cover image Trailblazer


Anna Schmidt. Sourcebooks Casablanca, $7.99 mass market (384p) ISBN 978-1-4926-6704-9

Schmidt (the Last Chance Cowboys series) builds this middling romantic western around strong and plucky farm girl Grace Rogers, who travels to New Mexico to become a Harvey Girl, one of the first waitresses of the Old West. On her way there, she meets Nick Hopkins, a handsome rancher. Harvey Girls aren’t allowed to be married, and Grace wants to send money home to her family, but the promise of romance tempts her all the same. Descriptions of Grace’s job are the novel’s high points, and readers who have worked in restaurants will be able to connect with her plights, such as fending off rude customers and having to learn the job on the fly. Though the romantic plot has a bit of a lackluster start, it develops well. Readers may have to suspend their disbelief when the story acquires a third layer involving attempted rape and murder, and Grace’s career falls somewhat by the wayside, but it’s easy to identify with Grace’s yearning for money, happiness, adventure, independence, and love. Easygoing western romance readers will cheer for this good-hearted heroine to achieve all her dreams. Agent: Natasha Kern, Natasha Kern Literary. (Jan.)