I am a fan of Jennifer Blake and love her “Love and Adventure” stories (she has two boxed sets of them—all eBooks). This one is a bodice ripper from the Old West and very well told.
Set in 1893, it tells of 19-year-old Serena Walsh who has lost her parents to typhoid and is forced to travel with a Mormon wagon train heading through Colorado where her father had planned to mine for gold. But the crazed Mormon Elder Greer has eyes for Serena and decides she will become his wife whether she is willing or no. When he thinks to take her by force, she stabs him with a fork and flees to the prairie. There, she is rescued by Ward Dunbar, owner of the Eldorado saloon, who sees her safely to Colorado and thinking she is a loose woman forcibly takes her innocence (yes, indeedy, this is a bodice ripper).
Ward, a lawyer turned gambler, wasn’t looking too good when he took Serena’s innocence and, making it worse, forced her to become his kept woman, holding her prisoner in a room above his saloon. Then, too, Ward’s partner, Pearlie, is jealous of Serena and resents her presence. But all is not lost; millionaire Nathan Benedict discovers Serena and wants her for his own, offering a fortune to Ward to leave her alone. And, oh yes, someone is killing ladies of the night.
It’s a tightly woven plot with lots of tension and very well written. Based on thorough research, Blake brings to life the gold mining town of Cripple Creek in the late 19th century with all its colorful characters and more than one villain. The story is told through the heroine’s perspective so you’ll be wondering what Ward is thinking much of the time, as I did, at least until he tells us what’s been on his mind. This is one story that will keep you turning pages.