Daughter of a senator, Emmeline Amity Callahan lived a charmed life until she scandalized her reputation and was forced to trade high society for the western wilds.

Her trouble began when fellow social-ite and nephew to the president, Darien Cadman, agreed to a dare to seduce a kiss from the homeliest girl at the ballwhich happened to be Emmeline. To exact re-venge on his cruel prank, Emmeline pretended that they shared more than a stolen kissdamaging her reputation beyond repair.

In need of a new start, Emmeline accepts her grandparents offer to test her mettle by managing their California ranch, withor againstQuaid Deerborne, their determined neighbor.

Quaid already has one rival on the ranch. His cousin Merci Bryne also loves Rancho de la Palma, but when it appears that Quaid will become the successor, she is devastated. Mercis troubles are just beginning. After she discovers a horrifying secret about her birth, Merci gives up her dream and runs off, only to fall prey to a ruthless pimp.

Quaid Deerborne loves his grandparents ranch, but he feels responsible for Mercis disappearance. He feels guilty for inheriting what he knows means the world to her. As the test unfolds, Quaid finds himself falling in love with Emmeline.

Diane Nobles The Blossom and the Nettle is a beautiful love story that depicts the transforming powers of repentence, forgiveness and restitution. (Aug., 400 pp., $11.95)

Reviewed by: 
Roberta Blair