Romancing California Rancho life 1840 to 1947, a three generational epic of the family de Leon and fabled Rancho Piedra Blanca, the highly prized land grant, Mexico gave to military hero General Santa Ana. Who, the night he received the grant, lost it in a gentlemen's poker game to Piedra Blanca's founding Patron, Alphonse de Leon.
Owned, managed and maintained by de Leon family for more than 100 years, the enormous land mass of Piedra Blanca, swept up California's northern coast from the rolling hills of San Simeon to the rugged cliffs of El Sur Grande.
From his life's journal, the eighty year old Pablo, narrates to his faithful listeners, the Rancho's history and the search for his lineage. Miracles of miracles, orphan Pablo is adopted as brother to his beloved classmate Vincenti and second son to Don Joaquin and Mama Dolores de Leon.
Bonding families, the de Leon and Estrada long standing pact pledged their first born son and daughter in marriage.
Turning their back on family tradition, independent Annabella Estrada rejects the prearranged marriage to Vincenti choosing instead to first spy on and then seduce Pablo, Vincenti's adopted brother.
Loyal to family de Leon, Pablos breaks off his misbegotten affair with Annabella, creating in her a hateful determination for revenge.
To spite Pablo, Annabella, ambitious for power, wealth and independence, marries Vincenti then allies with Josefina Espinoza, the Rancho's currandera, to place the curse of death on all that stand in her way.
To Save the innocent and those that he loves, Pablos denies himself and gives up his life by faithfully keeping Annabella's "three little conditions," and in the end, discovers his long lost lineage.
In this morality play a battle rages between good and evil. Characters in this fictional narrative are reminiscent of these in Steinbeck's Tortilla Flats. Determined to write worthy literary prose, first time novels Michael Arnone finds inspiration in Steinbeck's recurring theme, "man giving his life up for his friends," profoundly personified in the Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men, and East of Eden.