"Where the River Once Flowed" by Jennie Hansen is a piece of Latter-day Saint fiction that is appealing to young women. Though the book is incredibly predictable, it is an easy and enjoyable read.
The book begins by introducing the Sebastian Hacienda, a ranch in New Mexico. The property has been passed down for generations by the powerful Sebastian family.
Desperate to have an heir to the ranch, Don Sebastian marries off his youngest granddaughter Iliana to an American cowboy named Ross Adams. The bargain is struck, and Adams promises to produce an heir.
In the meantime, a neighboring rancher is desperate to own the Sebastian ranch. He wants to marry Iliana and will do anything he can to get her.
Those not of the Mormon faith will also enjoy reading this book. There are brief references to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but it is not a main theme of the book. The main characters' love story is not fueled by religion, which is often the case in these female-driven LDS books.
A definite plus of the book is the setting. It is refreshing to read an LDS story that is not based in Utah or England. Hansen describes New Mexico in vivid detail. The harsh New Mexico territory adds credibility to the plot and the characters' actions.
A downside of the book is how Iliana is portrayed. She is seen as a desperate damsel in distress who needs constant rescuing.
"Where the River Once Flowed" is a guilty pleasure for LDS young women. It is a clean and entertaining book that is appropriate for all ages.
Author Jennie Hansen has published 24 novels. She regularly reviews LDS fiction books for Meridian Magazine. She lives in Utah with her husband and has five children.
Shelby Scoffield has a bachelor's in English from Brigham Young University and a master's in rhetoric and composition from Stanislaus State University. She is currently working on her teaching credentials so she can teach high school English.