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Upon the death of her mother, Esther Chambers moves West to Central Oregon at the invitation of distant cousin Ferris Pickett (Pick). Pick is a cattle rancher, and he wants Esther to homestead a recently abandoned piece of land adjacent to his own ranch. Esther settles in to her new home and the community, but things are getting a bit heated – those cattle ranchers do not like the men raising the sheep. Not. One. Bit. Life gets even more complicated for Esther when Pick asks for her hand, yet she’s developed a certain attraction to Ben Cruff, one of those sheepherders Pick and his men loathe so much.

I’ve been really struggling trying to rate this book, and please note that my rating is based more on how much I enjoyed reading this, and not directed to the writing itself, which was lovely. I love Western history and I adore Central Oregon, so I should have been all over this like a cat with cream – but I wasn’t. I could always put this down, walk away and not feel the rush to come back, and frankly ended up reading this at the gym 40 minutes a day whilst doing my cardio. This book was written in the present tense (3rd person), and I found it very distracting – especially with such a large cast of secondary characters. I think I would have done better if there had been a character listing to refer back to, and I’m hoping they put one in the final editions. As for the story itself, I struggled as much following it as I did with the characters and felt quite lost at times. Things really didn’t seem to happen until the very last 50 or so pages.

There was lots of gorgeous writing, but not much substance underneath it – at least not for me. YMMV. I am beginning to suspect that literary fiction and I are not fated to be constant companions. Four stars for the writing, three stars for a so-so story making this a 3.5/5 star rating.

Reviewed for Amazon Vine.

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