The Road to Cardinal Valley
Earlene Fowler
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Buy *The Road to Cardinal Valley* by Earlene Fowleronline

The Road to Cardinal Valley
Earlene Fowler
304 pages
January 2014
rated 3 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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The small town of Cardinal Valley is a gathering place for those who have lost their way. Lucas is a product of this small town, now sitting in an all-night diner in Las Vegas waiting for the National Finals Rodeo that has brought him here to be over. Lucas left the corporate world to go back to Cardinal Valley and work with leather, making saddles, bridles, and other equine accessories. His second love is rescuing horses who have been abused by their owners or trainers. Lucas gives the horses a place to recover, a place of safety, just like he has found in his hometown.

Lucas’s Aunt Birch found her refuge in her Native American husband, Bobby. Birch's father disowned her when she chose to marry Bobby against his wishes. Even though her parents treated her so abominably, she has chosen to remain in Cardinal Valley and has become the matriarch of all lost souls. One of those souls is Ruby.

When Ruby met Cole, she didn’t know anything about his family. She knew about his jail time and the time he had spent in rehab, but she thought he had dealt with that and put it behind him. She did not understand the extent of his despair and was totally unprepared for his suicide. His death brought her back to Cardinal Valley where Cole had grown up, brother to Lucas, mentor and friend to Ely, and missed by so many who truly loved him.

Ruby’s life has been anything but stable. As a child, she and her brother, Nash, were abandoned by their mother, never to see her again. When, in her early teens, their father died, she and Nash tried to manage on their own but were soon on the radar of the Children’s Aid and ended up in separate foster homes. Ruby has lived with the regret of not being able to keep her younger brother safe. Now, she is desperately trying to save him from himself, so she brings him to the only place in the world that means safety for her: Cardinal Valley.

In this sequel to the 2006 novel Saddlemaker’s Wife, we meet Nash, a troubled young man who hasn't decided whether or not he wants to be saved. He knows his sister is trying, but it's just too much effort on his part to be the loving sibling. He doesn’t care for Ruby’s life or her friends. Although she is convinced he is sober and moving toward recovery, he is just moving toward the next bottle. Life is about to take hold of Nash and force him to become a hero.

Small towns can be welcoming, warm and endearing. They can also be small-minded, nosy and suffocating. The author shows us all of these elements in the citizens of Cardinal Valley. In the end, she leaves the reader with a thirst for more about these delightful characters who can be counted on to care, show compassion, and extend a helping hand.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Joyce Rice, 2015

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