Harlequin HQN, Mar 2009, $6.99
In 1890 in Eden, Dakota Territory, when she entered his Dogleg Saloon, John Roper knew instantly the bruised young girl did not belong there. Instead of offering her work there as she desperately asked, feeling sorry for the waif, he hires as his housekeeper.
Katie fails to inform her kindhearted employee that she is a runaway. For a dozen years Katie has been an abused slave to her odious adopted parents Jacob and Agnes Schrader. For the time in a long time, she feels safe and somewhat contented working for John whom she has fallen in love with. However, she also feels survivor guilt for her adopted sister, Jane still enslaved by the mean-spirited Schrader’s who have found Katie.
Putting aside statehood dates (no instant messenger from DC), EDEN is an excellent western romance due to the lead couple. Roper is terrific as a reluctant hero who cannot stop himself from being a knight in shining armor. Katie is the more fascinating protagonist as she recognizes reality as a person with no rights or legal recourse a saloon is better for her than the Schrader house while also filled with guilt for Jane. Fans will appreciate this strong late nineteenth century romance as the heroine escapes from hell to find a haven filled with love in EDEN.