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Country Strong

(Painted Pony Creek #1)

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  248 ratings  ·  57 reviews
Don’t miss Country Strong, the first book in Linda Lael Miller’s brand-new Painted Pony Creek series about three best friends whose strength, honor and independence exemplify the Montana land they love.

Coming soon in early 2020!
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published January 21st 2020 by HQN
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Average rating 3.54  · 
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Ann Lorz
Reviewed for Romancing the Readers Blog:

It's been a while since I've had a new Linda Lael Miller to read. She's one of my favorite authors that I always say is a comfort read for me. I usually read her contemporaries over her historical's but I'm sure historical readers would enjoy them.

I was so happy to see her having a new series out. I couldn't wait to read it. This being a new series we have all new characters to fall in love with.

We are introduced to three childhood
R Rais
Dec 18, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you #netgalley and #HARLEQUIN - Romance (U.S. & Canada) for the eARC.

It's been a long while since I read from this author. Got excited to read this book from the blurb. But unfortunetly from the first chapter it was a struggle to read it.

A good premise when a girl, who look so much like the girl that once torn this three men friendship, come in the middle of the rain and claimed one of them is her father.

But then the monologue. It's so long and boring and dragging my feet to skip
Dec 02, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was excited to get this book as I've always enjoyed books by this author in the past. Unfortunately, this one was difficult to read. I hate to write negative reviews, and find it difficult to critique a writer, as I am not one. However, as I promised to give an honest review in exchange for the eARC ... I found the dialogue between the characters to be poorly written, as if written by an amatuer. The writing was choppy and made it difficult to connect with the characters - most specifically ...more
Kari Hansen
Jan 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cord, Eli and J.P have been best friends since they were children except for that short period of time as teenagers when unknown to each other they were all dating the same girl, Reba. When the truth was revealed Reba left town and after some hard feelings they mended their relationship. Years later Carly, a teenager, shows up in town and claims that Reba is her mother and that one of them is her father.

Shallie was friends with the three men when she was in high school but her feelings for Cord
Kate Vale
First in the Painted Pony Creek series, in which the three men who are best friends are introduced even as the focus remains on Cord Hollister, who trains horses and is developing a therapy practice with abused and abandoned horses.

When Shallie Fletcher arrives to learn from him so that she can become a partner in a therapeutic riding program for children near Seattle, she doesn't immediately reveal that she had several reasons for coming to Painted Pony Creek, but soon her upbringing is
Feb 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first book in a new trilogy by LLM about 3 friends who grew up together in the small Montana town of Painted Pony Creek. When they were at the end of their senior year in high school, Rancher Cord Hollister, sheriff Eli Garrett and veteran J. P. McCall allowed a woman, Reba come between them, when she played them all, but she left town and eventually they managed to rescue their friendship. Years have passed, but it turns out that Reba wasn't finished with them.

Cord wakes up one
Feb 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was different from big Sky series. Love her writing , this book was different in the romance area. It showed that linda Lael Miller is writer that doesn't write with the same tone as the other books that she has written. She is more creative writer , at the same time makes you not want to put down the book. I can't wait until Country proud comes out.
Ellen Anderson
Feb 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Country Strong

Linda Lael Miller has always been able to touch me through her remarkable stories and this one is no exception. It played into my favorite saying; everything happens for a reason. Seems all it took for things to come full circle was just one person. With the list of exceptional characters in this book, we just have to figure out who it starts with. I think I'll choose Reba. Enjoy yourself a really good book and give this one a read.
Sue Gosland
This is a lovely, warm romance by one of my favorite authors. She writes wonderful cowboy stories, full of honorable men and women living in small Montana towns. Linda Lael Miller has wonderful Characters who are open, warm and loving. It's not always reality, but seeing the best in a small town is a specialty of Linda's. I really enjoyed this one, the story of Cord and Shallie, as well as second chances, which is the theme of this series. I really enjoyed it.
Karen Hackett
Jan 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Linda Lael Miller’s Country Strong is the first book of the Painted Pony Creek series. It starts with the arrival of a girl who is a spitting image of a woman who broke Cord Hollister’s heart. Her shocking secret upends his orderly life. As the story progresses, Shallie Fletcher arrives in Painted Pony Creek because of an opportunity to partner with a therapeutic riding program for kids. She seeks to take lessons from Cord who trains horses. But she is there for another reason close to her ...more
Shavona Thompson
Jan 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The beginning of the book grabs you right away. The 3 main characters all thought they were seeing a ghost from their past and in essence, they were. It is a unique storyline and entertaining. However, I felt there were a few gaps in the story. Personally, I would never trust a juvenile delinquent dropout with the keys to an invalid lady's home even if he does swear to be remorseful. I also didn't quite believe how quickly Cord and Shallie were willing to forgive and forget being abandoned as ...more
Helen Williams
Jan 29, 2020 rated it liked it
This is the first book in a new series about three best friends anticipating news that will change their lives. Cord Hollister is a cowboy that trains horses on his Montana ranch. A young girl arrives in Painted Pony Creek with a shocking secret that will change the lives of Cord and his two best friends.

Shallie Fletcher has had a heartbroken life and is trying to reinvent herself and leave the past behind. An opportunity arises where she can partner with a therapeutic riding programs for kids.
Jo  (Mixed Book Bag)
Welcome to Painted Pony Creek where some very interesting characters live. Start with the one who shows up looking to find her three dads. Then there are the dads. Add another blast from the past and you have quite a mix. There was a lot of action in this first book of the series. At times the book seemed a little slow and I would thing everything was solved but then another problem would find its solution. All in all good start to a new series with 2 of the dads left to find an HEA.
Jan 25, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book. It was a heart warming quick read.
I was hooked by how the book started and the three men thought they were seeing a ghost of a girl all three dated at the same time in high school.
A number of the characters in the book did not have great parents and yet they were people that cared about others. There were a number of stories about people caring about their neighbors and their community
Kathleen Gray
Jan 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Carly wants to know the identity of her father. Her mother, Reba, had relationships with three men- Cord, Eli, and JP- and then she left town. Shallie, who also left, is back because she'd like Cord to train her so that she can participate in therapeutic riding for kids. Shallie never quite got over her sweetie Cord and you know the two of them will find their way to an HEA. That doesn't make the telling any less interesting, especially since Miller has wisely added the additional Carly plot ...more
Donna Repsher
For anyone who follows my book reviews, you already know that I tend to start at or near the end of a series, so I was eager to get in at the beginning of a new series, Painted Pony Creek, by a talented author I've been reading for years, Linda Lael Miller, and I wish I could say I was absolutely thrilled with this novel, but since it took me what seemed like forever to get through this book, the best I can do is give it 2.5 stars. It was sort of okay but left a lot to be desired, in my opinion. ...more
Jan 29, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: other-reviews
COUNTRY STRONG is a story that I found it hard to connect with. We follow Shallie and Cord in alternating sections. Shallie and Cord were BFFs, along with two other guys back when they were in high school. Shallie had a thing for Cord, but Cord was involved with Reba- who was also involved with his two male best friends, Eli and JP. Finding out that they had all fallen in love with and had been sleeping with the same woman tore them apart for a long time. Now, 18 years in the future, a ...more
MJ Symmonds
Jan 23, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was thrilled when I seen this book on NetGalley for review as I hadn't read a LLM book for many years. This was such a difficult read for me. I was so deeply disappointed in it. For me there was really no point to this story. It was very discombobulated and choppy in it's carry through of situations. Like the characters would be doing something and then it would just veer off onto something else without really finishing what had been going on in the first place. Way too many side characters ...more
Jan 05, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, earc
Shallie Fletcher had a crush on Cord Hollister years ago in high school but he only had eyes for her best friend Reba. Reba had her eyes not only on Cord but on his two best friends Eli and JP as well. When it all came to light she skipped town. Now years later Shallie is back in town at Cord's ranch to learn about training horses. Cord gets a surprise when someone who looks just like Reba but much younger shows up in town too. I have not read a Linda Lael Miller book in a long time. I was ...more
Feb 13, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have to say that this book took me by surprise and not in a good way. If I didn’t know better I would insist that Linda Lael Miller could not have written this book. Yes, it had a wonderful sense of community and lots of four legged friends with the usual comical characteristics we all love. There are several mysteries that are solved during the book that added suspense but where were the heartfelt scenes between characters that are built when they open their hearts and share their ...more
Jan 29, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really struggled to finish this book. The only reason I am giving it 2 stars is because I have read many of her books in the past that I have really enjoyed. I don’t feel as if the characters were well developed and their wasn’t any chemistry between Cord and Shallie. The relationship really just come out of the blue one minute she was working with him the next they were proposing to each other. You really did not get to know any or the “main” character in the book to build on for the next ...more
Jan 28, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was so disappointing and unacceptable for a seasoned author like LLM. There was just WAY too much going on in this one. Cord not knowing why his mom left and where she is, Shallie not knowing why her mom abandoned her and where she is not to mention who her father is, Carly not knowing which of the 3 friends is her dad, her youtube channel, her singing, etc etc. This was supposed to be a romance novel yet the "romance" felt like a complete afterthought. Hell their first love scene was ...more
Feb 18, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I give this story 3.5 stars. It was a sweet story of trying to overcome the past and live in the future. Cord Hollister ran a ranch that helped injured horses become helping aids to injured or handicapped people. Shallie Fletcher returned to Painted Pony Creek not only to learn from Cord but to rekindle an old flame. When Charlotte turns up in town looking exactly like his high school crush, things get very interesting. This is a story of healing and finding your roots. There was some problems ...more
Feb 17, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

No characters were actually developed. More internal talking to themselves than actual conversation. Lots of going places for nothing to happen. A lot of it hurt my head trying to figure out how real people would make the decisions they did in the book. What happened to Linda Lael Miller? No real romance. Skipped through the last half because it was so hard to care about any of it.
Feb 12, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This had to be the driest Linda Lael Miller story I’ve ever read. I really liked the storyline and the characters separately. Cord was a good guy, Shallie was a sweetheart, and all the guys and gals were great too. But, Cord & Shallie had very little chemistry, and the book read like a laundry list. I had to keep reading to find out how all the pieces fit together with the long lost family members. I’m hoping the next story about Eli will be better.
Peggy Wojcik
Feb 01, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This eagerly awaited book disappointed me. I really wanted to like the characters but they are one-dimensional and cardboard. The dialogue is sparse and uninteresting. The scenes are choppy. The story doesn't flow like every other Linda Lael Miller book she has published. In fact, I believe, the Montana Creeds would kick these characters out of the state. I hope the rest of the series actually reads like Ms Miller had really written them. This one doesn't read like she had.
Donna Smith
Not a Hit

I have read many many books of Ms. Miller. Have enjoyed all of them, especially the series books. This one was not even close to what I believe was her standard.
The character were flat and sappy. So predictable. I kept reading but never was engaged in anyone. I am assuming there will at least be two more books in Painted Pony Creek. I will probably read them and hope for the better.
I can only give this one a start dating of 3 and that is being g generous.
Deborah Small
I tried. I really did. I love LLM books but this one did not resonate with me. I found a lot of tell not show, and could not buy into the love story. For me, the buikd up and motivation wasn't there. I had to keep backtracking to see if I'd missed some critical moments that explained hero's decision she was his forever and her decision to jump his bones out of the blue. Also, aa loveable as the dog and large supporting cast was, I found them and their subsequent subplots all too much to wade ...more
Feb 02, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Linda Lael Miller has always been one of my favorite authors. I was very happy to see a new series from her. Unfortunately, this book was boring. It drug and drug. It took me a month to read it because I simply could not get into it. The characters were not interesting nor was the story line. I may or may not read the next two in the series.
Feb 02, 2020 rated it it was ok
Pleasant - but far from the author's best because it's highly repetitive (how many times does the backstory of the primary characters have to be re-told) and shallow. One minute Cord is realizing he needs to adopt a long-term perspective and find the right woman and the next minute (literally the next day) "this is forever."

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The daughter of a town marshal, Linda Lael Miller is a #1 New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of more than 100 historical and contemporary novels, most of which reflect her love of the West. Raised in Northport, Washington, Linda pursued her wanderlust, living in London and Arizona and traveling the world before returning to the state of her birth to settle down on a spacious property ...more

Other books in the series

Painted Pony Creek (2 books)
  • Country Proud (Painted Pony Creek #2)