Chance takes chances; she's unafraid to push the dictates of the genre to write a winner. She's created a different type of heroine, a woman afraid of her past yet determined to survive (à la Scarlett O'Hara). She drinks, runs whores for a saloon and becomes the owner's lover, all the while protecting her dark secrets. As atypical as she is, readers will be fascinated by her first-person account, told through flashbacks.
Soon she's training girls to sing on the saloon's stage, managing the back rooms and sleeping with Johnny. She drinks to forget, and after four years has become hard as nails. But she yearns to lift her voice in song and joins the church choir. Joy returns, but so does her past. Sabine has the opportunity to reclaim her lost love, but does she have the courage? (THREE RIVERS, Dec., 432 pp., $15.00)