In this early-20th-century drama, a teenager sets off in search of her long-lost mother.
In 1906, Ida Roeder is nearly killed in an earthquake in San Francisco. She’s separated from her husband and daughter and suffers from amnesia but is cared for by an altruistic stranger, Jamie. She moves with him to Idaho, takes on the name Liz—she can’t recall her own—and only remembers her former life in hazy scraps. Meanwhile, her husband, Bruno, who has believed her dead for five years, leaves New Mexico for Idaho when he discovers evidence she’s alive. Emma, Ida and Bruno’s 15-year-old daughter, exasperated she is left behind, decamps for Idaho on her own. Two of her best friends, Juan and Wolfe, join her on the journey, each harboring his own unexpressed romantic devotion to her, touchingly captured by Haag (Gone to Texas, 2016). Emma learns that her father is badly injured in an accident and has drifted into a coma. She rushes to be by his side, where she encounters Liz, who’s drawn to Bruno for reasons she’s still unprepared to fully fathom. And Jamie, who suspects that Bruno is her husband, moves him into his own home for medical care despite the deep love he feels for Liz. Jamie’s best friend, Dillon, warns him that he’s setting himself up for inevitable heartache, but he also becomes enchanted by Liz. His affection pits him against Jamie as a romantic rival. This second installment in the New Mexico Gal series is a complex but emotionally affecting family story. Haag artfully weaves together several romantically charged plotlines, and the tale hustles forward at a lively pace. But she tries to cram too much into a short novel, and those entanglements can feel frivolously soap-operatic. In addition, the prose can be torturously earnest. At one point, Jamie muses about Liz: “How old might the lady be? he wondered. Perhaps younger by a couple of years, judging from her firm and desirable body. Hey, wait a minute, his brain said. Are you lusting? No! You can’t be, his inner voice answered.”
A tender but somewhat cloying romantic tale.