In 1880s Chicago, 22-year-old Pearl Hossfuss entertains no illusions that she is marriage material after an accident scars her physically. She is no longer her father's princess but a burden and a duty. Teaching at a school for poor inner-city children provides her only solace. When her father arranges a marriage with a man who leaves her cold, Pearl answers an advertisement for a frontier teaching position and flees to untamed Dakota Territory.
Frightened, Pearl finds a refuge of faith and love at Dove House, a former brothel turned hotel. Romance takes her by surprise in the form of a shy, intelligent carpenter from Minnesota.
Readers of the first in this series, Ruby, will enjoy further acquaintance with the indomitable Ruby Torvald and her gaggle of reformed harlots at Dove House. However, the plot of this sequel is episodic and disjointed, the heroine less than engaging and the conclusion disappointing. (Apr., 320 pp., $12.99)
Jill Elizabeth Nelson