Bethany House, 2012
Reviewed by Marian Baay
Jody Hedlund takes the reader to the lumber town Harrison where Connell McCormick is the boss-man of his father’s lumber business. Harrison is a town full evil. There are lots of brothels for the many shanty boys. One of them is run by an evil man named James Carr. He kidnaps young women and forces them into prostitution.
Connell doesn’t like the brothels, but believes that they are a necessary evil to keep the shanty boys satisfied.
Lily Young is a young woman of 18 years old. She has lost her parents and her only remaining family is her younger sister Daisy. When they were too old for the orphanage, Lily found a job with Oren and Betsy—an older couple. Daisy was going to live with a family while Lily was trying to make enough money for them to begin their own life. Betsy died and Lily remained with Oren and helped him with his photography business. When Lily received a letter from Daisy that she left the family she lived with to find a job in prostitution, Lily was shocked and determined to find her sister and get her out of the life she has chosen.
In the winter Oren is visiting the lumber town to take photographs of the shanty boys. Lily is traveling with him as his assistant, meanwhile searching for her sister in the brothels – without luck so far.
When they visit Harrison they are staying in the Northern Hotel, where Lily meets Connell for the first time. They are attracted to each other, but both are trying to convince themselves a relationship will never work, because they are so different. Lily wants to fight injustice, but Connell thinks there is not much he can do to change anything.
Soon Lily is searching the Harrison brothels in the hope to find her sister. While doing this, she is witness of how a girl is kidnapped by Carr’s wife. Lily is going after the girl without telling anyone and gets stranded in a snowstorm and needs rescuing herself. When Connell finds her she is unconscious and suffering from hypothermia. He needs to get her warm again and finds a shelter for them where they will have to stay until the storm is calming and someone will come to rescue them.
After they get back to town rumors are spreading about Connell and Lily together in their shelter. Rumors are traveling to Connell’s parents’ home and his brother is coming to deliver a message from their father.
When Connell’s brother meets Lily he thinks he has seen her before, but it seems that he has met Lily’s sister and knows where to find her.
A rescue plan is made, but will it all work out alright? Will Lily come in time and get Daisy out without being seen – and keep her safe?
What troubles are waiting for Lily and Connell? And will their attraction grow into something more? When Connell has to choose between helping Lily fighting injustice and his responsibility for his father’s business – what will he choose?
I really enjoyed this story – loved Lily and Connell and loved the secondary characters Oren, Vera and Stuart. Based on a real event, the story was very realistic. It broached the tough subject of prostitution, but Jody surely handled it well.
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