AVAILABLE TODAY/MONTLAKE ROMANCE
Raised by guardians in Philadelphia, the Brinkman sisters have suddenly been bequeathed more than the truth about their late, estranged father—they’ve also inherited the Five Sisters Ranch, the dynasty he’d built for them in Eden, Colorado. It’s theirs on one condition: to claim it, they must live on it for six months—a wilderness worlds away from the comforts of the city. For Belle Brinkman, her father’s last wish could fulfill a dream she never knew she had.
Though Blake Harding, their father’s protective friend and faithful foreman, has yet to come to terms with his own broken past, he finds his heart opening to the inspiring and determined Belle. But Eden soon proves to be a tough paradise for all of them when the sisters’ lives are threatened by someone hell-bent on driving them out of town. Now they must gather their courage if they’re going to secure their legacy and have a chance at claiming the new life and possibilities of love that the untamed territory offers.
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From the Author
Heart of Eden is a coming-home story for five sisters who remember very little about their early life in a rustic Colorado settlement. Eighteen years before, their mother whisked them away from all the dangers of an untamed territory.
Belle Brinkman, second oldest, barely remembers Blake Harding, the starving boy her father took in only months before the sisters’ departure. On their return, Belle finds a man has replaced the child—completely different, hard-edged, and vexing…yet the scar marring one side of his face is as she remembers. Tall, strong, and bold, Blake has a simmering anger that’s replaced his fear and timidity.
Blake, still committed to his late benefactor, John Brinkman, can’t understand what has kept the sisters away for so many years, ignoring their father’s requests that they come home, if not forever, then for a visit. Could they really be that hard-hearted? Their feigned unawareness of the situation keeps him from softening, but when Belle decides she will step into her father’s boots, at least where the ranch is concerned, Blake has no recourse but to comply and show her around. After all, the admonition that he hold no grudge against any of the sisters was bluntly stated in the will. As was another astounding revelation. If the sisters prove tougher than his impression of them, they’ll end up partners with him in one of the largest ranches in the state.
In the mountains, meadows, and plains of Colorado, Blake and Belle find a common ground where there’s no competition or troubling questions, and that place is deep in their hearts.
“I see you found your father’s grave,” he said, his voice bringing a surprising peace to her jittery heart.
So much has happened so fast. Learning about Father’s death, then the trip here. The inheritance. The stunning discovery Father wasn’t the scoundrel we’d all believed.
And now this all-encompassing feeling she got whenever she took in the sight of these mountains, the ranch, the old house. Even the man beside her. All parts of her father. She wished with her whole heart she could have him back. Even for one minute.
“I did. I hope you don’t mind?”
“You need to be careful, at least until we find Praig.” He held her gaze. “This isn’t a game. You understand?”
She nodded. “How’s Moses?”
“Still feeling the effects of the morphine. He fell asleep a few minutes ago.”
He shifted his weight from one leg to the other, gazing at her father’s grave. He seemed to be wrestling with a problem in his mind. The mourning dove that had been breaking her heart suddenly fluttered down onto the grass a few feet away.
“Will you tell me about him?”
She nodded. “Your father as well, by the words on his headstone.”
“I didn’t have anything to do with that. Henry took care of all his last wishes.”
He was hurting too. The long grass around the perimeter of the small, quaint burial ground waved gently, and she had the urge to step closer to him, but she didn’t. The peace here was intoxicating.
“John was a darned good man. Best I’ve ever known. He fed the Andersons through a hard winter, making sure they had plenty to eat after Mr. Anderson hurt his back. He did the same for Widow Lang and her granddaughter. Sent the Greens’ twins to a hospital in Denver when Doc Dodge couldn’t diagnose the problem at hand.” He shook his head thoughtfully. “Made sure the orphanage had firewood and food. He never turned anyone away, no matter their problem. There’re too many instances to list.”
“Did he ever talk about us?”
A sentimental smile crossed his lips. “All the time. He’d worry I’d get sick of listening and said so, but I didn’t. I liked how reminiscing made him feel. He wondered about you. What you looked like. What your characters and behaviors turned out to be. What you liked, or disliked. If any of you had married. He had his opinions from when you were babes.” He turned his head and winked at her. “‘Now Belle,’ he used to say, ‘she’s my firecracker. I pity the man who she decides to marry. He better be strong, because I’ve never seen a spirit on any of my girls like I do in her.’”