Author: Linda Lael Miller
Series: A Stone Creek Novel
Publication: Harlequin HQN; Reprint edition (February 26, 2013)
Description: #1 New York Times bestselling author Linda Lael Miller presents the Stone Creek story that started it all…
When trouble strikes in Haven, Arizona, Ranger Sam O'Ballivan is determined to sort it out. Badge and gun hidden, he arrives posing as the new schoolteacher, and discovers his first task: bringing the ranchers' children under control. So he starts with a call on Maddie Chancelor, the local postmistress and older sister of a boy in need of discipline.
But far from the spinster Sam expects, Maddie turns out to be a graceful woman whose prim and proper demeanor is belied by the fire in her eyes. Working undercover to capture rustlers and train robbers has always kept Sam isolated and his heart firmly in check—until now. But something about the spirited postmistress tempts him to start down a path he swore he'd never travel….
My Thoughts: This was another excellent Western romance from a master of the genre. Sam O'Ballivan comes to town where he takes a job as the newest school master. He is actually an Arizona Ranger looking for a gang of robbers. When he first arrives, he has to rescue the current school master from the well where his students have put him. Sam catches one of the kids and decides he has to talk to his sister about the kid's behavior.
Maddie Chancelor runs the local general store and can't believe her brother is a troublemaker. However, she is attracted to the new school master and he is attracted to her too. Only problem - he has a girlfriend at home that he is planning to marry. He hasn't actually proposed but the expectation is there and he is an honorable man.
It doesn't take long for Sam to get involved in the town and meet the local rancher, his much younger and flirtatious wife, and his three older and one younger son. Sam suspects that at least some of the older sons are involved in the robberies. Maddie has her own reasons to stay away from them all. The rancher owns the General Store and has courted her in the past. She is also very cautious around his sons since she doesn't trust them at all.
I liked the setting of this one and the things that made it Western. We have the local madam who actually does have a heart of gold. We have saloon girls who didn't have any other career options. We have a poor widow-woman and her young daughter.
Sam is a great hero. He is honest, honorable, and has an overwhelming need to rescue anyone who needs rescuing from stray puppies to old horses to young kids.
This was a very enjoyable romance which also was a good mystery with some dangerous and exciting scenes.
One of these days he was going to stop wanting to save worn-out horses and misguided girls and a whole lot of other things. It would be pure, blessed relief when that day came.I got this book through Amazon Vine. You can buy your copy here.