When 17-year-old Dominique Vasquez volunteers to go with gambler John Trent in return for enough gold coins to let her father pay off his bank debt, she rides away from the only life she’s ever known in California and into a new existence as the wife of a cattle rancher in the Oregon Territory. All she takes with her is her mother’s Bible, a few clothes, and the prayer that she’s made the right choice.
Years pass, and John and Nicki build a life for themselves on a 5,000-acre spread of prime grazing range with easy access to the local river. Although it’s not the life Nicki had dreamed of for herself, she has her son Sawyer to occupy her time and keep loneliness at bay when her husband is out riding the ranch’s perimeter.
All that changes the day he falls to his death while out on a ride. William Harpster, the attentive neighbor who has been a good friend to the family for several years, offers both his condolences and his hand in marriage to the young widow. Nicki, uneasy with his proposal, requests time to consider it.
In the end, she decides to make a go of the ranch on her own and advertises for a new foreman. Jason Jordan, a young man with both law enforcement and cattle driving experience, answers the ad despite his uncertainty about making the move across the mountains from his family hometown.
When Jason arrives at the Hanging T ranch, he finds rundown buildings, a ramshackle corral, and a beautiful young ranch owner clearly in need of his help. He also discovers far more sinister goings-on behind the scenes in the region, which threaten the lives and livelihoods of his new employer and her neighbors.
I’m not generally a fan of westerns or historical fiction, and until recently I’ve shied away from romances. However, Lynnette skillfully weaves three of my least favorite genres into a novel I thoroughly enjoyed reading. So much so, in fact, that I intend to backtrack to Rocky Mountain Oasis, the first book in the series, as soon as I have the free time to read it.
Her extensive research into the customs, history and geography of her setting is evident and is presented in an engaging way instead of an information dump. Her descriptions are vivid and give just enough detail to let you visualize the scene without becoming slowed down by it. The characters are well developed and elicit the responses they should, whether it’s connection or unease. The action is heart-pounding, and so is the romantic tension.
I definitely recommend High Desert Haven. It is a story readers of both Janette Oke and Larry McMurtry can appreciate. There’s plenty of great story telling to satisfy both the menfolk and the womenfolk.
About the Author
(From the author’s Amazon page)
Born and raised in Malawi, Africa. Lynnette Bonner spent the first years of her life reveling in warm equatorial sunshine and the late evening duets of cicadas and hyenas. The year she turned eight she was off to Rift Valley Academy, a boarding school in Kenya where she spent many joy-filled years, and graduated in 1990.
That fall, she traded to a new duet–one of traffic and rain–when she moved to Kirkland, Washington to attend Northwest University. It was there that she met her husband and a few years later they moved to the small town of Pierce, Idaho.
During the time they lived in Idaho, while studying the history of their little town, Lynnette was inspired to begin the Shepherd’s Heart Series with Rocky Mountain Oasis.
Marty and Lynnette have four children, and currently live in Washington where Marty pastors a church.