Sophia Bidershem, a teen-aged heiress in late nineteenth century Detroit, was taken advantage of by a predatory older man and bore a daughter outside of marriage. To avoid a forced marriage, she runs away with the Daughter, Caira, always fearing her predator might find them. Taking the name Sophie Biddle and pretending that the now-two-year-old Caira is her sister, she arrives destitute in Stone Creek, Michigan, to take a job in a boarding house and start a new life.
Her pleasant personality, competence, and obvious love for Caira quickly win her friends, but she feels guilty for lying about her status, and she lives in fear of being found by the girl’s ruthless father.
The young minister Ian McCormick provides Sophie charitable help and is instantly attracted to her. But Ian has hidden secrets of his own, secrets that leave him as guilt-ridden as Sophie. He tries unsuccessfully to assuage his guilt feelings through good works. Sophie’s presence and their growing attraction to each other only complicate his situation.
Kathleen Rouser threads this story skillfully from that point, surrounding her protagonists with a colorful group of well-drawn secondary characters, introducing new conflicts, and building to a thrilling climax and satisfying denouement, all the while weaving in the spiritual dimensions of her characters. The result is an always-interesting, well-written romance that will keep readers turning the pages.
Review by Donn Taylor, author of Murder Mezzo Forte, Lightning on a Quiet Night, etc.