Carole Harte lives with her grandmother on the family ranch in California's San Joaquin Valley, trying to avoid losing the property through drought and lack of money. The only promising source of funds is a cache of legendary gold hidden by bandits-until, that is, a film company that her former-actress grandmother has contracted with (more for a role in the movie than for money) arrives.

Jerrod Telford, an Aussie star, is unknown to Carole, and she wonders whether her grandmother is being conned. However, Jerrod has a cowboy background and dark good looks which make him perfect for the part of the legendary Joaquin Murieta. Carole vows to avoid him in favor of her ranch work, and Jerrod resists his attraction to her because she looks like his ex-wife.

The arrival of Jerrod's nefarious father and his appeal to Carole's grandmother, among other intensities, mitigate against these two staying apart.

Jane Toombs brings her considerable award-winning skills to bear and enhances the main romance with the insightful secondary love story of the young-hearted grandmother. (Feb., 388 pp., $3.99)

Reviewed by: 
Gerry Benninger