The Wilder sisters are as different as two sisters can be. Rose, the elder, passed up college to marry her first love, Philip, and has spent the years raising her kids in the small town of Floralee, New Mexico. Lily, on the other hand, shot right out of college and into the high-powered world of medical sales and the heady thrill of having multiple lovers. But now, as Rose is 40 and Lily is 35, the two share the experience of watching their carefully arranged lives fall apart. Struck by the heartlessness of her job and of her boyfriend, Lily returns home to the family horse ranch for a bit of soul-searching--and finds her sister tackling her own inner demons.
Rose, who's struggling to reestablish herself after the death of her husband, Philip, suddenly finds hope and comfort in a growing friendship with her boss, Austin. Although she falls in love with his inner qualities, Austin remains a depressed, alcoholic mess who pines after his ex-wife. As their relationship evolves, Rose fights to maintain her dignity and preserve her independent identity as Austin shuffles through attempts at sobriety and fidelity. Lily, meanwhile, reunites with her former high school flame Tres but fears this will become yet another meaningless affair.
Understanding that "if you gave up on love, all that was left was money and horses," (and fully appreciating the value of good horseflesh), these two throw themselves after love with equal parts inspiring courage and realistic fear. While the simplicity of Mapson's writing style most often complements the purity of this unadorned plot, the substance of the novel remains the interactions of the two sisters. Readers who enjoy the pleasantly puzzling issues of siblinghood will find the dynamics between these two fascinating. --Nancy R.E. O'Brien
Mapson introduces us to Lily and Rose Wilder, the daughters of a rancher and his beautiful activist spouse. The sisters return to the home ranch as they face their own midlife crises. Lily is tired of her high-powered, travel-intense California sales job and her own taste in men. Rose, recently widowed, nurses a tentative affection for the veterinarian she works for and wonders why her adolescent children turned out so badly. Set in Floralee, New Mexico, the novel is drenched in local color and scent: the landmarks and the scenery nestle naturally into the tale. The sisters wrestle with desire in ways that reflect both their ancient Latina, Navajo, and Anglo heritage and their place in a world that we recognize as now. They wrestle with each other, too, the still-smarting pressures of being the children of strong-minded parents; the pressures of money, or lack of it; and a pervasive cherishing of the dogs and horses that are as close to their lives as their own breath. Above all, though, this is a tasty romance, as Lily rediscovers the man she left behind and Rose lends just enough strength to the veterinarian so he can recover both from his ex-wife and from the bottle. There's great stuff here: luscious sex scenes; hilarious encounters with wayward children; family talk and family sorrow; and a respectful delineation of several kinds of religious faith as a natural part of living. GraceAnne A. DeCandido