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Carolyn Simmons is looking for Mr. Right in Lonesome Bend, as the ticktock of her biological clock gets...
Carolyn Simmons is looking for Mr. Right in Lonesome Bend, as the ticktock of her biological clock gets ever louder. Then she falls for gorgeous Brody Creed, the opposite of everything she wants. Until lassoing his wild heart becomes everything both of them need.
Ranching, Brody Creed thought, shifting in the saddle as he surveyed the sprawling range land from a high ridge. It can mend a broken heart, this life, and then shatter it all over again, in a million and one different ways and twice that many pieces.
There were plenty of perils. Cattle starved or froze to death when a hard winter came around, which averaged once a year up there in the high country. Spring calves and colts fell prey to wolves and coyotes and sometimes bears, hungry after hibernating through the coldest months.
It was now May, and all was well, but come summertime, wells might dry up for lack of rain, and turn the grass to tinder, ready to blaze up at the smallest spark. He'd seen wildfires consume hundreds of acres in a matter of hours, herds and houses and barns wiped out.
Year round, good horses went lame and pickup trucks gave up the ghost, and every so often, somebody drowned in the river or one of the lakes.
On the other hand, Brody reflected, the beauty of that land could heal, take a man by surprise, even though he'd called the place home all his life. That day, for instance, the sky was so blue it made Brody's heart ache, and the aspens, cottonwoods and pines lining the landscape were shimmering splashes of green, a thousand hues of it, ranging from silvery to near-indigo. The river wound like a ribbon through the valley, clear as azure glass.
After a few moments, Brody adjusted his hat and sighed before giving the gelding a light nudge with the heels of his boots. The buckskin, long-legged with a black mane and tail, picked his way cautiously down the steep slope that led to the water's edge.
Behind them and a hundred yards farther along the riverbank, in a westerly direction, hammers clacked and power saws screeched, and Brody glanced back, pleased, as always, to see the steel-and-lumber skeletons of his house and barn rising.
Not so long ago, there had been a campground and RV park on the site, owned by Tricia McCall, now his sister-in-law and therefore a Creed. The picnic tables and the concrete fire pits were gone, along with the public showers and electrical hookups for trailers. Only the log building that had once served as the office remained; Brody had been baching in it since last Thanksgiving, when he'd moved out of the main ranch house.
The peace between him and twin brother, Conner, could be a fragile one at times, and they both benefited by a little distance.
Now, ready to get moving, Brody clucked his tongue and gave the gelding, Moonshine, another tap with his heels.
"Come on, now," he told the buckskin, his tone reasonable. "The water's shallow here, and it's real calm. If we're going to be working livestock on both sides of this river, then you've got to learn how to cross it."
Moonshine, recently acquired at an auction in Denver, was young, and Brody hadn't had a chance to train him in the ways of a cow pony.
No time like the present, he figured.
Brody was about to get down out of the saddle and lead the horse into the water, which lapped gently at the stony shore that used to be a swimming beach, back when the River's Bend Campground was a going concern, when Moonshine suddenly decided he was willing to get wet after all.
He plunged into the water, up to his chest, making a mighty splash in the process. Brody, gripping the barrel of that horse hard between his knees, just to stay in the saddle, laughed out loud before giving a whoop of pure delight.
His boots filled, and within moments his jeans were soaked to the tops of his thighs, but he didn't care. Moonshine swam that river like he had Olympic aspirations, his powerful legs pumping, his head high and his ears pricked up.
"Good boy," Brody told the horse, with gruff appreciation. "You're doing just fine."
Reaching the other side, Moonshine bunched his haunches for the effort and bunny-hopped up the steepest part of the bank, water pouring off him in sheets. Once he'd gained level ground, the animal shook himself like a dog and Brody laughed again, for no other reason than that life was good.
He was home.
And, for the most part, he was happy to be there. Drenched, he got down from the saddle to pull off his boots, empty them and yank them back on over his sodden socks. When he got to the main house, he'd swap his wet duds for dry ones from Conner's closet.
Having an identical twin brother had its advantages, and one of them was access to a whole other wardrobe.
There'd been a time when Conner would have groused about Brody's tendency to borrow his stuff, but last New Year's Eve, Brody's "little brother," born a couple of minutes after he was, had taken a wife. Conner was happy with Tricia, and these days it took more than a missing shirt or pair of jeans to get under his hide.
They were on a perpetual honeymoon, Conner and Tricia, and now, with a baby due in three months, they glowed, the both of them, as if they were lit from within.
Brody mounted up again and reined Moonshine toward the home-place, feeling a mixture of things as he considered his twin's good fortune.
Sure, he was glad things were working out so well for Conner, but he was a little envious, too.
Not that he'd have admitted it to anybody.
Tricia was beautiful, smart and funny, and she'd taken to ranch life with surprising ease, for a city girl. Essentially a greenhorn, she'd gone horseback riding almost every day since the wedding, when the weather allowed, anyway—until her pregnancy was confirmed. Then Conner had put a stop to the pursuit.
No more trail rides until after the baby's arrival.
Period, end of discussion.
Brody grinned, recalling how adamant his brother had been. For the most part, the marriage appeared to be an equal partnership, but this time, Conner had laid down the law. And Tricia, normally the independent type, had capitulated.
That was just common sense, to Brody's mind, though a lot of country women continued to ride when they were expecting a baby, herding cattle, rounding up strays, checking fence lines. Conner's strong opposition was a no-brainer—Rachel Creed, Conner and Brody's mother, had continued to enter barrel-racing events long after she learned she was carrying twins. There hadn't been a specific incident, but soon after giving birth to Brody and Conner, Rachel's health had begun to go downhill.
She'd died when her infant sons were less than a month old.
Blue Creed, their father, hadn't lasted much longer. Overwhelmed by the responsibility, he'd brought the babies home to the ranch, right around their first birthday, and handed them over to his brother, Davis, and Davis's wife, Kim. Soon afterward, Blue himself had been thrown from a horse and broken his neck. He'd been in a coma for six weeks, and then died.
Now, crossing the range between the river and the two-story house Conner and Tricia had been sharing since they got hitched, the grass rippling around him like a green sea, Brody did his best to ignore the clammy chill of wet denim clinging to his legs—and the old, deep-seated sorrow rooted in his soul. He did take some consolation from seeing the cattle grazing all around, most of them Herefords, with a few Black Anguses to break the red-brown monotony. Two dozen broncos, specially bred for the rodeo, and six Brahma bulls completed the menagerie.
Clint and Juan and a couple of the other ranch hands wove in and out among the different critters on horseback, mainly keeping the peace. Brody touched his hat-brim to the other men as he passed, and those who were looking his way returned the favor.
By then, Moonshine was restless, trying to work the bit between his teeth, so Brody gave him his head. That cayuse might be skittish when it came to crossing rivers, but he sure did like to run.
Brody bent low over the buckskin's neck, holding his hat in place with one hand and keeping a loose grip on the reins with the other.
And that horse ate up ground like a jet taxiing along a runway before takeoff.
Brody was enjoying the ride so much that the corral fence sprang up in front of them as suddenly as a line of magic beanstalks.
Moonshine soared over that top rail as if he'd sprouted wings, practically stretched out flat, and came in for a magnificent landing about one foot short of the place where Conner stood, looking like he'd had rusty nails for breakfast instead of bacon and eggs.
Brody gazed down into a face so like his own that the sight of it even took him aback sometimes, and he was used to being pretty much an exact duplicate of his brother.
Conner was scowling up at him, through swirls of settling dust, and he looked as though he'd like to grab hold of Brody, haul him off that horse and beat the holy bejesus out of him. So much for personality improvements resulting from wedded bliss!
"Oops," Brody said cheerfully, because he knew that would piss off Conner and he still enjoyed doing that now and again, even though they'd been getting along well for a respectable length of time. "Sorry."
He swung down and faced Conner, who was taut with annoyance, his shoulders squared, his fists clenched and his attitude contentious.
"Damn it, Brody," he growled, "am I having one of my invisible days, or are you going blind? You darn near ran me down, and it'll take me the better part of the morning to get this mare calm enough to work with again!"
Prior to the leap, Brody hadn't noticed his brother or the pinto mare, now nickering and tossing her head over on the far side of the corral, but he didn't think it would be smart to say as much. Instead, he decided to come from a place of helpfulness.
"You starting horses yourself these days, instead of letting one of the wranglers do it?" he asked, bending to pick up the lightweight saddle the mare must have tossed when he and Moonshine came over the fence.
Conner grabbed the saddle and jerked it out of Brody's hands. "Yes," he snapped in response. "You dropped out for a decade, Davis broke both legs the last time he rode a bronc and Clint and Juan are downright creaky at the hinges. Who the hell did you think was starting the horses?"
"Whoa," Brody said, recoiling slightly and still grinning. "What's chewing on you? Did you have a fight with the little woman or something?"
"No!" Conner yelled.
Brody chuckled, adjusted his hat and then turned to get Moonshine by the reins. After the river crossing and the hard run over the range, not to mention that spectacular jump, he figured the horse deserved some stall time, free of the saddle and bridle. "Well, what's the matter, then?" he asked reasonably, starting toward the side door of the barn.
"Nothing," Conner bit out, setting the dusty saddle on the top rail of the fence and turning to the mare.
"Something is," Brody insisted calmly, pausing.
Conner looked at Brody then, through the haze of slowly settling corral dirt, and sighed. "Tricia and I might have had words," he said grudgingly.
"Trouble in the vine-covered cottage?" Brody teased, knowing it couldn't be anything serious. He'd never seen a man and a woman more deeply in love than his brother and Tricia were.
"She says I'm overprotective," Conner said, taking off his hat and swatting his thigh with it before putting it back on.
Brody flashed a grin. Rubbed his beard-stubbled chin with one hand. "You?" he joked. "Overprotective? Just because you'd wrap the lady in foam-rubber padding, if she'd let you, so she wouldn't stub her toe?"
Conner glared, but there was a grin to match Brody's brewing in his blue eyes. He held it off as long as he could, but then it broke through, like sunlight penetrating a cloud-bank.
"Put your horse away," Conner said. "I might as well turn the mare out to graze for the rest of the day, now that you and that gelding scared her out of three years' growth."
Brody led Moonshine into the barn, put him in a stall and gave him a couple of flakes of hay. When he left by the main door, Conner was waiting for him in the yard, throwing a stick for the Lab-retriever mix, Valentino.
In Brody's opinion, that was a prissy-assed name for a ranch dog, but the poor critter had already been saddled with it when Conner and Tricia took up with each other. Conner had tried calling him "Bill" for a while, but the former stray wouldn't answer to that, so Valentino it was.
Brody looked around. There was no sign of Tricia, or the Pathfinder she drove.
"She's gone to town to help Carolyn at the shop," Conner said. He usually had a pretty fair idea what Brody was thinking, and the reverse was also true. "The woman is pregnant out to here." He shaped his hands around an invisible basketball, approximately at belly level. "What would be so wrong with staying home for one day? Taking it easy, putting her feet up for a while?"
Brody chuckled and slapped his brother on the shoulder. "She's running a small-town art gallery, Conner," he said, "not bungee-jumping or riding bulls in a rodeo."
Conner's face tightened momentarily and, once again, Brody knew what was on his twin's mind because they so often thought in tandem.
"There's no connection between our mom's pregnancy and Tricia's," Brody added quietly. "Stop looking for one."
Conner sighed, managed a raw kind of grin. Nodded.
It struck Brody then, though not for the first time, of course, just how vulnerable loving a woman made a man. And after the baby came? It would be way worse.
Brody shivered, momentarily swamped with recollections.
"What happened to your clothes, anyhow?" Conner asked, looking him over. He tended to get around to things in his own good time.
"Moonshine got a little overenthusiastic crossing the river," Brody replied.
Posted June 28, 2011
Carolyn Simmons and Brody Creed had a brief, tumultuous relationship until a late night telephone call took him out of her life eight years earlier. Now he's back, but the hurt he caused and her lingering doubts remain. Can these two hurting souls move beyond a dark secret and a bitter past to reach a happy future?
Brody Creed likes life on the move, and for the past eight years he's done just that...on the rodeo circuit. When he finally returns to Lonesome Bend, his attempts at reconciling with his twin brother Connor are rebuffed, but Brody has ties to the land and at last plans to settle down and run his half of the Creed ranch. He buys Tricia McCall's deceased father's run-down RV park and despite his estrangement from Connor, he begins construction on a house and barn on the property.
Family ties run deep, so Brody and Connor, who has now married Tricia McCall, are often dinner guests at their uncle Davis' and Aunt Kim's home, as is Tricia's and Kim's close friend Carolyn. Past hurts make Carolyn wary; she usually tries to escape seeing Brody, but as her biological clock ticks on, she comes to understand the Creed bad boy still has the power to turn her world upside down.
Ms. Miller delves deep into the human psyche to bring a story of love, loss and redemption in the lives of Brody and Carolyn. Filled with doubts about herself stemming from years as a neglected foster child, Carolyn cannot allow herself to trust, and Brody must come to terms with a secret that up until now, he's been unable to discuss. He must set aside his guilt in order to be the man Carolyn needs.
Another great story in the Creed series. Wonderful characters, dynamic dialogue and a setting that will make you want to move to Lonesome Bend. You will love the way these two needy characters dance around the truth, pretending their feelings are not on parade. Their epiphanies make for a thoroughly satisfying read.
Originally posted at The Long and Short of It Romance Reviews
4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 8, 2011
True to form, Miller does not disappoint with this latest in the Creed series. Miller does a great job creating a story with combined passion and frustration. Western romance readers will love this one!
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 28, 2011
Brody Creed has something to prove-he's just not sure to whom. Most likely it is himself. Having made some difficult turns in his life, things didn't always work out how he'd hoped. And he's put up so many walls his own twin brother doesn't know that Brody is a widower and lost a child as well. All his family and the town of Lonesome Dove know about him is that he roamed the rodeo circuit for a decade before finally coming back home. Maybe that's how Brody should keep things, but then there is one little lady who deserves more of an explanation for how he treated her years ago. If she can forgive him, there may be hope to mend his sore heart.
Carolyn Simmons knows all about being a rolling stone. She just never thought she'd be on the receiving end of someone else's moving on. Brody Creed broke her heart into little pieces once-when she was most vulnerable. She's not about to go back for seconds, regardless of how attracted she is to the man. Once Brody had given her a taste of what being loved and part of a family could be like. That will have to suffice unless her little foray into internet dating pans out. Anything not to let Brody Creed get too close.
Once again Ms. Miller's mines the hearts and souls of her characters to strike at their vulnerabilities so as to make them stronger in the end. Brody Creed acts a good game, but deep inside he is hurting and all the bravado in the world won't cure that. Carolyn is scared to open up, yet afraid that loneliness is all she'll ever know. Together these two must learn about trust before they will be able to experience love. Sweet and sensual, this romance is all about the healing aspects of true love.
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 20, 2011
Posted August 31, 2013
Posted August 3, 2013
I did not care for this book at all. I found it very unrealistic and did not care for the ease in which every problem was solved. A little more controversy would have made it much better.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 6, 2013
Posted February 20, 2013
Posted July 27, 2012
This is the 3rd and last installment of the new Creed Series. This bookd is all about Brody, the wild twin. In this book we find out why Brody did what he did in the past. Brody has always been in love with Carolyn, and was ready to settle down and make a life with her, but when his past comes calling, Brody leaves her in the dark of night with just a note of "Sorry".
Now Brody is back and wants to make things right with not only his family but also Carolyn. He is as much in love with her now as he was then, but in order to move forward he will have to share his painful secerts with his family and the woman that means everything to him.
Loved this series. This is a must read for anyone that has enjoyed the Creed\McKetticks\Store Creek Series of the past. Looking forward to more wonderful stories and series from Ms. Miller.
Posted March 31, 2012
Posted March 22, 2012
Posted January 2, 2012
The Creed Legacy was a great wrap up to the Montana Creeds Trilogy. You are happy that the brothers are able to clear up their past and move on to be the close brothers they should have been. You are also happy that Carolyn finally finds the love she always deserved.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 2, 2011
Posted October 22, 2011
Tick. Tick. Tick. All Carolyn Simmons can hear is the ticking of her biological clock. It's been eight years since that low down good for nothing cowboy ripped her heart out and tromped on it and she still isn't over it - or him. Oh, that Brody Creed! Who does he think he is, anyway? He thinks he can just waltz back into town and take what he wants! Well, Carolyn is not up for the taking!
Brody Creed knows that it'll take a miracle to change Carolyn's mind about him but maybe a bit of work and some good old fashioned charm will do the trick instead.
I liked this new series from Linda Lael Miller.
I was up for jury duty and they said to bring a book so I purchased Steven and Conner's books -- my first Harlequin books and I was hooked.
I'm not into the explicit scenes but there seems to be only about one per book which can easily be skipped and she does use the Lord's name in vain -- if you can skip over like I did the stories are solid and the characters are fleshed out well.
Light, fast, and entertaining reads.
Posted September 7, 2011
I have always loved Ms Miller's books but this series left a lot to be desired. maybe she's run out of stories to tell. The story lines seemed to be warmed over retells.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 10, 2011
Posted July 18, 2011
Posted July 16, 2011