I only discovered this author in the last several months and since then I have devoured all her books. All consistently get 5 stars from me. All are well researched, brilliantly written, amazing stories that will hold you in their grasp. But this one deeply affected me. I think it will you as well.
San Francisco in 1915 is a "city of dreams," a place of possibilities, and the site of the great Panama-Pacific International Exposition. Three young women come to the city to find a better life. First, there is 17-year-old Thais, very poor but proud and determined to bring about a better world. She has lost everything including her beloved sister to a horrible death she witnessed. But she holds onto her principles and convictions and even the betrayal of the man she loves does not stop her. Then there is 23-year-old Ellie, the wayward daughter of a Midwest preacher, who wants to be good but finds she loves to be bad. She comes to San Francisco hoping for a fresh start but can't quite seem to achieve it. Lastly, there is Garnet. At 35, she considers herself a spinster. Raised in Vancouver to be a lady, her parents never understood the shy girl and embarrassed by her sometimes odd behavior, isolated and rejected her. She stole the family jewels and escaped to San Francisco, wanting her own life. But never having learned to live, she is a recluse, her only companion a cat. They all end up at the home of dear Mrs. Carter, a widow who is willing to take in girls who need a hand.
Crenshaw masterfully weaves these three stories together while she immerses you in San Francisco's life and culture and a nation on the brink of war with Germany. You will feel like you lived that year, I promise. There is so much research poured into this novel and set forth in such an alluring way, I just can't say enough good about it.
I haven't said much about the heroes, but they are certainly part of the story: three complex men with their own dreams and their own stories. How they come to know these women is a fascinating story.
It's a story of life's choices, of those who live courageously and those who live as cowards. A story of those who show kindness and those who do not. Those who would use others and those who would give. Those who choose love, though it is a difficult path, and those who choose a lesser life. I couldn't help mourn over Ellie's choices and celebrate those of Thais and Garnet. It made me want to start over again, to try and do better, to use everything God has given me. To think a romance author can so move a reader to bring about that kind of emotion tells you just how good Nadine Crenshaw is. I highly recommend this one and all her romances (see list below and my reviews of her other books).
More by Nadine Crenshaw I recommend:
MOUNTAIN MISTRESS (Golden Heart Winner; 1987)
CAPTIVE MELODY (1988)
EDIN'S EMBRACE (1989)
DESTINY AND DESIRE (1992)
THE HIGHWAYMAN (1993)
VIKING GOLD (1995)
FIELDS OF THE SUN (1997)