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Ruby    by Lauraine Snelling order for
by Lauraine Snelling
Order:  USA  Can
Bethany, 2003 (2003)
Hardcover, Paperback
* *   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

'My dearest daughters ... I am dying ... come and claim your inheritance ... please come soon to Dove House in Little Missouri ... in Dakota Territory.' When Ruby Torvald receives this letter from her long-lost father, she packs belongings, gathers her nine-year-old sister Opal, and heads out on the train. For the past ten years, Ruby and Opal had been living in New York City. Their father took off after their mother died giving birth to Opal, heading West in search of fortune in the gold rush. The girls first lived with their grandmother, and after her death, Ruby joined the staff of the Brandon family.

Upon arrival in Little Missouri, or 'Little Misery' as the residents refer to it, Ruby and Opal discover that the town is a very small settlement near a military cantonment. The residents are hostile toward the girls, and they arrive at Dove House just in time to receive their father's will and to say goodbye. Their inheritance is nothing like what they expected, and soon Ruby is confronted with many decisions she could never have prepared for. Can Ruby fulfill the promise she made to her father? Can she turn the stereotypes of Little Missouri around when she makes changes at Dove House?

Rand Harrison owns the Double H Ranch. He fought against many odds to make a go of his dream. Everything is falling into place, except for the loneliness he feels inside. Instant attraction sparks when he first lays eyes on Ruby. She is full of fire and determination, as well as integrity and poise. Will the two ever see eye-to-eye? Captain Jeremiah McHenry also feels immediately drawn to Ruby. The two start spending time together and grow closer. But he is a military man, which means he could be ordered to move at any time. Is there hope for a future with him?

Ruby is the first book in the Dakotah Treasures series. The characters endear from the first page. Ruby is a headstrong young woman who will not compromise her integrity even in the face of certain failure. Her dedication to younger sister Opal and to the other residents of Dove House is admirable. Her developing relationships with Rand and the Captain are exciting and unpredictable.

The frustration I had was that it took Ruby such a long time to figure out what was going on with Dove House. The reader and all the other characters in the book see the light long before it dawns on her. This naivet9 appears inconsistent with Ruby's ability to speak three languages and her voracious reading. Ruby's relationship with God is so real though. With its ups and downs and dry periods, any reader can identify with her struggles and triumphs.

From its beautiful cover through to the ending, Ruby does not disappoint. I generally stay away from series books because it seems that every story is left unresolved, and by the time the next book comes out I have forgotten what is happening. There is resolution in this novel, and you can feel good about the story even if you don't pick up the sequels. Enough threads are left for anticipation of book two, titled Pearl, which I eagerly await. Ruby leaves you feeling uplifted, and is a treasure readers should mine from the choices available.

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