With this book, Cheryl St. John starts a new series about one of the most uniquely American businesses in our history -- the Harvey Houses. The Harvey Houses were restaurants and hotels that offered similar accommodations and meals, so travelers along the railway knew the level of quality they would receive before they arrived. In other words, Mr. Harvey nationalized the travelers' expectations, like Holiday Inn or the Hyatt.
Girls came from around the US to get a job at the Harvey Houses because the salaries were good and the young women were fed and housed in a quasi-family atmosphere.
Our heroine, Sophie Hollis, is a true victim. After watching her family being killed on a wagon train, the Sioux kidnapped Sophie and her mother. After some years, she was sold to a white man, who turned Sophie into a con artist (to work with him). At the time of this story, Sophie has escaped from Tek Garrett and been living on her own for two years. She works at a Harvey House in Kansas. Sophie wants to earn enough to start her own business and be independent.
She accidentally bumps into Clay Connor a couple of times and he is taken with her. He soon realizes that, unlike most of the Harvey Girls, she is not interested in marriage. Of course, Tek Garrett (as Mr. Monte Morgan) finds Sophie and ensnares her roommate, Amanda -- as a means to get to Sophie.
I did not realize at the outset that this was a trilogy. I recommend that you read them in order; this books refers (and interacts with) the main characters of THE DOCTOR'S WIFE in this novel. This story is well-paced and so engrossing that I read it in one sitting; I just couldn't put it down. However, I was disappointed with the too-pat ending.
1. The Doctor's Wife (1999)
2. The Tenderfoot Bride (2003)
3. The Lawman's Bride (2007)
Sophie Hollis was kidnapped as a child and sold to a con man. She'd fast learned how to sweet-talk her way out of trouble. Now all she wanted was to be left alone to build a new life--one that was honest and decent, based on truth, not trickery. Clay Connor, the town's marshal, was the last man she should care about. Upright and honorable, he deserved better than a woman with a tainted past. But if only Sophie could learn to trust again, she might find this lawman would make her new life complete...