4/5; 4 stars; A-Carla Kelly always teaches me some history in her books. This book is pretty dark in a lot of ways and leaves no doubt in the reader's mind that life was very hard in the 1600s in the southwest. Kelly manages to tell the history with empathy towards all points of view; the settlers, rancheros, and native people. As always, her characters are varied and interesting. I'm not sure I would be tough enough to thrive during that time!I really debated whether or not to put this on my romance shelf. There is some romantic development in the story but its not a big part of the book. It more like love grew despite the harsh environment, much like a flower may blossom in hard, barren soil. Kind of surprising.