Nearly 10 years ago, Olivia Chenier Morrison threw caution to the wind and ran off with a rodeo rider. The marriage floundered and she was left a single parent raising her young daughter.

Olivia grew up on the LaAngelle Plantation, owned by the Archer Family. Her mother Selina married the heir apparent, John Archer II, but both died shortly afterwards, leaving Olivia in a unique position within the family. As a teenager, Olivia was a bit wild and there were numerous arguments with family patriarch Big John Archer and her step-cousin Seth. Because of the way she left, Olivia never felt comfortable with the idea of returning home to Point Coupee Parish but a letter from her ailing Aunt Callie Archer requesting to see Olivia and her daughter changes her mind.

Upon seeing Olivia for the first time in years, Big John whispers her mothers name and suffers an apparent heart attack. With Big John ill, keeping the family business running is left to Callies son Seth who is already busy with both his upcoming nuptials and dealing with his troubled young daughter Chloe. Olivias return is a blessing and a curse, for her assistance is invaluable, but their long-simmering attraction now threatens to consume them.

Complex family dynamics and an underlying hint of outside danger add spice and depth to this new work by perennial favorite Karen Robards. Ms. Robards is a true master of her craft. (On-sale Feb., 368 pp., $24.95)

Reviewed by: 
Jill M. Smith