Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

REVIEW: The Rustler by Linda Lael Miller

Dear Ms. Miller:

I confess that the last book I read of yours was Never Look Back published in 2004. I really liked that book (the heroine sounded like a real lawyer) but for some reason, I never read the two sequels. I think it had something to do with the fact that between 2004 and the sequel’s release in 2006, I kind of forgot about the series.   I did think about picking another one of your books, Deadly Gamble, but the heroine’s name “Mojo Sheepshanks” was a bit too quirky for me (plus she talked to dead people).   Over the years, I’ve seen how successful your McKettrick series has been and I kept telling myself to pick up one of those books but was afraid for some reason.   No longer, though, because after the Rustler, I’m definitely thinking I have to read more Miller.   Maybe even some stories about Mojo Sheepshanks.

The Rustler is not a perfect book for me but what appealed to me was the old fashioned sensibility. Wyatt Yarbro almost dies in a cattle rustling endeavor and decides to take up his brother’s offer to come to Stone Creek.   It’s not like Wyatt has alot of choices in his life. He’s got no income other than what he steals; no companions other than other outlaws.   Stone Creek might offer other solutions.   When Wyatt arrives, however, his brother, Sheriff of Stone Creek, and another resident, a Marshall, are called away to gather up some criminals.   Wyatt is deputized and entrusted with the reins of the town.   Upon first laying eyes on Sarah Tamlin, an older spinster (27) and daughter of the town banker, Wyatt becomes fixated on making Sarah part of his settling down.

Sarah has been running the bank in Stone Creek because of her father’s on again, off again dementia.   She made a few bad loans and used her family funds to cover the bank.   None of the shareholders realize that she is covering for her father and she lives in constant fear that her lies will be found out and that her and her father’s source of income will be taken away from her.   She particularly fears the influence of Charles Longstreet, one of the major shareholders in the bank.   She’s attracted to Wyatt but her attraction is tempered by his former outlaw status and her many, many secrets.

For an outlaw, Wyatt was almost too perfect, saying the right things such as gently telling a gossip that she is no friend of Sarah’s to doing the right thing such as adopting a dog that was whipped and left for dead.   There is no character arc for Wyatt.   He immediately wants to marry Sarah. He’s already good. To some extent, because of his utter divineness, the story lacked movement.    He’s seriously the most honest outlaw ever and this presents a problem because when Sarah has her doubts about his trustworthiness, the reader feels frustrated.   The reader has only been privvy to his goodness and honesty and therefore Sarah’s doubts seem unreal.

Sarah’s story is much more interesting because her past is as checkered as Wyatts. I appreciated that Sarah wasn’t always a good banker, making unwise decisions.   I liked that she made terrible decisions in her past, that she wasn’t always the perfect heroine archetype.   She was devoted to her father and you could see why given his refusal to judge poorly.   He sheltered and protected her.   

Much of the story is told from Wyatt’s point of view which is one of plain speaking and simplicity.   His narrative really lent that Old West feeling to the story.   That and the fact that everyone had a hard luck story (even the dog).   For fans with a little yen for nostalgia and for those who like westerns, The Rustler is an entertaining story.   Both Sarah and Wyatt are very likeable and if things worked out just right for everyone, including the town whore, the reformed drunk, and the dementia suffering father, well, it is a romance.   B-

Best regards,


This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or Powells or ebook format.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Bev Stephans
    Nov 19, 2008 @ 16:37:07

    I started reading Linda Lael Miller’s McKettrick series about 2 years ago. I then moved on to the Stone Creek series. I have enjoyed them all with a few exceptions: The Stone Creek Christmas story and the McKettrick Christmas story of this year. They both felt forced. As if she was asked to write Christmas stories and didn’t want to. Other than those two, I have really liked both series.

    I also like the Mojo Sheepshanks series. Yeh, she talks to dead people, but I like her attitude.

  2. JaimeK
    Nov 19, 2008 @ 18:03:45

    I really like LLM’s books for one of the reasons you mentioned ” the old fashioned sensibility.” There is a charm to her books that I think we have lost in a lot of current authors these days.

    I will also say I love Mojo – you should give her a try.

  3. Leslie Kelly
    Nov 19, 2008 @ 18:12:29

    Jane, don’t let the Mojo Sheepshanks name scare you off. Those books are fantastic–my faves of hers by far. (And there is a reason behind the name.)

  4. Karin
    Nov 19, 2008 @ 20:57:36

    I haven’t read anything by Miller in quite a while. This book, though, sounds like it would be quite entertaining a good way to ease myself back.

  5. Jinni
    Nov 19, 2008 @ 21:45:05

    Miller is one of those people I never followed from categories (old Silhouettes back in the day). Your review makes me think of picking up a book of hers again . . . but maybe at the library as Western themes are not my favorite.

  6. cecilia
    Nov 19, 2008 @ 21:54:54

    I’m not into westerns, but I like Linda Lael Miller. I think of her books as comfort reads. There are baddies, but mostly the characters are nice. (Which doesn’t sound like much of a recommendation, but man, if I’m super tired, it hits the spot)

  7. Devon
    Nov 19, 2008 @ 22:13:55

    I wish my name was Mojo Sheepshanks.

  8. Leslee
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 06:13:51

    Please pick up the Mojo books. They are awesome. I really hope she continues the series. I thought the name was a little too too but I gave it a whirl and they are sarcastic and interesting! I would recommend them to anyone.

  9. GrowlyCub
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 07:38:32

    Miller has written some of my favorite romance novels (‘Snowflakes on the Sea’ comes to mind immediately), but I haven’t read her (new) in years.

    I picked up a McKettrick book at the online library a few months back, but I couldn’t get past the feeling that she was catering to the paranormal crowd, so I didn’t make it past the first few pages. I’m just really allergic to woo-woo…

  10. Tee
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 08:57:37

    Absolutely loved The Man from Stone Creek, the first of the Stone Creek books. In all honesty, though, I did not enjoy the subsequent stories. The first one had warmth and humor and believability (well, almost) and wonderful characters. However, the characters and stories in the other books were not as appealing to me. If you enjoyed this most recent issue, I wonder how much you’d like the first one (or if it’s “just me”).

  11. Jeanette
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 09:58:44

    Leslie, the Mojo books are my faves too

    Jane, if you liked “Never Look Back” you have to give them a try!

    Cecilia, you are so right about LLM’s being comfort reads

    My big question is when will the next Mojo book come out???

  12. Hilcia
    Nov 21, 2008 @ 11:10:58

    Lael Miller is one of those authors that I pick up once in a while and I just can’t seem to help myself; I enjoy her writing. I loved her McKettrick books, but have not picked up the Mojo books… must give them a look!

%d bloggers like this: