The Star in the Meadow

Written by Carla Kelly
Review by Viviane Crystal

Fernando Ygnacio and his daughter, Catalina, are auditors who make sure, for tax purposes, that the records of New Mexican ranchers match the government’s records during the Seven Year Audit of 1784. The reality, however, is that Fernando was accused of a theft and served five years in prison. That experience has left him a broken man, and it is his daughter who does the auditing. On this new job, Catalina overhears a conversation indicating future danger. Coming to the Double Cross Ranch owned by Marco Mondragon and his wife, Paloma, however, is like relaxing into a sea of healing love that changes everyone there.

All of the characters must be wise and alert to the machinations of their far-reaching neighbors as well as members of the roaming Comanche tribe, who are hesitantly discussing terms of peace with the ranchers and New Mexican government after years of war. The novel is filled with joy in its descriptions of newborn children; fear and delight during the telling of harrowing Mexican stories; terror during a kidnapping; and charm as a possible romance between two unlikely partners unfolds. The characters’ loyalty and honesty are remarkable because these qualities are coupled with pragmatism, hard work, expectations of cooperation from everyone, and the determination to snuff out all enemies. The Star in the Meadow is classic Western fiction, a terrific yarn that is somewhat contrived but will be treasured for its carefully measured, shifting tones long after the last page is turned. Fine historical fiction!