THE MEASURE OF A LADY
A new opportunity out west is marred by the death of Rachel van Buren's father, leaving her to care for her siblings in unruly San Francisco. With mud streets, fallen women everywhere and gold dust as prevalent as gambling and whiskey, this is a town full of sinners -- but Rachel must somehow provide for her family.
Saloon proprietor Johnnie Parker isn't impressed with the "sunbonnet" who takes over his shanty. Though Rachel is prim, she's also opinionated and pious -- and Johnnie is drawn to her. But can he leave his wealthy businesses and trust God? Gist's imagery is believable and her characters strong, but the tone feels too contemporary. While the heroine may be overly pious at times, the hero never forsakes his feelings, suffering and changing for her. The blossoming romance is sure to cause a giggle. (May, 352 pp., $19.99)