Hoping for a fresh start, single mom, Violet Lynn Parker has moved to Deadwood, South Dakota, and is currently staying with Aunt Zoe. Violet has been working at Calamity Jane Realty for two months and has yet to sell a house. As the story opens, Violet has three weeks to sell a house before she loses her job to Ray Underhill's nephew. Mona Hollister, Violet's coworker, is wonderful and would do anything to help her make a sell. However, chauvinistic Ray continuously puts Violet down to her face, while stealing her clients behind her back.
At home, Violet is doing her best to raise young fraternal twins. Her son, Layne, is showing signs of someday becoming an archaeologist. Aunt Zoe is eager to see what the boy digs up and reassembles from her yard next. Violet's daughter, Adelynn "Addy", has two goals in life. She plans to become a veterinarian and to find her mom a husband. (Not in that order.) When Addy is not rescuing stray animals, she is selling homemade crafts on the sidewalk and using her earnings to place singles ads for her mom in the local newspaper.
Within the last year, three little girls, resembling Addy, have disappeared from the area. Fearing for the safety of her daughter, Violet begins using her (rare) spare time to do some research on the kidnapper. It soon becomes obvious that the villain is still in the area and Violet believes that the father of Addy's new best friend may be involved somehow.
Yet keeping a job must come first. Therefore, Violet is thrilled when Wolfgang Hessler asks her to sell his mother's house which sits in the historic presidential neighborhood. Even better, Wolfgang is very successful jeweler, very handsome, and very attracted to Violet. Then there is Dane "Doc" Nyce, who has Violet showing him several houses. Problem is that Doc hordes his words as if they were made of gold. It is near impossible for Violet to get a straight answer from the man, especially as to what type of house he is searching for. Doc simply enters a house, sniffs around like a bloodhound, and then wants Violet to show him another. Before long, Violet has committed herself to selling a deteriorating haunted house, romantically interested in two male clients, trying to stay sane while raising twins, and cajoled into having a weekly meal with Old Man Harvey. Could her life possibly get any crazier?
***** FIVE STARS! This gem has a bit of everything. I found mystery, romance, comedy, suspense, and even a bit of the paranormal. My synopsis only mentions a couple of the various subplots that the author keeps running in the background. They add flavor and a bit of intrigue to the Deadwood area setting. (This, to me, is already an interesting setting since the surrounding Black Hills are riddled with abandoned mining tunnels.) But it is the unusual cast of characters that really grabs and holds my attention. We have the gossiping old man, the cryptic house hunter, the humorous best friend who is on sabbatical from men, a secret admirer who sends daisies along with creepy poems, a sleazy coworker, and many more.
The main character of Violet is one that women can easily identify with, especially single mothers. Ann Charles has done a terrific job showing how difficult it is for a single woman to juggle life at work and home, while still having a bit of time to date. I found it to be well done and believable. Yet at the same time, the author has added the mystery and suspense that her readers crave. I am happy to state that this title is the first of a series. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for Violet and the eccentric residents of Deadwood. Ann Charles has a winner in Violet Parker. I have a new favorite author in the mystery genre! *****
Reviewed by Detra Fitch of Huntress Reviews.