Maria de la Guerra came to live at Rancho los Alamitos after her sister, Delores, married Warren Jerry its owner. Maria really had no place to go as her father committed suicide after losing their family ranch and her mother had already moved in with her other married sister. Delores’s offer was welcomed and Maria thought nothing about the following 9 years that she spent running the household and taking care of Delores and Warren’s son, Luis.
Delores was originally Warren son, Rafe’s girlfriend. Rafe had dreams of marrying her but when he finds her in bed with his father, Warren and Rafe argue and Rafe vows to never return. Delores finds herself pregnant and Warren does the honorable thing and marries her. However, he regrets his actions and while he gives Delores money, he doesn’t give her the love and attention she craves. Nor does he pay attention to the son that came out of this union. Delores expects to inherit the ranch when Warren dies but gets the unexpected news that she will only get an allowance. Maria and Rafe will be Luis’s guardian and Rafe and Luis will jointly inherit the ranch. If Rafe refuses, the ranch will become a park.
Rafe never intended returning to his family ranch. He carved a good life for himself in Texas working on a friend’s ranch. He has grown to hate Delores and wants nothing to do with her. He hopes to meet with the family lawyer and have the will contested so he can leave this part of his life behind forever. What he didn’t expect was to be attracted to Delores’s younger sister. Can he put his distrust of Delores aside long enough to see if Maria has the same morals or lack of morals that Delores has? How can he turn his back on a much younger brother who looks up at him like he can do no wrong? And who is it that is trying to kill him? Those bullets and loose bulls weren’t just an accident. Someone is getting serious about doing away with Rafe!
This is a sweet historical romance set just after the Civil War. It seems that it might be part of a series of books concerning a group of Confederate soldiers. There were several references to soldiers that were in the same unit as Rafe and their current lives as if they were still close and in communication with each other. Still, this book can definitely be read alone and be enjoyed.
The characters while interesting seemed to be almost cookie cutter. That is to say, Rafe was the hero who while not perfect could do so many things better than everyone else. The people who work the ranch look up to him for guidance even though he has not been on the ranch for ten years. Delores is given the part of the evil sister, which she plays to perfection. She cares only about herself and doesn’t care who gets hurt in the process. Maria is the naïve younger sister who has never been kissed or been out with a man. She does her best but is scared of things like riding a horse. Though the characters are written in a predictable fashion they have enough depth in their characters as to not be flat or uninteresting.
While this could have been a straight forward love story there is a bit of a mysterious twist in it making the reader wonder who is the real bad guy! It is obvious almost right away that the bad guy Rafe thinks it is, isn’t doing all the mischief. This leads you to wonder that if he isn’t who is. This question doesn’t get answered to almost the end of the book keeping the reader wondering if there is some character that they are missing or some clue that is being overlooked only to find that all the answers were right there in front of them.
Don’t expect any lurid love scenes or violent language. While sex is mentioned and happens, there is no graphic descriptions nor does it happen except between those characters with a relationship. Language is kept at a PG level. I would have no problems letting a high school girl read this book.
Don’t mistake sweet historical for bland story. This story is not bland. It’s just a nice story.
At nineteen, Rafe Jerry had discovered the woman he adored in bed with another lover—his father. Ordered off the family’s California ranch, he swore never to return and ran away to war. The harsh realities of battle had made a crack soldier of him, but a traitor in the ranks had turned him into a man to be feared. He would not rest until he achieved…
Rafe rode for California with two goals—tracking down Laveau di Viere and breaking his father’s will. He would never run Rancho los Alamitos for the beautiful yet treacherous widow; he would not help to raise his vulnerable young half brother; he refused to give in to his longing for Maria de la Guerra, the first woman to touch his hardened heart. But with Laveau on the attack and all he held most dear at risk, Rafe realized the one thing he could not fight was… Love