Everyone’s favorite cowgirl, Benni Harper, seems about to have her heart’s desire: to see her best friend, Elvia Aragon, married to her cousin Emory and her Grandma Dove married to longtime love Isaac Lyons. Benni and her husband Gabriel Ortiz, San Celinas’s handsome chief of police, are about to move into their first new home together. But amid the whirl of gown-fittings and bridal showers, Benni’s world falls apart when Gabe becomes entangled with a woman from his past: Delilah Hernandez, his partner from his days as an LAPD undercover cop. As Gabe and Del draw closer, Benni retreats, moving into their newly bought house alone and immersing herself in the job given her by Edna McClun, of the local historical society: cataloguing the belongings of Maple Bennett Sullivan, who disappeared from her San Celinas home 50 years ago, leaving her husband Garvey shot to death upstairs. Exploring the Sullivans’ tragic marriage serves as a distraction, but also prompts Benni to reconsider her relationship with Gabe, and she ponders questions of love, loyalty, and temptation. The greatest temptation of all, however, may be to let her guard down and give in to the flirtatious attentions of Hudson Ford, a sheriff’s detective with a lazy southern drawl and an uncanny knack for reading Benni’s mind.
Fowler (Arkansas Traveler, 2001, etc.) wants to tread the dangerous ground of self-examination but refuses to take any real risks as Benni, reinforced by constant evidence of her own desirability, emerges from her ordeal no different from before.