The Man from Stone Creek
Linda Lael Miller, . . HQN, $19.95 (331pp) ISBN 978-0-373-77115-8
Ranger Sam O'Ballivan, working undercover as a schoolteacher to capture a dangerous band of train robbers and rustlers in the tiny border town of Haven, Ariz., finds himself a captive of love in this new crowd pleaser from Miller. Dealing with young troublemaker Terran Chancelor leads Sam to meet Terran's fiercely protective sister, Maddie, postmistress and mercantile store manager, who immediately attracts his attention and raises his ire. Sam's increasing involvement with his students leads him to the brutally powerful Donagher family, which holds Maddie in financial peril and may be hiding participation in the robber gang. When Sam receives a tip that the bandits are set to rob a train at a distant location, he's loathe to respond and leave Maddie and Terran undefended against the volatile Donagher sons. As the plot accelerates, personal tragedies are revealed, the real villains are punished and Maddie and Sam share an into-the-sunset finale—not many surprises, but Miller's prose is smart, and her tough Eastwoodian cowboy cuts a sharp, unexpectedly funny figure in a classroom full of rambunctious frontier kids.
Reviewed on: 04/10/2006