The Parlor House Daughter
Joanne Sundell, . . Five Star, $25.95 (289pp) ISBN 978-1-59414-722-7
Sundell's latest historical romance is a rich, exciting exploration of old but trustworthy themes, set on the edge of the 19th-century frontier. Rebecca Rose, the daughter of a Nevada City prostitute, is determined to carry on with the life of easy virtue herself until she can avenge her mother's murder. When Rose and a client, wealthy and powerful Morgan Larkspur, unexpectedly fall in love, it's not what either of them want. But when Rose's quest for vengeance intersects with Larkspur's familial obligations, the results may be disastrous for them both. Despite relying on classic stereotypes—the wealthy but hands-on businessman, the hooker with the heart of gold and, of course, a sinister villain—Sundell delivers a strong story set in the quintessential frontier town. Genre fans will be delighted, but the mystery surrounding Rose's mother's death will be self-evident to astute readers. The harsh conclusion feels rushed and a little too tidy—omitting some of the minor characters right at the point when they are most likely to be heard—but this is historical romance of a satisfying order.
Reviewed on: 09/08/2008