This first novel by Ms. Thomas simply tries too hard.
The first half of this book is dedicated to only Bethanie. It is her journey to escape her uncle, who (typically) lusts after her. She presses Josh to help her escape, and falls in love with him. Josh takes her to his brother's ranch, where she can begin a new life. It is here that the plot and momentum of the book shift from a "Josh and Bethanie" story to a "Bethanie and Ben" story. Through a decision made in haste, Bethanie and Josh are separated for three years before reuniting in a quick story that seemed, actually, too quick. Frankly, most of the novel regarding Bethanie revolves around her involvement with Ben, not Josh.
The second half of this book involves Bethanie and Josh's daughter, Mariah and a boy Josh brought with him from San Antonio, Dusty. Again, this is a diversion of what the book states it is about. I simply had a hard time understanding why the publisher sold this as a love story between Bethanie and Josh when it had more diversions from that story than the book simply could handle.
While I am a Texan, and support Texas writers any chance I get, this book is not Ms. Thomas' best. I would recommend skipping this book in favor of her more recent stuff. This book simply tries too hard to include too many stories. It would have been better to split the story about Mariah, and develop Josh and Bethanie's story without the diversion.
This is the only book I have been disappointed with by Ms. Thomas. I do recommend her other novels, just not this one.