RYAN'S HAND – Leila Meacham
A Perfect 10
Grand Central Publishing
July 12, 2016
Boston, Massachusetts, and West Texas
Cara Martin comes from a family of early settlers in America who made their fortunes in ship building and the sea. The Martins became Society in Boston and lived very well . . . until Cara's mother died and her father soon after. Suddenly Cara found herself left deeply in debt. She was forced to drop out of Julliard, sell the house and her beloved Steinway piano to start, and to figure out a way to make a living. She became a reference librarian and lived frugally, no longer fitting in with her old friends. She was lucky in finding one at the library.
Ryan Langston left La Tierra Conquistada , the hugely prosperous family ranch in Texas, to pursue a law degree in Boston. Research led him to the library and Cara, and the two became fast friends for a year. Ryan was struck by her innocent beauty and couldn't help teasing her by calling her Puritan .
RYAN'S HAND begins as Cara waits at the airport to meet Ryan as he returns from a visit home to see his brother. He didn't look well when he left and seems worse now. It isn't long before she realizes how serious it is and moves in to take care of him. The worse happens, and she loses him. She's astounded when his lawyer tells her Ryan has left her money and half of the ranch in his will. He also left her a letter asking that she live on the ranch for a year. Cara doesn't want his money or ranch, but she feels she must do as her dear friend asked her to do.
As you might imagine, her welcome is anything but warm. Ryan's brother, Jeth, puts the worst—and mistaken—interpretation on her relationship to Ryan and her motives. It will be a long year on the ranch and lots of hard work. Jeth expects her to earn her keep, and she goes along trying to fit in with the many employees.
I'm calling this novel a contemporary romance, though it's set a little earlier than the present day. That's because it's Ms. Meacham's first book, written in 1984, shortly after she discovered the romance genre. In an introductory letter, she professes doubts as to how well she succeeded. I'm saying she did beautifully. All her characters are real. Life on the cattle ranch fascinates, and Cara and Jeth have a long road to follow before understanding each other. Cara is a gem. You may not like Jeth at first, but it's hard to blame him. And how could you not love Ryan?
Be sure to clear enough time to read this compelling work; once started, you won't want to put it down.