Five Star, Jul 2009, $25.95
In 1874 twenty-five years old Meggie McMurphy flees Boston without a penny to her name, which by the way she tells everyone she is is Rose Rochester. She manages to get to Denver where businessman Ethan Rourke sees her dancing in a nightgown in the snow at night. He thinks she is a nut so he calls her “Nutmeg”.
Meggie obtains work as a teacher at a nearby mountain town Hot Sulphur Springs. She keeps running into Ethan and realizes she loves him, but is unable to have a normal relationship with him due to her life in Boston. To his shock, Ethan falls in love with his Nutmeg, but thinks she loves someone named Edward. However, although he makes little progress breaking through her barriers though he sees the physical signs of abuse on her, Boston arrives in Colorado to finish what was started several years ago.
With the abuse and the Jane Eyre spin, Joann Sundell provides a fresh Reconstruction Era romance starring a woman who prays for a normal life but believes she is so damaged that is impossible. The story line is character driven by Meggie, but enhanced by a strong secondary cast especially Ethan. Although the villain coming from Boston to Colorado to finish what he started seems initially unnecessary as he holds the cards and makes the rules, but Ms. Sundell also insures he comes across as a miscreant with an obsessive compulsive disorder. Fans will root for Nutmeg to emulate her heroine.