When I got the fresh-covered but 10-year-published book The Rose Legacy from Bethany House to review, I wondered, why the resurrection? Then I read this first book in the Diamond of the Rockies series by Kristen Heitzmann, and I understood.
It is 1880. Carina DiGratia, a feisty and beautiful Californian, has been betrayed by Flavio, her childhood sweetheart. However, she will make him pay by setting out on her own. She is sure it will be only a matter of time till he comes to fetch her from Crystal Colorado, where she has a job lead.
But things don’t turn out at all as she expects. Even before she gets to Crystal her wagon breaks down. While she’s trying to figure out what to do, a freight hauler comes along. He offers her a ride into town, but not before making room for his rig to pass by pitching her cart over the steep embankment. Trouble only compounds after that when she discovers the house she has paid for is occupied by squatters, and the job on which she has staked her hopes is in a house of ill repute.
Berkley Beck, the town’s only lawyer, comes to her rescue with the promise that he will look into her house problems. As well he gives her a respectable job in his office – along with hand kisses and longing looks. He creeps her out, but what choice does she have? Meanwhile she does retrieve a few things from her wrecked wagon. In fact, the handsome fright wagon driver, Quillan, is suddenly on hand to help her with the salvage effort.
As Carina settles into a room at Mae’s boarding house and her job at Berkley Beck’s, it becomes evident that all is not well in Crystal. “Roughs” rule the night and law enforcement agents seem powerless to stop the beatings and killings.
Carina, the Italian-born belle of the story, charms with her warm, excitable personality. I love the way Heitzmann makes her feel authentic by sprinkling Italian words throughout her thoughts:
“She sounded like Divina, always disparaging, looking for the bad, the weakness in someone. Where was her indole mite, the sweet temper Papa had praised, calling her dolce angelo, his sweet angel?” p. 93.