė summers in Colorado with his cousins on the ranch and the school year in Boston. Steven was expected to go to law school and step into the family firm in Boston. But he always wanted to own a ranch. Needless to say, law school won out, but when Stevenís mother and then his grandfather passed, he decided to make a change. His plan was solidified when his best friend and his wife died in a car crash, leaving him as guardian to their five year old son, Matt. He purchased land outside Stone Creek Arizona, not far from his McKettrick relatives.

Melissa OíBallivan is a long time Stone Creek resident. She is the local district attorney and her family pretty much started the town. Her brother Sam, who became a legend in country music, owns a ranch just outside of town, settling there with his wife Meg, who used to be a McKettrick. Melissa is a little bored in town, but realizes that there is little she can do unless she decides to leave. She just got conned into taking over as the parade coordinator for the Rodeo Days parade and is less than enthusiastic. She is also still wrestling with her conscience from a case last spring where a teen was driving and killed another teen. She sent him to jail and not everyone agreed with that decision to prosecute.

Matt is the type of child who is old for his age, precocious and yet, innocent as only a five year old can be. He was an intelligent child before, but having to deal with his parentís death has left him as much more mature than a normal five year old. He immediately falls for Melissa and isnít afraid to let anyone know that he needs a new mom to go along with his new dad.

This is a rich story with lots of family, lots of history and a ton of baggage from both of the main characters. This is the first of an apparent trilogy about Steven and his two cousins, both of whom make an appearance. Some of the McKettrickís also make an appearance but one does not have to have read all of the stories for this one to stand alone. I truly enjoyed this story as I was reading it, since Miller has a way of drawing you in and making you feel like you know these people and want the very best for them. Secondary characters add to the tale. The Sheriff is a platonic friend of Melissaís and he seems like he needs his own story. The townspeople rally around and add some idiosyncrasies to the story. The two rival ladies who argue over the floats is just one of those additions the readers have come to expect from Miller.

Having said all that, this tale did not stay with me. Just two days after finishing it, I could barely remember any details beyond the obvious. This story seemed to blend in with many of Millerís tales, with nothing really to set it apart and make it memorable.

There is a nice set up for the next tales featuring twins Brody and Connor, two men who grew up thick as thieves. But something happened and they have not spoken to each for years. Their reuniting at the rodeo did not go well and fans will just have to wait to see what is in store for them.

A Creed in Stone Creek is a nice addition to Linda Lael Millerís many tales, but it is just one of many and while entertaining, is not her best.

--Shirley Lyons


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