* Chapter 1: Chapter one begins with a description of the Mulkerin house in Malibu, California.
* From the front porch one can see hills, boulders and sandstone outcroppings. The Pacific Ocean is seen off in the distance.
* The Mulkerin family consists of Eileen Mulkerin and her sons Michael and Sean.
* Eileen is raised in Ireland, moves with her family to Spain and then is sent to live with an aunt and uncle in Mexico where she meets her husband, Jaime Mulkerin.
* The Mulkerin ranch is a present from the former Mexican president as a reward to Jaime for his years of faithful service. Jaime has been dead several years at the novel's opening.
* Bad luck and other unfortunate circumstances have put the family farm at risk, but Eileen Mulkerin is determined to save it at any cost.
* Eileen decides that she must find the place where Jaime had...
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