Jilted by love, in 1834 Cara Lindsay flees Boston to begin a new life with an aunt in Mexico's rugged California. Heartbroken to learn her aunt is died, she becomes companion to Desira, wife of Don Miguel Navarro, the tough and irresistible owner of a major inland rancho.
Prior to her arrival, Desira suffered a permanent brain injury in a mysterious fall and will never be more than a child. The lonely ranchero's heart opens to Cara's kindness and beauty like parched earth to rain. Cara is drawn to him as well. Yet her heart may break again, for she would never be any man's mistress.
Dark undercurrents of lust for the land and mysterious deaths swirl about her. The next time the bells ring and an eagle cries, Cara wonders if she will be the next to die.