There's a new schoolmaster in Haven, Arizona, and he's making
waves. While the current teacher is the bookish wimp of a man the
residents of Haven expect to find doing woman's work, his
replacement is something else altogether. Sam O'Ballivan may be a
schoolmaster but he's not like any this town has ever seen. In
fact, he's big and he's broad and he's armed and he has the women
of Haven, from housewives to ladies of the evening, swooning.
One woman who is immune to his sterling qualities, however, is
postmistress and merchant Maddie Chancelor. Already overprotective
of her younger brother, Terran, Miss Chancelor doesn't take kindly
when the new schoolmaster upbraids him for a boyish but potentially
harmful prank within minutes of riding into town. Maddie is
determined to keep the undercover lawman at arm's length, but that
proves harder and harder to do as they are repeatedly thrown
While Sam is taking on the local children as well as working
undercover to round up a local band of train robbers and rustlers,
Maddie Chancelor is a complication he didn't anticipate. He may be
engaged to the girl back home, but it's Maddie who fills his mind
and heats his loins even as she's railing at him for his
shortcomings. He can't help but be enchanted by this woman's beauty
and personality even as she hides her inner tenderness under a
tough exterior designed to help her provide for herself and her
brother in a man's world.
It doesn't take long for Sam to hone in on possible suspects for
wrongdoing when he encounters the wild and wanton Donagher family.
The patriarch, Mungo, is a stern and scowling man who keeps his
four sons in line with fear and physical violence. Too bad he
doesn't have the same effect on his hot-to-trot wife, Undine, who
has developed a strong attraction to Sam.
It's hard for a man to get any work done, however, when there is a
constant stream of the needy dropping in on him in the schoolhouse.
From little Violet Perkins who needs to be taught to bathe and
could use some new clothes, to Oralee Pringle, the proprietress of
the Rattlesnake Saloon and a puppy in need of a home, everyone
seems to need a piece of Sam's time. Even fancy woman Bird of
Paradise comes bearing food and offers of other sensual delights
enough to tempt a man. Somehow though, Sam manages to stick to his
business even if his mind tends to wander to more pleasurable
THE MAN FROM STONE CREEK by Linda Lael Miller is an absolutely
delightful romance with plenty of action that transported me to the
Old West and kept me there page after page as I got to know the
endearing residents of Haven. It's a definite keeper for my
bookshelf and one I'll take time to reread even when I'm tempted by
the plethora of new books that constantly vie for my attention.
It's one of those books that makes you wonder, long after you've
read the last page, what the people you've come to know and love
Reviewed by Amie Taylor on January 7, 2011