Haven, Arizona Territory
Ranger Sam O’Ballivan was wondering to himself what the hell the major had gotten him into this time. The assignment of going undercover as the new schoolmaster of the wild and lawless town of Haven, Arizona was going to prove his biggest challenge yet! Even more dangerous then rounding up the gang that had been robbing the area’s trains and banks as well as rustling cattle and lynching innocent people was going to be keeping that group of ruffian kids under control at the schoolhouse. The biggest troublemaker being Terran Chancelor whose sister, prim and proper Maddie ran the mercantile.
Maddie Chancelor was a woman who had beat the odds that were stacked against her time and again and was not about to let Sam O’Ballivan bully her into how to deal with her scamp of a younger brother! Sam was a mystery unto itself for Maddie. Everything about the mysterious Mr. O’Ballivan screamed "lawman", yet here he was the town’s new schoolmaster! Maddie was falling, hard, for Sam, and for Sam, Maddie was an attraction he did not need in his already convoluted life. Sam had made promises to another woman, whose face was becoming dimmer in his memory every time he looked at Maddie. Sam had to keep reminding himself that his future was in Stone Creek, not here with tempestuous Maddie Chancelor in Haven!
Award winning author Linda Lael Miller’s newest historical western is The Man from Stone Creek. I am a huge and longstanding fan of Ms. Miller and was very eager to read this story but found myself extremely disappointed from chapter one on. The characters are hard to decipher, the animals are given more personality then the hero and heroine! Maddie can be cold and harsh one minute and then warm and loving the next. Sam is an enigma! He can be the ruthless lawman and yet still want to take in strays, both human and animal. The secondary characters disappear quickly; they fall to the back burner, or are killed off so do not attach yourself to them. The flimsy romance between Sam and Maddie, (I say that because it is non-existant),takes a backseat to everything else and by the time it tries to come to the surface the book is nearly over.