Monday, October 6, 2008

The Parlor House Daughter-Joanne Sundell

The Parlor House Daughter
Joanne Sundell
Five Star, Dec 2008, $25.95
ISBN: 1594147221

In 1863 in Nevada City, Colorado Territory, an assailant murders prostitute Ruby Rose. Her five years old daughter Rebecca moves into a brothel, Jenny Clayton's Palace, where she is raised by the ladies with tenderness and kindness. Madame Jenny even offers to send her east for schooling when she became a teen, but Becca is obsessed with one day finding out who killed her mom and why.

When Becca turns seventeen, customer Morgan Larkspur notices her and is willing to pay top dollar to have her; none of Madam Jenny’s other girls would do. Becca accepts being Morgan’s mistress as she feels that arrangement might help her make progress on her cold case investigation. However, as she begins to fall in love, a crisis threatens to overwhelm them. He must deal with a miner’s strike and she with the unknown culprit trying to kill her. Besides which, Morgan is engaged to another woman.

This Reconstruction Era romance stars two solid lead characters and a strong cast, especially the prostitutes as the story line contains a deep look the plight of females. The plot is fast-paced even the opening scene in which Ruby is bleeding to death and never slows down as Becca forces her mother’s killer to confront her and propels Morgan to confront his feelings and desires. Historical fans will enjoy this fine 1870s Americana tale.

Harriet Klausner

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