In the second volume of Ross’ trio of pioneer romances, a headstrong girl in 1891 Big Sur country carves out her own destiny against the edicts of her strict father and the censure of her small, rigid community.
Blaze Allan has always been a dutiful daughter, hardworking and devoted to her family, especially her autocratic but beloved father, Zande. But when Zande decrees that she will marry a local rancher, Blaze feels the first stirrings of rebellion—especially after she meets an exciting newcomer while riding her family’s land. As she realizes she wants more from life than the path her parents set for her, Blaze’s small mutinies culminate in her innocently meeting a local boy at a deserted cave near the beach. After the two are stranded by the tide, the boy dies trying to swim for safety and save her reputation; yet Blaze finds herself ostracized and condemned by the tight-knit community—including her own family. She sets out on her own to look for a new life in Monterey. But when she’s offered everything she thought she ever wanted, Blaze questions whether she’ll let her pride stand in the way of her future. Ross has a gift for taking a minimal plotline and buoying it with a complex, well-drawn protagonist. Character development sustains Ross’ book and contributes to its impact, exemplified by the complex internal dilemmas of rigid Zande’s willful, independent yet conscientious daughter as she struggles to balance her own desires against her duty and society’s strictures. Ross’ realistic, compelling picture of the difficult lives faced by Big Sur pioneers contrasts sharply with the more modern society of 1890s Monterey. Yet the novel truly shines as a snapshot into the societal mores of the time, as strong-minded Blaze fights to assert herself as a woman in a world that relegates her gender to second class.
An engaging coming-of-age tale of a girl discovering herself, love and her own worth.