Set in Central City, Colorado in 1874, this story of the post-Civil War west makes for a most interesting romance. Proctor writes well and the story will hold your attention.
Gabrielle Antoine has been raised in a New Orleans convent, believing she is an orphan. Her dream is to someday have a school for girls. Then one day, as a young woman, she finds out her mother only recently died and has left her a house and a business in Colorado. Gabrielle is most curious and decides to go there to learn more about her mother. It turns out the house and business are the same—a brothel—and her mother was the madam who, while still a beautiful woman at 40, was murdered.
Once in Colorado, Gabrielle meets her mother’s business partner, a tough ex-Southern officer named Jordan Hays, whose pregnant wife was raped and murdered by Northern soldiers leaving him (understandably) one cold guy. But he can be charming, and he charms Gabrielle. An innocent virgin, Jordan tells her he will take her innocence and leave her with less than she had when he leaves, as he intends to do. He has no desire to marry again. He thinks it will be easy to take her and ruin her. It is and he does. Gee, what a good guy. Gabrielle’s one fear is becoming like her mother…and it seems Jordan is willing to help her down that path. Then comes a bad guy who wants the brothel to add to his kingdom, and he wants Gabrielle, too.
Of course, there are wonderful secondary characters, the prostitutes in the bordello, their children and the villains (more than one!). As Gabrielle develops a heart for the women and their children, so will you. We are all a product of our past and these women had very difficult pasts.
Proctor writes about Colorado as if she had been a long time resident. She is a master storyteller. Her descriptions of the natural beauty of the place are quite accurate and well done. She will take you back to the west of the 19th century when people were trying to carve a life for themselves out of the rugged terrain and difficult circumstances.