Rough-and-tumble rodeo cowboy Brody Creed likes life on the move. Until a chance encounter with his long-estranged twin brother brings him “home,” for the first time in years. Suddenly Brody is in Creed territory—a rootless bad boy among family with deep ties to the land and each other. He’s half-ready to bolt when he meets a copper-haired beauty more restless than he is.
Carolyn Simmons is living a temporary life in Lonesome Bend, waiting to light out for the glamour of a metropolis. Then she falls for gorgeous Brody Creed, the opposite of everything she wants. But taming his wild heart might just become everything they both need.
Oh my, oh my, oh my . . . those Creed men just keep our mouths watering and our hearts palpitating, and good ole boy Brody is no exception. Playing the bad boy of the family, estranged from his twin brother Connor for a decade, showing up in Lonesome Bend only now and then and leaving the responsibility of their jointly owned ranch to Connor, Brody was a man who seemed to live in the emotional shadows and even those closest to him most of his life felt excluded and shunned.
But Brody has now come home and is in the process of building his own house and barn on property purchased from his brother’s wife, Trisha McCall Creed–whose story was the subject of the second book in this trilogy, Creed’s Honor. Now he appears to have accepted the need to carry his share of the ranching load even though he will be living in his own home, seemingly ready to once again shoulder his family responsibilities and the relationships that go with them. Something is different about the man now. He has made peace, for the most part, with his brother and yet, there are shadows in Brody’s past, a deep hurt that he doesn’t seem to want to share, or perhaps, he finds it too painful to revisit. In any case, his family is thankful he is back and seems prepared to stay. His rodeo days are over. Add to that the fact that Trisha and Connor were expecting their first child, and Brody deeply desired the sense of happiness and contentment he perceived in his twin brother.
This novel is about lots of things–finding a way out of an emotional maze that is painful, summoning the best in one’s self, the healing power of love, overcoming fears that are so deeply rooted that they have become accepted as part and parcel of one’s life, and finding hope for the future. It is also about the need to forgive one’s self, especially when the guilt and hurt are really not legitimate nor are they about anything that can be changed.
I have to say that I liked all the Creed men in these three novels but I really came to resonate most with Brody, possibly because he was so vulnerable and tried so hard to be the hard-bitten cowboy rodeo champ that everyone else saw. Inside he was lonely, needy, and wanting to be settled and happy. He knew he had to own up to some really foolish and wounding behavior in the past, especially toward Carolyn who he had secretly desired for years, but his fumbling efforts to overcome the difficulties and barriers his behavior had caused were endearing in a way. That he would make the efforts he did were proof that down deep he was a man of deep emotion and passions, wanting a mate who would return those feelings and who would help him to feel complete.
Carolyn, too, was a tender, lost, hurting soul. She and Trisha Creed had started a business together. She was artistic, sensitive, and had major trust issues from being abandoned by the people she trusted and forced to be on her own from early age. She was a wanderer–a professional house-sitter, going from place to place, never really feeling like any spot on the planet was hers exclusively. Starting the business with Trisha made a difference–she felt that perhaps there was a place for her that no one could take away and that was not temporary. Her pain over Brody’s abandonment eight years earlier had never been relieved as she really didn’t know why he had left, especially as they has been talking marriage just hours before. It was a wound that just wouldn’t heal. His leaving just reinforced her belief that any person she loved would eventually abandon her.
Linda Lael Miller is one of those writers that just knows how to craft these characters so that they reach out and grab the reader’s imagination and they just don’t let go. In fact, this was so true in this instance, that I was truly sorry when the novel ended. There are also some surprises here and a facet of Brody’s personality that emerged in such a way that some of his friends and family were truly surprised. All the characters in these novels were unique and interesting in their own way. Carolyn was a character that I felt deeply about, and I almost felt a hurting sensation when she experienced another disappointment or when she and Brody just couldn’t seem to get on the same wave length. All is a testimony to Miller’s writing expertise and, I think, her ability to translate the images of her own imagination onto the pages of her books.
Lovers of those manly cowboy type men will love this trilogy and I think especially this book. It has capped off the three-book series so beautifully and yes, it is fiction but no, it isn’t a waste of time. It is worth every minute and you may be just like me–already thinking about re-reading it.
I give this novel a 4.5 out of 5
You can read more from Judith at Dr. J’s Book Place.
This book is available from HQN. You can buy it here in e-format.