cover image Midnight Rider

Midnight Rider

Kat Martin. St. Martin's Press, $5.99 (372pp) ISBN 978-0-312-95774-2

Martin's latest (after Devil's Prize) explores the aftermath of the Mexican-American War and its effect on California circa 1850. The nebulous laws aimed at settling land disputes between the Mexican Californios and the Americanos allowed some Anglos to steal vast quantities of California land. This story is about one such Anglo-Caralee McConnell's uncle-who has staked a claim to Rancho del Robles, the ranch owned for centuries by Ramon de la Guerra's family. Ramon, determined to ""set things right, to find justice with or without the Anglo law,"" fights back under the guise of El Dragon. A midnight raid on the ranch nets him Caralee, who becomes his unwilling hostage and later his unwanted bride. Despite a contrived and predictable ending, the author's colorful overview of the awakening of California, its people and their way of life makes this a worthwhile read. (Mar.)