Heiress to a vast Colorado cattle ranch, Diana Rennie means only to help her father by persuading Del Russell to leave town and never return. But their midnight meeting goes awry when initial hostility erupts into blazing passion. As things spiral out of control her father barges in, accuses Del of stealing horses and seducing his daughter. Despite Diana’s denials and pleas, her father arranges a quick shotgun wedding and a long prison sentence for Del.
When her father dies soon after, Diana takes over the running of the ranch. Within four years her life has taken on an idyllic regularity. She has overcome remorse at being party to Del Russell’s imprisonment and buried her memories of that night. Proud and stubborn, she nurtures a tough and calm manner that conceals a mass of insecurities and fears she is determined no one will ever see.
She has a nasty jolt when Del reappears, not for revenge as she first worries, but as a legal partner of Paradise Valley Ranch. Her ranch. And when he talks about them being husband and wife, her worry magnifies. Yes, he is attractive, as appealing as the night they met and almost– No, no, never would she be a wife to him. She must find a way to force him out.
But Del isn’t going anywhere. He’s been through hell and now is back to claim one half the ranch, once stolen from his father and rightfully his, no matter what beautiful, treacherous Diana does or says to try to get rid of him.
During the worst blizzard in years, Diana and Del, confined for days to the house, finally give in to their strong desires. They discover sizzling ecstasy and for a time a fragile happiness.
Diana and Del battle fiercely and love passionately, yet she is unable to completely trust or acknowledge the depth of her feelings for him. Del’s feelings for her seesaw from one extreme to the next and several times he gives up trying to love her, finding it’s easier on his heart to hate her.
When Diana suffers a miscarriage and the ranch house that means the world to her burns to the ground, she develops a dependence on laudanum and morphine fed by a land baron who covets Diana and her ranch. She breaks free of his grasp and goes to Del, who in a harrowing episode manages to free her of the drug dependence. She undergoes an epiphany during this ordeal and can finally confide her deepest fears to Del. And she and Del at last can admit they love each other.
Diana is charged with murdering the land baron’s daughter. When Del disappears she is tried for his murder, too. As she faces her blackest hour, fearing she has found love at last only to lose it again, Del appears with the real killer and they are gloriously reunited.
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I’ve written creatively since forever, it seems. Poems, short stories, novels, reviews, essays, even the odd letter to the editor. My day job as a technical writer for various levels of government was the labor I did for a living so that in my free time I could indulge in my labor of love, writing fiction.