The year is 1934. With the country in the stranglehold of
drought and economic depression, Ella Barron runs her Texas boardinghouse with
an efficiency that ensures her life will be kept in balance. Between chores of
cooking and cleaning for her residents, she cares for her ten-year-old son,
Solly, a sweet but challenging child whose misunderstood behavior finds Ella on
the receiving end of pity, derision, and suspicion. When David Rainwater
arrives at the house looking for lodging, he comes recommended by a trusted
friend as “a man of impeccable character.” But Ella senses that admitting Mr.
Rainwater will bring about unsettling changes.
However, times are hard, and in order to make ends meet,
Ella’s house must remain one hundred percent occupied. So Mr. Rainwater moves
into her house and impacts her life in ways Ella could never have foreseen.
The changes are echoed by the turbulence beyond the house
walls. Friends and neighbors who have thus far maintained a tenuous grip on
their meager livelihoods now face foreclosure and financial ruin. In an effort
to save their families from homelessness and hunger, farmers and cattlemen are
forced to make choices that come with heartrending consequences.
The climate of desperation creates a fertile atmosphere for
racial tensions and social unrest. Conrad Ellis, privileged and spoiled and
Ella’s nemesis since childhood, steps into this arena of teeming hostility to
exact his vengeance and demonstrate the extent of his blind hatred and
unlimited cruelty. He and his gang of hoodlums come to embody the rule of law,
and no one in Gilead, Texas, is safe. Particularly Ella and Solly.
In this hotbed of uncertainty, Ella finds Mr. Rainwater a
calming presence. She is moved by the kindness he shows other boarders, Solly,
and Ella herself. Slowly, she begins to rely on his soft-spoken nature, his
restraint, and the steely resolve of his convictions.
And on the hottest, most violent night of the summer those
principles will be put to the ultimate test.
From acclaimed bestselling author Sandra Brown comes a
powerfully moving novel celebrating the largess and foresight of a great bygone
generation. It tells a story that bears witness to a bittersweet truth: that
love is worth whatever price one must pay for it.
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