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The Fifth Daughter of Thorn Ranch by Julia Brewer Daily 

Adventure and romance in a magnificent west Texas setting. 

After graduation from Texas A&M University, Emma Rosales returned to her home, the sprawling Thorn Ranch, the largest ranch in Texas. She was still undecided about her future, but had loved animals all her life and was considering continuing her education to become a veterinarian and open a practice in a small town near her home. However, she was the only child of the ranch owners, and like her mother before her and her mother before her and so on, she was expected to come home to prepare for eventually taking over the land that had been in her matriarchal line for many generations. 

Each year, Emma’s parents would take a trip to escape the height of the south Texas summer heat, and this year was no different. As always, Emma declined to accompany them, preferring to stay on the ranch and explore its more remote reaches, riding fence, camping out under the vast Texas night sky, and, this year, thinking about the rest of her life. But while she is out camping without a cell phone or radio, more than a three-day ride from the ranch house, Emma and her horse are surprised by a sudden rainstorm, and when Honey-Boy breaks a leg getting them to shelter, she is forced to put him out of his misery and continue afoot. 

She successfully makes her way into a small cave opening in the canyon walls but rising waters from the dry creek bed below force her further and further into its dark and rocky depths. Seeing an opening far into the gloom, Emma walks out to discover a large number of people in a valley hidden from outside view by the towering rock cliffs surrounding it. Turning to slip unnoticed back the way she came, she finds she’s already been observed, and The People aren’t going to let her leave. Ever. 

The Fifth Daughter of Thorn Ranch is a full and satisfying story of discovery, wonder, love, and loss. The tale unfolds from two angles: Emma’s experiences and those of the people left behind on the ranch. Both sides of the story are riveting. I was so engrossed in this book I almost completed it in one sitting, only putting it down because it had gotten ridiculously late. 

Daily has populated her book with engaging, sympathetic characters and a couple of unique personalities who present some interesting conflicts (Chesma and Jeff Bower’s mother) to the leads. Emma is a good person and uncertain about her pre-ordained future. She’s a bold, free spirit in her actions but cautious when it comes to her heart. She’s rightfully suspicious of the sincerity of Jeff’s interest in her and considerate about committing to Kai when she knows she’s going to try and escape any chance she gets. I was totally on board with her mother, Josie’s, feelings and actions, though. I would not have held up nearly as well as she did under the circumstances. 

The ranch setting is magnificent with its far-flung expanses, remote and hiding canyons, desert, and vacant spaces. It was easy to imagine the locations, getting lost in their vastness, and feeling the dust and heat that made the search and rescue and the possibility of escape so daunting. 

I enjoyed the story immensely and wasn’t ready to leave The Thorn Ranch at the end of the book. The author leaves some things up in the air, so I’m hoping for a sequel. How about a Sixth Daughter? I recommend THE FIFTH DAUGHTER OF THORN RANCH to readers who enjoy family sagas or western fiction with some magical elements and clean romance. 

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author through Lone Star Book Blog Tours.

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