Twenty-eight-year-old Iris Steele has just inherited her family's ranch in northeast Oregon. It is the ranch where she grew up herding cattle and harvesting wheat, and where her brother and father both died. It is also, it turns out, land that the Nez Perce Indians now claim is rightfully theirs. As Iris begins to piece together the property's legitimate ownership, she unearths not only her family's turbulent history but also two centuries of tortured relationships between homesteaders and Native Americans. Struggling with a new crop and a fragile romance, she must ultimately confront the true nature of her legacy. In astonishing language, Joyce Weatherford combines unflinching descriptions of ranch life with the sensuous beauty of the Oregon landscape. part romance, mystery, courtroom drama, and history, Heart of the Beast is a family saga of epic power and import.