This novel centers on ranch and family life in the New Mexico Territory in the late 1800s. The father wants his three adult children to love each other and take pride in the family ranch. How he determines to do that and the siblings' responses make for a good story.
The novel opens with the father, a son, and a few other hands going after a stray bull. Entering a narrow canyon, a sudden rockfall injures Chance, the father. Heath, a hired hand, sets the man's leg and stems the bleeding, saving his life. Chance is taken to Denver for treatment but demands his latest will be read soon. Heath does so and the siblings are shocked. They must live and work on the ranch for one year or the entire place will go to a despicable cousin.
This is a fun novel that combines humor and suspense. Heath discovers that the avalanche was no accident and it seems someone is trying to run them off their property. In the midst of the escalating tension, Connealy adds a scene with some humor. It ends up being a good mix.
The book is a good study in relationships too. The siblings have a little difficulty getting along. They are angry that their father would make such a demand of them. But they despise their cousin even more so end up working together. I really like Sadie. She is a compassionate woman who can ride a horse hard and rock climb a sheer cliff. What a gal.
I like to learn something when I read fiction and in this novel is was about the possession of land in the New Mexico Territory. Original possession was from Spanish land grants. The Mexican-American War resulted in various treaties and agreements so that the territory became property of the U.S. The New Mexico Territory had applied for statehood in 1850, but 30 years later, as our novel takes place, they were still waiting. I also learned a bit about the Pueblo and their culture.
I recommend this novel to readers who enjoy a western centering around family relationships. There's some good suspense and romance included. Connealy's writing style makes this novel a pleasant one to read.
My rating: 4/5 stars.
Mary Connealy writes inspirational romantic comedy. She has won the Carol Award and has been a finalist for the Rita, Christy and Inspirational Reader's Choice Award finalist. She is married to a Nebraska rancher. They have four adult daughters and several grandchildren.
Bethany House Publishers, 304 pages.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.