In the small Idaho town of Sweetwater, Chas McPherson tends his blackbelly sheep and keeps his thoughts to himself. Unable to care for his terminally ill father, he must hire a home-care nurse for a job no one in his or her right mind would take. But one woman accepts. Mattie Holden comes to this cramped, cluttered house with a secret on her heels. And in brooding, hard-drinking Chas and his silent, angry father, Mattie finds two men who will pierce her own aching loneliness.
As Chas tries to make room for Mattie in this house haunted by the past, Sweetwater is set on edge by an act of arson—and Chas is the suspect. Soon Mattie finds herself taking sides—between a father and his son, between a town’s hatred and a man’s sense of honor, between her carefully guarded secrets and Chas’s urgent touch. Suddenly a hardscrabble ranch becomes the setting for both love and violence as this brilliant, beautifully written novel builds toward a shattering conclusion.