Wednesday, September 18, 2013

REVIEW: At Home in Stone Creek by Linda Lael Miller

Published in 2009 by Silhouette Books.

This is my September selection for the #TBRChallenge hosted by Wendy the Super Librarian. This month's theme is 'Western' and well.. I thought this was a western based on the title and cowboy hat on the cover, but it's actually a contemporary romance with no cowboys or even a ranch really. Well, the main character's brother runs a ranch but the story doesn't have anything to do with the ranch or ranch life at all.

Ashley O'Ballivan is one of the only single women left in Stone Creek. She's had two pretty serious flings with Jack McCall but he's up and left her and Stone Creek without a word to anyone not once, but twice! Lonely and pretty much broken hearted, Ashley is trying to find some happiness in a simple life by cooking, quilting and taking care of guests in her bed and breakfast. Well, maybe she's not getting many guests, but that better change soon if she's ever going to repay her brother's generous business loan.

After a very long dry spell of no customers, someone finally shows up to rent a room from Ashley ... and it's none other than Jack McCall. Jack actually arrives at her door in an ambulance after having been injected by a lethal toxin on a dangerous and secret assignment, but determined to recover in Stone Creek where he knew he'd find Ashley. Jack remains pretty secretive about his job and why he's walked out on Ashely in the past, but he keeps no secrets about how he loves her, 'always have, always will.' Ashely, in turn, has a soft spot for Jack and takes him into her bed and breakfast and into her bed without any hesitation. Her protective siblings want her to be happy, but no one seems to be thrilled with Jack showing up again, and rightly so if you ask me.

Jack's work quickly gets in the way of any progress between Jack and Ashley, and complicating things for everyone. Eventually these two get together and get their happily ever after but it sure did take a lot of let downs, heartaches and half baked excuses before they got there.

The premise of this story is very appealing--I really wanted to see Ashley and Jack solidify their love for each other and plan for a future together, but I felt none of that happened even though they did get their happily ever after by the end of the book. I understand the Silhouette line produces relatively shorter stories, so there's only so much page time for the characters, but still, I felt everything in Ashely and Jack's story was rushed. The worst part, I think, is that they never really discussed how hurtful it was every time Jack left Ashley for months and years at a time without warning, explanations or even an 'I love you' note. After being treated that way twice over several years, Ashley takes Jack back into her bed and into her heart so easily that she comes across reckless and even desperate. Although as I write this I wonder that perhaps Ashley takes Jack back into her heart and bed so quickly because she wants to experience something--anything close to a happy, loving life before someone else decides otherwise on her behalf! Why not forgive Jack for walking out on her twice before and take what she can from him while she can when her siblings and even Jack himself seem to make all the decisions in this book, know 'what's best for Ashley' and leave her practically a puppet in her own love story.

Overall this story is cute, but both Jack and Ashely's family were way too controlling over Ashley's life and way too quick to make decisions for her. Neither party really ever gave her the chance to express how she felt or what she wanted. On the other hand, Ashley was too soft hearted and forgiving when it came Jack and she really deserved better from him even right to the end. So a few too many disappointments in this one for me to strongly recommend it to other readers, unless you are a fan of the Stone Creek series.

It was okay, so 2 out of 3 stars on goodreads.


Do you read western romances? 
I have very, very few western romances on my shelves. If you had to recommend just one book to me, what would it be? 


  1. Well, I'm not really a fan of the author, but for a contemporary western. I loved Marin Thomas newest Twins under the Christmas Tree. Yes, its a Harlequin and yes, I did get an advanced copy but it is cowboy contemporary. Another wonderful cowboy story I'd recommend would be either Lori Wilde's The First Love Cookie Clu

  2. Hi Tessa,
    This was my first book by this author and clearly I'm on the fence if I'd pick up another one. Maybe if it were Christmas themed because I tend to just read those for pure sugary fun and I'm simply less critical there. Having said that.. thanks for the rec for the Marin Thomas holiday Harlequin! I'll keep my eyes out for it. I have heard of Lori Wilde's The First Love Cookie Club, but had no idea it was a cowboy story!
    Thanks so much for stopping by. :)


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