Dragged to the gold fields by her greedy father, Isabella Vasquez soon finds herself lost in a card game to a frontiersman named Peter Brondi. Falling in love with Peter, she is determined to make him a good wife, but he has his own reservations about whether their marriage was a legal one. One of Kit Carson’s men, Peter has been fighting Indians all his life, and he’s not about to endure the mockery of having a half breed for a wife. Despite a clear word from God to take her with him, Peter abandons Isabella at a brothel.
But as much as Peter wants to forget her, the blue-eyed Indian girl keeps coming to mind. Making his peace with God, he eventually he returns to marry her properly but finds that his absence has made the hope of a new life together much harder than it would have been.
The third book in the California Rising series, this story concludes the saga that began with Roman and Rachel and continued with Dominic and Maria, allowing Roman and Maria’s adopted sister Isabella to have her own story. The themes of the book deal with racism and brotherly rivalry. Peter must confront both his hatred of Indians and his hatred of his own half breed brother Paul if he is going to make a life with Isabella. The author makes many parallels to the apostle Peter, as his Bible-toting father Jedidiah calls him to, “feed my sheep” (both literally and figuratively). Mick, the villain of the story, was not as present or as terrifying as other villains of the series and gave Peter less of a chance to prove himself a hero.
All in all, this was a good read that kept me up late so I could finish in one sitting. It was probably, however, my least favorite of the three California Rising books.