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Review: A Creed in Stone Creek by Linda Lael Miller

Thanks to Meryl L Moss Media Associates I have a copy of A Creed in Stone Creek to give away to one of my US readers. To enter go here, and leave a comment.


creed in stone creek miller Review: A Creed in Stone Creek by Linda Lael Miller

Melissa OBallivan is Stone Creeks prosecutor, and prides herself on her commitment to the law, her health, her family. In fact, the only area where Melissa struggles with commitment is with those of the male persuasion. Diamond rings? Children? The very thought makes Melissa run a mileand thats in addition to the two she runs every morning. Even the thought of looking after a pet makes her break out in hives (literally). So when defence lawyer Stephen Creed strides into townand with kid and dog in tow, no lessMelissas first instinct is to make like an ostrich and stick her head very firmly in the sand. But Stone Creek is your quintessential small town, and its hard to avoid a newcomer, particularly when you share friends, family, and even a court case.

My thoughts

Regular readers of RIASS will know that Im not an avid romance reader; in fact, Im scarcely 'more than a dabbler, with only a handful of romance reads to my name. But some quixotic, parochial inner part of me has a thing for small towns and the American South, and if you wave such a book in front of my nose, Im all but guaranteed to pick it up. And let me say that A Creed in Stone Creek has all things southern and small-town in spades. In fact, this small-town mentality is so evident that I think a disclaimer is required at this point: this is the kind of book where youll need to check feminist and progressive attitudes at the door (a hard thing for me to do, admittedly). The book very much has a 1950s aesthetic to it, and with a feel not unlike something out of The Stepford Wives or Pleasantville. Delightful, chirpy families abound, all of them with doe-eyed children, cheerful pups, and attentive grandmothers in tow. The women dress in polka-dot dresses complete with ruffles (except for the octogenarian nudists, of course, but we wont go there!), and are fabulous cooks, exemplary cleaners, and have spectacular gardens, while the men are utterly adoring of their spouses and children, boast huge arm muscles, and have respectable manly careers. Theres certainly an end goal in this book, and given the ubiquitous references to pregnancy, children, and all things related to breeding, its something along the lines of go forth and multiply.

One of the major foibles of our heroine, of course, is that she tries to avoid letting her uterus be her guiding force in life. But because of this, she has a job that, while fulfilling her desire to have an impressive qualification and a smart-sounding role, is generally less than inspiring; her culinary skills are limited to microwaving a frozen Weight Watchers dish; and her clothes contain things such as darts and tailoring, rather than ruffly goodness. Its a bit of a painful contrast, and its hard not to take issue with the contrast between the hard-working spinster and the brownie-baking housewife. But this is a romance, after all, and I set aside my misgivings as best as possible (until the final chapter, but well get to that in a bit).

Curiously, A Creed in Stone Creek is less a romance than a mainstream novel that contains some romantic elements. Steven Creed is for the most part more interested in renovating his newly purchased ranch and looking after his adopted (and Children of the Corn-like'creepily precocious) son than he is in engaging in a romance. Besides that, his heart was once broken by a lawyer, so its pointless to go there again. Its a slightly bizarre motivation, and one that brings to mind plenty of pouting and petulant expressions, but weirdly its the sort of motivation thats rife throughout this book. While most of the characters are pleasant enough archetypesthe sort that youd see on a daytime soapour hero and heroine are wildly vascillating in their motivations, reasoning, and actions. Theyre more up and down than a sine graph, and its hard not to be confused by the childish, nonsensical ways in which they act around each other. Theres a weird mix of the chaste and the promiscuous, and the rather out-of-the-blue raunchy scene in which they get down and do the dirty seems a touch odd after all of the ruffles and blueberry pies weve been reading about to this point. Moreover, while I accept that a romance necessarily has a scene in which the hero and heroine have to fight before getting back together again, the background for this in this book lacks believability, and the severity of the characters reactions (Melissas in particular) just seems bizarre. Refusing to talk to a man because hes agreed to take on a court case as part of his job? Hmm.

While I managed to suspend my feminist leanings throughout Melissas existential and career-related struggles, I have to say that the ending of this book did manage to elicit a snort of indignation (or perhaps despair) from me, and resulted in a bit of a drop in my flashy little star rating below. While a happily-ever-after ending is requisite for this genre, the saccharine nature of this one has to be seen to be believedand even then its hard to understand. Our man-loathing, career-oriented, culinarily-impaired, canine-allergic heroine suddenly switches to the dark side, quitting her job to work in a pet shelter, becoming a domestic goddess, eschewing her tailored slacks in favour of peasant dresses, and getting engaged right off the bat (and pregnant with, of course, twins, since one bun in the oven isnt enough). All of this happens in the last five pages, making it all a touch difficult to fathom (and resulting in a slightly bilious taste in the readers mouth).

Still, on the whole, the novel flows well, and is comfortingly familiar. It doesnt pack any punches, and you wont find yourself struck by any narrative twists or complexities, but youll be able immerse yourself in the sweet-as-pie town of Stone Creekcomplete with parade floats, diners, baking, and pet sheltersfor a good few hours, and its all pleasant and aww-inducing enough. There are a few minor plotlines, such as that involving a teenaged recidivist and his slimy friends, that seem a little forced, and theres a mystery element that would probably have been better left alone. In addition to that, there are quite a few scenes involving tiresomely mundane activities such as baking, getting dressed, going for a job, and putting petrol in the car that could have done with a bit of editorial excision, but overall, the novel is solid enough if very much reliant on cliches and archetypes. Oh, and the hero isnt an alpha male, which is a relief!


For a warm and friendly read that doesnt push the boundaries, but rather tries to take you back in time to a land of white picket fences and smiling wholesomeness, A Creed in Stone Creek is a solid read. Expect small-town shenanigans, all of your favourite archetypes, and plenty of lurve and family-oriented elements, but dont expect a plot that will knock your socks off or in-depth characterisation. This is the kind of book you read while sitting at home on a Friday night with a family sized packet of Maltesers in your lap.

Rating: star Review: A Creed in Stone Creek by Linda Lael Millerstar Review: A Creed in Stone Creek by Linda Lael Millerhalfstar Review: A Creed in Stone Creek by Linda Lael Millerblankstar Review: A Creed in Stone Creek by Linda Lael Millerblankstar Review: A Creed in Stone Creek by Linda Lael Miller (not bad)

With thanks to Meryl L Moss Media relations for the review copy

Purchase A Creed in Stone Creek from Amazon | Book Depository UK | Book Depository USA

See our other Linda Lael Miller reviews

Other books by Linda Lael Miller

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  1. We shared similar opinions on this one, though you were a little more generous than me :)
    shelleyrae @ Bookd Out recently posted..Books Make it Better

    • Stephanie /

      Thanks, ShelleyRae! Must be a case of great minds!

      To be honest, I quite enjoyed this one until the very end, and thought it was a decent enough read, although obviously it touched a nerve here and there!

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