The new bootleggers of today don't run stills and stock cars... they mule meth for high powered, well-connected drug lords from big cities people in the hills have heard of but never seen. Folks are born and die in the holler, they don't leave. They sure as heck don't amount to much. The most you can hope for is a roof that keeps the wet out and a husband that doesn't beat you every night. And that's something Charlie's own momma never did aspire to.
So when Charlie got herself a man with a county job, and a real wood built house with a basement she really thought she'd arrived. But Johnny never would marry her, even after three babies and the best years of her life melted away into nothingness. What's worse, that wood built house was rotting around her, Johnny's Daddy's got him into something bad and their drinking and cheating's so out of control it has become the stuff of legend. So its mostly a relief when he announces, on one of his few mornings home, that he's leaving her for another woman. Except for the part where there's not a crumb of food in the house, the kids have no clothes or coats for winter, and the property's being eyed for tax foreclosure. Charlie resorts to begging for work and little good it does her, but she's got plans and hopes. Dying hopes of having something nice; of raising children who succeed in real life outside of the holler.
At the end of her physical and financial rope a well-to-do, art-loving, outsider rolls in looking for a room to rent for hunting season, and the local storekeeper sends him her way. McClane's everything Charlie's ever imagined a man to be. He's tall, he's strong, he broods under the wide brim of a cowboy hat... and his license plates are from an exotic place far beyond the hills called Oklahoma. Charlie's certain it's too good to be true, and maybe it is. McClane's being there brings her nothing but trouble from Johnny and Daddy, and when things take a turn for violence she finds herself in the middle of a local conspiracy.
Who is this McClane? And why, despite the fury of problems he draws from the area, does he seem to have any place in her world. A man has never been something to trust, but Charlie must do exactly that, or suffer unimaginable danger for her and her children.
Shane and Kayla grew up on neighboring farms, as long as either could remember they'd been best friends. But without warning Kayla's family loses the farm and is forced to move five miles to town. To two third grade children that might as well have been a state away. Friendship struggles to hold on as childhood gives way to adolescence and puppy love grows into something deeper and harder to uproot. Shane longs to pursue his boyish ambitions of becoming a soldier, while Kayla longs to survive her mother's descent into drug use and her fathers sudden deep depression.
Her longing to be loved has no room for the boy who reminds her so much of that happy childhood home she lost, and she sends him on his way to the military as their adult lives begin and her interests are found solely in the town sweetheart, the son of the county Sheriff. But all that glitters isn't gold, and she's in far over her head before she realizes it. The scapegoat and folly of an abusive husband and his family, few know her prison and none dare risk reaching out to her. Shane never forgets the love of his life, and goes on struggling with his own on the other side of the country assuming she's found everything she wanted.
But a phone call eight years later and the tearful single word- his name- begging for him in the middle of the night finds him dropping everything to run back to the world he'd abandoned. What he finds is the same girl he's always loved shrouded in a hornets nest of abuse, politics, and small town nepotism. Shane instantly realizes he'd stop at nothing to end her suffering... No matter the sacrifice.
Shannon and Conner started out young. And his last tour with the military should have been uneventful, unloading cargo and fixing planes in Bahrain, except he came home in a box. And Shannon slid off the road in a rain storm and totaled her car in a terrible accident. She doesn't know why she didn't die. Instead she's holed up at the VA hospital nursing a slew of injuries and complications that are slow to heal.
Jake was cocky, vain and riding high on a wave of local fame as a teenage regional and state rodeo champion. But that fell apart a few years later when one of many old one-night-flings showed up on his parents door stoop with empty pockets and a swollen belly. He dreaded having to man up and found courage at the bottom of one too many bottles. His selfish cowardice resulted in a terrible accident and the deaths of those he should have loved. A decade later he was still paying penance in the infantry, eating bullets, and sustaining reckless injuries that some how failed to end his misery.
Short on beds and overloaded with patients the unlikely pair end up crammed into the same hospital room. They are both running from the things that haunt them. But its Shannon's soft voice in the darkness that becomes the first thing Jake's seen or felt in years; calming the demons and soothing him through their nights stuck in the hospital. Even after she's healed and gone her phone rings nearly every night, and though no one's there she knows its him, and keeps him company until dawn.
But when she loses all hope and decides to disappear into the obscurity of America's heartland it's Jake who sets out to find her. And save her from what he imagines is just herself. Though what he finds is far more trouble than he bargains for...