All Too Human: A Saga of Deadly Deceptions and Dark Desires

Written by Karen Wills
Review by Ellen Jaquette

In 1905, lawyer Rebecca Bryan visits the grieving Cale family in their isolated mansion in the mountains of Montana. The recently deceased family matriarch, Lucinda, left a considerable fortune, and Rebecca must locate her hidden will in order to help close this estate. The Cales, consisting of the artist, Bretton, and his elder brother, Damon, and his family, provide more intrigue as Rebecca attempts to find the will or locate who may have destroyed it. Multiple family secrets unravel when Rebecca discovers Lucinda’s hidden diaries, describing her marriage and early life in the Montana Territory after the Civil War. Rebecca and the Cales must make sense of these shocking revelations and what it means as they craft their own futures.

This novel explores the lives of strong women in unique places: in 1866, when Lucinda makes an arduous trek from the East Coast to her new husband’s estate in Montana Territory, and in 1905, when Rebecca’s own professional aspirations in a field and society are not yet welcoming to female attorneys. Much of the story is told through Lucinda’s diary passages, where we see and hear of her challenges in an abusive marriage in a geographically isolated and beautiful part of the country. The diary format provides a better window into Lucinda’s thoughts and desires than Rebecca’s, but insight into both characters is impeded by other plot elements that, while intriguing, distract from the narratives of the two main women. A secondary mystery involving a young Cale child and a separate romantic element do not have the space to grow, leaving the reader with questions. Despite these complications, the beautiful depictions of rural Montana shine and do help set a romantic and intriguing atmosphere that will entertain fans of this time period and location.