3 " Harley Diekerhoff looked up from peeling potatoes to glance out the kitchen window. It was still snowing... even harder than it had been this morning. So much white, it dazzled. Hands still, breath catching, she watched the thick, white flakes blow past the ranch house at a dizzying pace, enthralled by the flurry of the lacy snowflakes. So beautiful. Magical A mysterious silent ballet in all white, the snow swirling, twirling just like it did in her favorite scene from the Nutcracker—the one with the Snow Queen and her breathtaking corps in their white tutus with their precision and speed—and then that dazzling snow at the end, the delicate flakes powdering the stage. Harley’s chest ached. She gripped the peeler more tightly, and focused on her breathing. She didn’t want to remember. She wasn’t going to remember. Wasn’t going to go there, not now, not today. Not when she had six hungry men to feed in a little over two hours. She picked up a potato, started peeling. She’d come to Montana to work. She’d taken the temporary job at Copper Mountain Ranch to get some distance from her family this Christmas, and working on the Paradise Valley cattle ranch would give her new memories. Like the snow piling up outside the window. She’d never lived in a place that snowed like this. Where she came from in Central California, they didn’t have snow, they had fog. Thick soupy Tule fog that blanketed the entire valley, socking in airports, making driving nearly impossible. And on the nights when the fog lifted and temperatures dropped beneath the cold clear sky, the citrus growers rushed to light smudge pots to protect their valuable, vulnerable orange crops. Her family didn’t grow oranges. Her family were Dutch dairy people. Harley had been raised on a big dairy farm in Visalia, and she’d marry a dairyman in college, and they’d had their own dairy, too. But that’s the part she needed to forget. That’s why she’d come to Montana, with its jagged mountains and rugged river valleys and long cold winters. She’d arrived here the Sunday following Thanksgiving and would work through mid-January, when Brock Sheenan’s housekeeper returned from a personal leave of absence. In January, Harley would either return to California or look for another job in Crawford County. Harley was tempted to stay, as the Bozeman employment agency assured her they’d have no problem finding her a permanent position if she wanted one. "
5 " Don't live to please others. Don't think everyone else knows what's right or true. Listen to yourself, and be true to yourself. That way, no matter what else happens in life, you will always have your self-respect. "
12 " Montana winters were never mild, and this winter felt even more brutal than normal. Taylor Harris sucked in a sharp breath at the blast of frigid air as she and Jane Weiss, the new director of the "
13 " Taylor had been a book lover her entire life and, even at twenty-six, loved nothing more than curling up and getting lost in a great story, reading until the early hours of the morning. So what if it meant she never got enough sleep? Books were her life, her passion. "
16 " The employment agency liked her attitude. They said she was perfect for the temp job and filled her in on the Sheenans, one of the bigger, more prominent families that had settled in Paradise Valley around the turn of the century. She’d be working for Brock "
18 " She ought to be intimidated by this shaggy beast of a man, but she wasn’t. She’d had a husband—a daring, risk-taking husband of her own—and his lapse in judgment had cost them all. Dearly. “It’s dangerous out there, "