REVIEW: Montana Creeds: Dylan by Linda Lael Miller
Despite the fact that I’ve heard of your name since I got back to reading romances, I’ve never tried any of your books. Can’t say why since I don’t recall any horrible press or bad reviews. I guess it’s just a case of never having picked one up. When Jane sent a copy of this arc, I decided it was time to finally one of the romance world’s best known authors.
Dylan Creed is from the legendary Creed family. Born and bred in Montana for generations, the Creeds seem to be hard living, hard loving, down home cowboys. Dylan certainly lives up to a lot of this.
The middle son of Jake Creed, he had to live down his father’s hard luck, hard drinking life. Now, Dylan’s a former rodeo bull rider who just got saddled with his two year old daughter when her mother decided she couldn’t take care of Bonnie anymore. His first thought is “What does a two year old eat?” followed by the instinctive urge to head home to Stillwater Springs.
When he arrives, he discovers that his high school love, Kristy Madison, is the town librarian and that she didn’t marry the man she rebounded to after Dylan left town. Dylan also discovers that Kristy is still a little pissed at him, that the spark between them is still hot and that Kristy adores Bonnie.
In addition, Dylan is still working on reestablishing a relationship with his two brothers, Kristy’s father might have committed murder years ago, Sharlene is still hitting Dylan up for money even though she no longer has Bonnie, there’s a town election for the next sheriff, rich people are bidding on the old Madison place and the local real estate agent has some kind of grudge against Kristy. Yep, there’s a lot to keep track of in Stillwater Springs.
I started the book wanting to see more of Dylan the rodeo performer but quickly realized that he’s retired. Bummer. Then suddenly there’s a toddler in the picture. Generally this would be the time when I start to twitch. However, I was amazed that I actually liked Bonnie. Here’s a real two year old. Though she’s often described in terms of an angel (surrounded by halos of light and with golden curls) she acts like a toddler. Sometimes she’s sweet and sometimes she’s a holy terror. Dylan’s interactions with his daughter are not cloying but very realistic.
“I shoveled some of that toddler goop into her mouth earlier,” Dylan answered, after tossing a fond glance in his daughter’s direction. “She spit most of it back at me, but I figure enough went down to hold off starvation.”
Dylan has a fine sense of humor and I laughed with him throughout much of the story. He’s also having to work hard at not slugging his brothers after swallowing his pride to ask his elder, lawyer, brother for help with his custody suit for Bonnie. There’s bad blood between the three men that you slowly explain the origins of. Fine and good and I can see where it came from, given their father and their upbringing. These were actually the best parts of the book for me, watching Dylan and his older brother Logan, who just had his own book last month, gingerly ease back into being a family.
I did get tired of the many references to the Creed Family History, the Creed Bond with The Land, what Being a Creed Means, etc. It’s obvious that this is a family you’ve written about often in the past but at times I could almost hear the crescendo of western style, manly music as these men got back to their Creed Roots. Be that as it may, I still think your descriptions of them sound like some rowdy brothers I know.
Kristy Madison is a cowgirl turned librarian. She’s pretty, hard working, has a nice life, a home of her own that she’s lovingly restoring and a Persian cat. I have a Persian cat so you score points with me there. I was glad that she didn’t dissolve into a puddle of goo the moment Dylan and Bonnie hit town. She actually waited a few days before the meltdown.
And this is when the grade for the book began to slip. Right about the point where it dawned on me that this was going to be one of those stories with characters who worship at the Altar of the Holy Womb. That’s right. Women who genuinely seem to feel that unless they’ve spit out a young ‘un, nothing in their life is really worth while. Of one woman Kristy thinks, “though she and Bill had never had children, it was common knowledge that they were still as deeply in love as ever.” At another point, Kristy glances around her pristine car and despairs that there are no sippy cups or baby seats or toys scattered through it.
Now don’t get me wrong. I realize that my choice and ardent desire to remain childfree is not one shared by many women. I know fast friends whose main desire in life was to be a mommy. God bless ’em and my own mother too. But I hate the feeling that I should be kowtowing to a diaper bag and that there’s something wrong and sad about my life if I’m not. And the fact that the one woman in the book who doesn’t want a child is a worthless, gold-digging tramp.
While I was sinking under the weight of all this Womb Worship, I was still wondering about the mystery of Kristy’s father. Had he done somebody wrong years ago? And what would be discovered when a supposed grave site was exhumed? And could a murderer still be roaming loose in town?
As the remaining pages of the book dwindled, I started to worry that the resolution wouldn’t arrive until the last book in this obvious trio. Which pissed me off but since I want to know about that brother, I was prepared to wait it out. I almost wish this was what happened instead of the deus ex machina wrap up I got. My notes state, “Where the fuck did this come from!?” ‘Nuff said.
So, was my decision to try one of your books a good one? Yes, and no. I loved the relationship between the Creed brothers. I enjoyed the subtle humor in the book. I actually liked the toddler which flabbergasted me. Though if a pharmacist actually advised giving this child aspirin, I hope someone stops Dylan before he does it. I also think that readers new to the series will be able to pick it up here and not miss anything.
I didn’t like feeling that my life accomplishments so far would be deemed a nice try but ultimately doom me to third place in the world of the Creeds. And the resolution of not only the murder but the custody battle were weak. After debating, I’m going to settle on a C+ grade.
This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or ebook format from the Sony Store and other etailers.
I haven’t read her new books in years, but I have to say that cover guy is smoking hot! I’m glad I read your review, though, since I may have picked it up just to drool over the guy some more. :)
I’m also mega allergic to the message you object to, considering that I’m voluntarily childless at 38 and absolutely have no intentions of changing that state.
You might want to try some of her older works. Snowflakes on the Sea is one of my favorites by her. I haven’t re-read it in a few years, but the last time I did it was still as good as I thought it was the first read around.
That does it right there. I don’t mind the child positive message although children were out of the question for me, but when people who don’t want children are demonized in the same book, that is too much.
All three brothers are smoking hot to me. And not in that “I’m a cover model” kind of way. They look like guys you could see just walking down a street.
I know my stand on the “everyone who’s anyone wants to be a mommy” message will piss some readers off. Sorry about that but why can’t childless couples be the hero and heroine of a book? I would hate to be the one Kristy pities because I’m not loaded down with a toddler + toddler stuff.
I know Miller also writes historicals so I wonder if I’d like those better? The last book in this series is already loaded on my Sony because I want to know what happens to that brother so Miller didn’t do a totally sucky job at grabbing my attention. I’ll just hope for more brother interactions and less about children.
I’ve got the first brother’s book in TBR (a target impulse purchase) I need to check it. Sounds like her writing was interesting outside harping on the family member/legacy stuff.
As a mom I can say that there is nothing like having a baby. If you’ve not had them, you can’t know… even if you think you know because you want them so bad. I remember being a baby fever crazed 24 year old back in the day and how that felt. **BUT** it’s really, really not for everyone nor should it be shoved down anybody’s throat.
Aw man, that sucks. I’ve got fabulous friends who don’t want to be parents. I totally dig that, and they’re not weird or trampy or whory either. Some are even choosing to not marry – that’s SO OK TOO!!!
I guess my point here is to each her own, and that I prefer books written as respectful of all family/babies/marriage preferences.
I take it this is the one pharmacist in the world who isn’t well aware of Reye’s Syndrome? Proofreading whoops ftw!
I just o’d on Robyn Carr’s Virgin River series, and there’s a similarly strong subtext message in those too. Don’t get me wrong, I went through them like a bunny on crack, but coming out of the haze, I find myself everso slightly icked, particularly by the 3rd book, where a crackerjack female prosecutor settles down to be a mommy and general lawer after being raped by a serial rapist that she (earlier in the series) failed to put away. There was more to it than that, but overall, it left a bad taste in my mouth.
I don’t recall any romance that I’ve read recently that proselytized being a career woman as a be all and end all, so to get the opposite angle undiluted like that… I wonder if this is going to be a trend? There has been a bit of a pendulum swing lately, I believe, so maybe this reflects that.
I have to say, I’ve never once glanced around my mosh pit of a car with its piles of toys, crumbs, safety seats, blankies and food stains, sighed with satisfaction and thought ‘This is why I had children!’. WTF is with that? Is Kristy demented?
I wholeheartedly agree as to the aforementioned appeal of yummy cover boy. Growl.
Please let me know what you think of it. That brother and his new wife are peripheral characters in this book and seem like nice people. But, she’s got 2 children so I’m a little leery of buying the book.
I was just stunned when I read it. This has been known for how many years? Enough that this mistake should never have been made.
Whoa. That bit about the serial rapist book would ick me out too.
I just read another book that has a similar bad mommy=gold digger female character and I commented in my review (which hasn’t been posted yet) that I wonder if this is a trend. I hope not.
LOL. Now see, I have a mosh pit of a car without children. It just has dog hair and doggie nose prints on the back windows!
I’ve read all three of the Creed books, but can’t say they’re particularly good. The harping on the Creed legacy, I think, is an attempt to build a family mythology in the way that is in the McKettrick books, and those deal with at least a few generations, so it doesn’t seem as clumsily done.
The pro-baby thing, I’m sad to say, is pretty prevalent in most of Linda Lael Miller books, though I don’t think I’ve noticed as much demonizing of people who don’t particularly want babies.
The one thing that bugged me about this trilogy was that it seemed like a plot arc was being set up around the election of a sheriff, and Jim whatshisname in particular, which wasn’t then developed.
On the whole, to be blunt, the series didn’t seem like enough time was put into the writing.
God, yes. There was a Springwater series she did that made the mind boggle at all the stuff going on’ in that town.
The author’s McKettrick’s series had brothers too — maybe cousins? –and they were also all B- or C+ books. Nothing spectacular but not wall-bangers.
I’m so surprised about the mommy-dream thing in the story. I would think at this point female writers especially would have recognized that one woman’s dream is another woman’s idea of I-don’t-freakin-think-so.
(Since I haven’t mentioned Eve & Roarke & J D Robb in the past ten minutes can I say how I thought that in one of the In Death stories I thought the author was going to give them an adopted older child and how beautifully Roberts/Robb handled them not wanting/needing a child in their lives?)
You’re kidding me? WTF? Is that because of what happened at the end of the “Dylan” book? I got the impression that his opponent for the job might drop out but then….nothing?
Oh dear, oh dearie dear. Well, I’ll read the last one anyway and let that be my guide as to whether or not to continue with her books.
@ Sami….right back at you! My trashed out car looks the same and then lets throw in two kids with ADHD 5 years apart…damn I feel old. But I do love LLM I just like her old stuff better, especially when she was writing for Tapestry.
About the kids thing: I’m right in the middle of glomming SEP (and thank you everybody here and at SB’s for continuously recommending SEP because-holyshitcow, is she great) and every single book has an epilogue with children. It’s kind of annoying and yet-she’s such a great writer that I’ve been overlooking it. But yeah, I’ve been noticing this baby trend as well…and I’m not real happy about it.
I hate it when an “infertile” character ends up pregnant (SEP did that one). It was a good book otherwise, but I tend to think that there are plenty of ways to make a character think she can’t have them without MIRACLE PREGNANCY as an ending.
I was looking around Wikipedia (I think?) at the entry for the In Death series and it said that Nora plans to eventually end the series with Eve being pregnant. I cannot imagine why she would go there with that character at all. Why the heck would those two with their histories and occupations want to?!
I hope what it was that N.R. said Eve having a baby would put an end to the In Death series. That’s what I thought I read in her comments at one time but where or when or even if it was she who addressed it is all dim in my little brain.
I do remember thinking that it made sense since a baby would change the entire balance of Eve’s life as a cop, which is the series.
I would much rather see the author end the series with Eve making Captain rather then having a baby. (and Roarke becoming King)
(plus, they’ve got that most wonderful cat!)
(sorry for thread hi-jacking)
It’s so interesting to read others viewpoints.
I am one of those people that just wanted to be a mom when I grew up. That was my career aspiration. I’m only 36, so I’m weird for my age group I know.
Because of where I am coming from I love baby epilogues and books with kids in them. Those are real to me because that is my reality. My worldview so to speak. I don’t “get” people that don’t want kids, BUT when a character decides they are better off with kids, I don’t immediately get annoyed at the book. I don’t understand but I can still read the book.
I’m asking this as an honest question. Not snarky or anything, I promise!!
Is it that the books ends with kids that bothers you that choose not to have kids or is it a feeling that you are being judged because you are not having children? If it fits with the characters and their personalities, I’m not getting why it would bother you. Honest question!!
We women can be very hard on each other. Working moms are selfish. Stay-at-home moms are lazy. If you don’t breastfeed your kid you are wrong…..etc etc. I don’t get that. I have friends that say they are better moms because they DO work outside the home. I believe them! I chose to stay at home but not because I’m lazy but because I felt it was the best choice for MY family (not everyone’s). I chose to breastfeed. My sister-in-law didn’t. I certainly don’t think she’s an inferior mom because of that.
I think that if someone doesn’t want kids, then they shouldn’t have them. We had neighbors growing up that were awful parents. Pretty much ignored their kids. Admitted they had kids only “because that’s what you do when you get married” niiiice. Their kids knew that and it messed them up.
Aaaaanyway, all that to say that people need to choose what is right for them.
Re: Eve and Roarke. I can see those two adopting an older child (I’m thinking pre-teen, teenager here) with a background similar to theirs, but not having a baby of their own.
It doesn’t bother me unless it’s written in a manner which implies that there’s something wrong wtih a couple if they decide not to have kids. It’s the implication that a couple is incapable of having an HEA if they don’t spawn.
As someone who’s been happily married (and childless by choice) for almost twenty years, that attitude royally chafes my ass.
Well, if both characters want kids and that’s their happy ending, fine. I don’t really care one way or the other if they have them, it is not mandatory to me that they do and it’s not an unhappy ending if they don’t. (Same in real life.)
What does bug me are books where everyone is completely foaming-at-the-mouth to be a parent, judging the hell out of those who might not, or those who might not being horrible caricatures of people.
I don’t get wanting kids in the way that you don’t get not wanting them, but I can accept that people do. On the other hand, there are a lot of parents who not only don’t get why we don’t, but throw big fits and insist to our faces that we WILL want kids, that we will be forced to have them, and that we are destined to burn in hell if we don’t want to become mothers.
So to answer your question: yes, it is the judging. You can have two characters who want kids having kids without attacking people who don’t want them. Some of us have physical issues, or would make horrible parents (count me in both of those categories), or just plain never felt drawn to doing so. And as you said, why have them just because everyone else said you had to? How sad is that for the kids that weren’t wanted and were just had to fulfill the social quota?
@ Tracey S
I have no issues with the hero/heroine being very family oriented, but it bothers me when it’s presented as the only way to be be ‘fulfilled’ whether that’s explicit in the text, or implicit, as seen in books where each and every happy couple want / have kids.
I actually enjoy the shamelessly schmoopy baby epilogues (despite it not being my thing) if I don’t feel like I’m being preached at.
Jennifer, I just finished that SEP last night; which is why this topic seemed so fortuitious. And I kind of figured, knowing SEP’s tropes now, when the infertility issue came up in the book, that she was going to be pregnant anyway.
Tracey: It’s a concern for me because I’ve started to see a resurgent trend in contemporaries for the HEA to include marriage and kids. I kind of feel like we’re starting to backslide into the 50’s, where a woman’s worth (in Romancelandia anyway) is strictly weighed on her marriage and number of children. While that may NOT be the norm of the people reading romances, and maybe not even romance authors, I think it still behooves us to discuss the issue, because it’s there; or at least picking up steam.
What I’d be interested in knowing, from the authors, is if they’re getting pressure from the publishers to include marriage and kids in their HEAs…
okay. The way you ladies in comments #19-#22 explain it make sense. You don’t mind the babies if it fits in and it’s not regarded as the only way to do things and if you (the reader) don’t agree there is something wrong with you.
I get that, because I’ve read books that basically said that if you choose to stay home with your kids and not pursue a huge career, then there is something wrong with you and I’ve bristled at that. So, if you are being told your choice is wrong you will bristle too. It’s not the kids per se, it’s the attitudes surrounding them in the book. Just like I don’t mind women having high powered careers, but just don’t tell me there is something wrong with me if I don’t aspire to that.
Thanks for explaining it to me. I don’t know why I didn’t see it like that before because that makes total sense to me now. I must have been undercaffeinated earlier! LOL
Whoa! Sorry someone ever made you feel that way. That thought process is scary!
@Jayne: Oh, no! Don’t let this series decide you on Linda Lael Miller! That would be like letting Pavarotti’s duets with pop starts deciding you on whether you’re going to like opera. Read the Mojo Sheepshanks books or something. These are just not her best work.
As for the Sheriff thing, in the first book, there was this dire psychic warning to Logan (I think) to stay uninvolved in the election, and it seemed like there was going to be some confrontation regarding more racist elements of the community. The events that caused the other guy to drop out didn’t seem to warrant the way the warning was framed, so it didn’t really make sense to me. I also would have liked more closure on the relationship between Jim and his ex-wife who seemed to be moving a bit toward reconciliation.
Edited to add: On Amazon, the third book is getting brutal ratings. I think some of the reviews are a little on the hysterical side, but I can’t say I really disagree with the overall ratings. I read it because I’m a “clean your plate” kind of gal – it’s hard for me not to finish a series, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.
Tracey, I was away from my computer for most of the day or I would have answered as Jennifer and FD did. I don’t mind books with children if the children are realistic. And that, as I said in this review, can mean being both sweet and a terror.
I can skip baby filled, overly goopy epilogues if they annoy me and be fine with the knowledge that a couple is having them and are over the moon when the children arrive in their lives. But…and this is what really got me in this book, I don’t want to be judged as being bad, sad, pathetic, insert whatever negative word you care to, because I don’t have children and don’t want them. And that was the feeling I got from this book. Plus the fact that Dylan’s ex-lover who doesn’t want their child became a negative character.
Miller could have taken her and portrayed her as a woman who wasn’t cut out to be a parent, realized it and did the right thing by signing over custody to Dylan and Kristy who will love the girl and be great parents. Instead, Sharlene becomes a shallow, money grubbing whore who – seemingly – thoughlessly gives up her child for cash (after having milked Dylan for money througout the child’s life so far).
That’s awful too. I have two friends who are stay at home moms. That’s what they wanted to do and I’m thrilled for them that they can do just that. Putting someone down for a choice they made about their life just makes no sense to me.
I do recall that in the discussion of one of Jane’s reviews, more than one author said she had been pressured by editors to include children in the story because that’s what the readers want. I can’t remember which review it was off the top of my head but I’ll poke around tomorrow and see if I can locate it.
So we don’t even get that? WTF? Then why even hint at that in book 2? Sigh…I would have been looking for that when I read book 3.
Alright, so I’ve read book #1 finally (Logan), and it seems quite similar in the ‘wholesome’ family, let’s make babies kind of way. Also Logan is RETIRED rodeo, and there’s not a hint of the rodeo life that I so badly wanted to see here. I also was bummed that all the beautiful descriptive language used in the first third kind of goes away and then the stuff with her ex gets weird and at times I couldn’t figure out all her reasoning.
It hit a few hot buttons – including the ‘insta-love’ (engaged within week or two) because… she wouldn’t want to live with him out of wedlock. She’ll bang him on his couch after a few days of knowing him, but living ‘in sin’ would be wrong?
Despite some snark-attack moments though I did like it, and of course some of the unresolved plot lines (who trashed Briana’s place? Will the brothers buddy up??) have my fingers itching to see this trilogy through.
So I wrote up my thoughts on Logan & posted on my blog. But more interesting – way more interesting than that is that I’ve been surfing fan/reader reviews on book #3 (Tyler) and they’re really like the opposite of the book #1 “oooh I love LLM, she rules” reviews. hmmm.
I hope if you read it that you review it here, because I’d love to read your thoughts.
As the thread got onto the issue of kids in the HEA, I wanted to quickly plug a harlequin I recently read called “Falling for Mr Dark and Dangerous” by Donna Alward. Not only was the heroine in her 40s and older than the hero who was in his 30s (nice for a change), the couple made a choice that they wouldn’t have kids together (sorry about the spoiler). The heroine DID have a teenage daughter from a previous marriage, but the hero didn’t and he was fine with never procreating.
Thought I’d mention as I appreciated the freshness of this approach and know these kinds of books tend to be few and far between. It might be worth a look for those interested.
Yes, yes, yes. I wanted to see this too. I’m on a rodeo kick lately which is what initially got me interested in trying Dylan’s book. I ended up feeling like a child promised a treat that ultimately didn’t materialize.
I hate insta-engagement. Insta-lust I can believe in but being ready to commit my life to someone I’ve just met? Ummmm, no. Give me a little while to get to know his quirks and life views. And why the hesitation about living together? If you’re going to fuck him like a bunny then you’re already swimming in sin, ya know? At least living together would show you’ve got a tentative committment.
Oh Sami, thanks for that rec! I’ll have to check it out.
my. sentiments. exactly.
I did an insta-engagement once in real life. I do not EVER recommend doing this, though I guess it wouldn’t have mattered if I were in a romance novel. At least I didn’t do a quickie elopement :P
I will admit I picked up Logan’s book, believing Linda Lael Miller only wrote historical Western. Not that anyone had told me that, but when I had read her lo those many years ago, that’s what’s she wrote. So I was already disappointed in the book when Logan was driving a truck. I should have stopped there.
Then we had all of those choppy sentences. I like flowing sentences, so that turned me off too. They felt incomplete to me and jerked me out of the story. Once I discovered it was the next month, I was stalled in the middle and only taking it along to doctor appointments, I gave up. The customers at the store and people on message boards are raving. I would have probably have given it a D if I had forced my way through.
Hey, I will give this gal a straight up “A” on most of her books. I come from that culture, and she puts it out there quite well. I read and am entertained. She knows her “cattle ranch” stuff. She can discribe a cattleman and all his strengths and weaknesses. She has a good grasp of how relationship dynamics develop in those “antiquated” cultural islands. Those of you who are not into the reading to gain some insight into old retained values stated by Ms. Miller in her McKittrick novels and her Creed novels, just enjoy….chill out….relax. Sometimes its fun to cruise the cultural highways and byways of our multi-mixed nation.
lutra, I suggest you google MoffÂ´s Law.