A young widow confronts the family her late husband denied he had.
During the six months they were married, Cole McGavin told his wife Ruby that his family had died in a traffic accident outside Bakersfield. But it’s Cole whose truck is found at the bottom of a ravine off Ortega Highway, leaving Ruby to discover a will leaving her one-fourth of the Circle MG Ranch in Cardinal. Bearing an urn with Cole’s ashes, she leaves Southern California for the high desert, not knowing what to expect from the kinfolk he’s left very much alive. His aunt Birch, who loved Cole far better than his distant mother June did, treats Ruby kindly even before she knows who she is, offering her the best room at the Tokopah Lodge, which she owns with her half-Mexican, half-Paiute-Shoshone husband Bobby Hernandez. And brother Lucas, who took over Cole’s saddlery when his law practice brought him too close to the dark side of humanity, also finds himself drawn to the lonely widow, even though his mother warns him that her claim on the ranch could bankrupt the Circle MG. But it’s Cole’s longtime friends Ely Grey and Lincoln Holyoke who tell Ruby about Cole’s past, revealing the dark secret of the man she loved but barely knew.
The creator of Benni Harper (Delectable Mountains, 2005, etc.) has produced a lovely crossover novel, a family tale with flair and heart.