An introverted wallflower living in the Wyoming of yesteryear learns that no woman is an island.
Protagonist Sarah Parker is about to lose her aspiring-cowboy son to the nearby Colby ranch. A hard-luck widow living on her deceased father-in-law’s property, Sarah is wary of gossip and strangers, favoring the company of her young friend Annie to walking around town or visits from charming men who may or may not have their eye on her land. Among the latter is Frank Colby, and it soon becomes apparent that Frank and Sarah are meant for each other. Thanks to their past hardships, however, they may never admit it. Sarah slowly begins to let in the outside world: enlisting help around the property from an American-Indian couple, befriending ranchers and reacquainting herself with the Colby family. As the more social Annie drifts away from her, Sarah also must weather the unpleasant speculation brought on by Annie’s new friends. Palmer’s world has a timeless quality, and it lacks the forced flourishes that other novels often contain. Rather than serving as mere local color or delivered as offhand observation, the details provide a further sense of the characters’ motivations and the fabric of their world. The good guys are so artfully layered that it’s a shame that the baddies don’t get similar treatment. A few passages of exposition, which emerge halfway through the novel, seem somewhat out of place.
Solid characters, extensive research and snappy dialogue transform a potentially hackneyed storyline–can the heroine open herself to love again?–into an buoyant page-turner.