FAMILIAL rivalry has for many years been a best-selling theme built on bad blood and outlandish behaviour in the cattle country of the south-western United States.
Look no further than the Colbys and Carringtons of Dynasty and the Ewings and Barnes of Dallas for examples of scheming and deceit played out across the neighbourhood fence.
Now the wide-open ranchland has another multi-generational feud: that fought by the Blackthornes and Creeds of aptly titled Bitter Creek, Texas, and their extended clans.
In Sinful, the 16th Joan Johnston novel involving the same coterie of surnames, the action takes place in Wyoming.
King Grayhawk first appeared on the Blackthorne-Creed scene several books ago as the man from whom Blackthorne patriarch Jackson had in his youth “stolen” Eve DeWitt to be his wife. Later, he resurfaced as the co-grandfather of Blackthorne’s illegitimate grand-daughter, Kate.
In Sinful, he is a pivotal villain in his own right. When estranged son Matt returns home after more than 20 years in Australia’s Top End to take up his share of the Greyhawk property, daughter Eve – named for Grayhawk’s lost first love – finds herself suddenly displaced. With the land that has always been at her disposal now under a stranger’s control, she must start afresh to create an adult life for herself and find safe haven for the mob of mustangs she has saved from slaughter.
Her options are few – that is, until she discovers that her late best friend’s widower, Connor Flynn, needs a mother for his child. With the Grayhawks and Flynns embroiled in a long-running battle of their own, can Eve and Connor somehow find a version of “happily ever after”?
Sinful is a few hours’ entertaining, light reading to a formula that invariably weaves over and around a heartwrenching trail of obstacles before winding up on a feel-good note.