This is a great novel for lovers of historical fiction and romance. Set in the California under Mexican rule (just lost to Spain and in a period of historical turmoil) the descriptions of life at the time are detailed but never boring. The story is seen from the eyes of Cara, a young American woman who has suffered several losses and is at a loose end.
She ends up taking a position in the Navarro ranch, looking after the wife of Miguel, el jefe. The book has been compared to Jane Eyre, as Desira, la patrona, suffered a serious accident, lost her child and has been left brain damaged, although she is not locked in the attic (Miguel is much nicer than Rochester, although Cara is not always clear about his intentions). We see the story from Cara's point of view. Her poor understanding of Spanish and her total naiveté with regards to the world and California in particular, create many misunderstandings. There are secrets, mysteries, plots to kill, Native-American raids, mountain lions, love rivals, wild horses and barely contained passion.
The plot is complex enough to keep everybody guessing, the intrigue is well maintained, and Cara, the main character, is strong and determined (most of the time) although in keeping with the customs of the period.
There are also strong secondary characters and the ending is satisfying. It's a solid romantic historical adventure novel and a very enjoyable one.