Ruby is an unusual female lead for women's fiction. She's worn and hardened by experience as well as by the men in her life who have never lived up to her expectations. Beginning with her adoptive father who stopped communicating with her prior to his death, then this biological father she hasn't met who gave her away, while adding her many meaningless relationships, including Mia's father, Ruby doesn't have much faith in men. When Mia acts out in the worst of ways in response to Ruby tossing away one more male relationship, Ruby has to move them somewhere to save her daughter's reputation. Ruby loves Mia but she's struggling with her own self esteem. She doesn't want Mia to turn out like her, having made numerous mistakes, but she's not sure how to reach her before losing her completely.
Mia immediately takes to Ruby's biological father Hank and they form an unbreakable bond. Ruby is jealous of their easy relationship and can't seem to forgive her father long enough to get to know him. Hank and Mia share the love of the horses that Hank rescues. Together they earn these animals' confidence. The ranch foreman, Joe Dawson, is just as broken as Mia, Ruby and Hank, maybe even more so from the death of his son years ago that continues to haunt his interaction with others.
From carnies to oil riggers to ranchers, Unforgiven is filled with a variety of roughnecks who are mostly men. The few wives stay away from Unforgiven, preferring to shop, work or socialize in the adjacent town. Unforgiven is a man's town and they're not keen on Ruby's interference in their world.
As Ruby struggles with her relationship with a father she feels deserted her, she can't help but defend him against whoever is trying to force him off his land. Meanwhile, Joe and Ruby form a friendship and begin to heal their broken pasts. Can these characters, all in need of forgiveness, find it in each other?
All likable characters in need of love, kindness and understanding, I couldn't help but hope they'd find forgiveness. If not from each other, at least from themselves. I wanted them to find the compassion they all desire, even if they don't know it at first.
THE PROMISE OF FORGIVENESS is full of flawed, interesting people. The plot is enhanced by the numerous, diverse men who are all suspect, as Ruby tries to determine who is trying to hurt Hank. A contemporary ranching story with a little suspense that propels the story forward, I don't think it fits completely into women's fiction because there are more men in this story than women. THE PROMISE OF FORGIVENESS is in a category by itself as a character-driven story that is emotional, thought provoking and full of love. It's gritty like the dust that blows through the Panhandle. It will make you smile and cry before you sigh with relief when it looks as though they'll all be okay. A great novel with life-like, tenacious characters in need of a promise for tomorrow, THE PROMISE OF FORGIVENESS pulls at your heartstrings with the complexity of humanity.