Texas families, the Blackthornes and the Creeds, have been engaged in a bitter feud. For one brief moment, college students Trace Blackthorne and Callie Creed thought they could ignore the battle and find a future together. That is, until Callies brother Sam is paralyzed in an accident caused by Traces brother Owen. Knowing her family needs her desperately; Callie breaks up with Trace and returns home without telling him she is pregnant.

An angry and bitter Trace leaves college and Texas far behind. Eleven years later, his fathers heart attack forces Trace to return to the Bitter Creek Cattle Company. While his father may not be up to full speed, he is still just as determined to force the Creeds off of their small ranch in the heart of the Blackthorne Empire.

The recently widowed Callie is busy raising her 10-year-old son Eli and 4-year-old daughter Hannah alone, while trying to keep Three Oaks afloat. Traces return opens old wounds and re-ignites the fear that hell discover Eli is really his son.

Then a tragic accident forces Callie to accept assistance from Trace. She once gave up a chance for love and happiness, will she be forced to sacrifice yet again?

Perpetual favorite Joan Johnston releases the first episode in what promises to be an emotional and stirring trilogy that will explore the complex relationship between two tormented families. THE COWBOY is certain to provide hours of reading enjoyment. (On-sale Feb., 389 pp., $6.99)

Reviewed by: 
Jill M. Smith