Incredible book! I love every minute of it.
This book reminds me of a song by Peggy Lee, Is That All There Is? Info about the orphan trains was very interesting but that fizzled fast.
The rest of the book had enough plot to separate the huge number of sex scenes -- barely. After awhile, the repetitive sex scenes became boring!
The book opens with sisters Emma and Lily being separated at a train station. Emma has been chosen to stay and the conductor spirits Lily back on the train. One of the tragedies of that orphan train was the likelihood that a child could be chosen for reasons other than giving a youngster a safe home.
Chloe, a madam, knew this was going to happen to Emma and pays $100.00 to the person choosing this red-haired child. When the woman snidely asks Chloe if she plans to turn Emma into a prostitute, Chloe says she has always wanted a child of her own and Emma would be that child.
The next phase opens 13 years later and Emma has a beau, Fulton. He is a banker and heir to a huge fortune. Emma realizes she isnt in love with him but she wants to be accepted by the town (being the child of the towns madam leaves her virtue in doubt).
After an explosion, the injured are sent to various homes because of the numbers and the severity of their wounds. Thus, Emma meets Steven when he is placed in Chloes home. Before the first day is over, Steven tells her he plans to take her soon. And he does.
However, it didnt fit; Emma was going to marry a man she didnt love in order to get the respectability she craved. So she gives herself to the first man who isnt her intended? (Half the town watched Steven and Emma go to the island and knew what happened). Logical?
The book seemed to shift focus on a whim. First, the story was about the tragedies of the orphan trains. Then it is a romance with a triangle: woman is almost engaged but runs off with the new man in town (who obviously has a troubled past).
Then the brother of the man with a troubled past demands Steven go back to Louisiana to face charges for murdering 2 people. Steven and Emma go back to face the trial. In the meantime, the brother threatens Emma stating that he will be consoling the widow as soon as Steven is hanged.
There is a mystery about who could have killed the 2 people, and it is resolved in an interesting fashion. However, Miller had to resort to insanity to solve the mystery. How ho-hum.