From the blurb:
Here is a story of passion and conflict, set against the primitive backdrop of the early American southwest--and featuring the smoldering conflict between two brothers, one privileged, one denied by his ancestry of his rightful heritage, and both struggling to possess the same woman.
Maria Espinosa, a lovely young Spanish girl, born to one of Mexico City's wealthiest families, finds herself orphaned and penniless when the cholera epidemic of 1679 claims the lives of her parents. From this shattering moment begins the story of her struggle for survival in a harsh land and her discovery of personal worth and identity.
Traveling to Santa Fe to her only living relative, Maria is the only one to survive a brutal massacre by a band of Apache Indians. Rebuffed by her sister for the lack of a dowry, Maria is taken in by Diego Masferrer, a young ranchero whom she falls in love with, but then finds herself torn between her love for Diego and his half-Indian brother.
Here is a story of familial love and conflict, rich in historical authenticity, created by a natural storyteller.
As a reader of historical novels, Im often reminded how hard life was for those who lived in the 1800s New World. However, this novel shows on every page just how dicey life was for those who lived here in the 1680s.
This is not an easy book to read; although a readers attention is snagged quickly, the dangers of life in this area of New Mexico are almost overwhelming. Before the end of the second chapter, our heroine, Maria Espinosa, has cheated death on two occasions: She survived the 1679 cholera epidemic in Mexico City and was the only survivor after Apaches attacked a Santa Fe-bound caravan in which Maria was traveling.
It will be a long time before I forget this book; the nature of the difficult terrain and the brooding anger of the indigenous peoples against their oppressors blended together to create an almost impossibly inhospitable climate.
Young Diego has inherited the leadership role at the Masferrer hacienda. Eking a living from such a barren country is difficult in the best of times, but Diego is fighting drought and unrest amongst the Indian population. He does not understand the discontent because he sees himself as a benevolent father to his Indian children.
Cristobol is the illegitimate son of Diegos father and Diegos mothers Indian maid. Because he is Indian, Cristobol cannot inherit land or property from his white father. Diego is a few months older than his half-brother; the conflict between Diego and Cristobol is fascinating.
I was thankful that this book was only 270 pages; this book has so much emotion spilling off the pages that I was relieved when it ended. This is a remarkable story.
Not for the faint of heart! This is no warm and fuzzy, feel good romance. It's interesting, well-written, and very different from Kelly's typical books, but be forewarned that it has several dark themes and contains some fairly graphic violence. It is appropriate for the context, but know what you're signing up to read.
Carla Kelly fans take note - this book is not at all like her Signet Regency's. Based on her own words it is written in a very different way. Many of her books have found their way to my keeper shelf, but this is one I'm passing on. It was different enough that I didn't find it as gripping or enjoyable as I did some of her others.
Not for the faint of heart! This is no warm and fuzzy, feel good romance. It's interesting and very different from Kelly's typical books, but be forewarned that it has several dark themes and contains some fairly graphic violence. It is appropriate for the context, but know what you're signing up to read.