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Becky White is out of options. Destitute, alone, and pregnant, employment in a brothel seems her only chance of survival in the wild west mining town of South Pass City. As she stands on the creek bank contemplating the unthinkable, fate takes a hand. The earth crumbles beneath her feel and pitches her into the raging torrent Unable to fight the high spring run-off, she surrenders to the flood, thinking death might be the best solution after all
When Garrick Swenson saves a young woman from drowning, he realizes providence has given him a way to atone for his guilty past. He offers Becky and her baby the protection of his name, with no strings attached. Just as they find themselves wanting a true marriage in every sense of the word the past surfaces to tear them apart. With Garrick facing the hangman’s noose and Becky’s future uncertain, it appears not even love can conquer all.
South Pass City, Wyoming Territory, 1870
Becky was out of options and she knew it. With the last of her money gone, it was only a matter of time until hunger drove her down to Beer Garden Gulch in search of a job in one of the saloons. It was stupid to wait any longer hoping for a miracle. Cameron wasn’t coming back.
She kicked a small rock into the creek and glanced down the street. There was already music and raucous laughter com-ing from the saloons. It wasn’t even dark out and business was booming. Obviously the owners would be too busy to talk to her now. Morning would surely be better.
With a relieved sigh, Becky sat down on a pile of sluice box tailings. There was no guarantee anybody down there would hire her anyway. No one else in town had. Too young, they said, or not enough experience. She’d heard some of the hurdy gurdy girls were almost as young as she was. Maybe it wouldn’t matter that she was tall and gangly with too much hair and not enough chest like her father always said.
Cameron hadn’t minded. In fact he’d made her feel beau-tiful and loved right up until he walked out of her life. Becky’s father said Cameron Price played her for a fool, taking what he wanted and never giving her another thought after he rode away. As the months passed and no word came, it began to look as though her father was right.
“Oh, Cameron,” she whispered into the twilight, “Would it have made any difference if you’d known about your son?”
Her hands moved over her softly rounding stomach. Within a month she wouldn’t be able to hide it any more and they wouldn’t even let her work in a brothel. Becky’s lips twisted, too young to work, but old enough to have a baby.
Maybe her father wasn’t far wrong when he called her a stupid little slut. His words and the hard slaps that followed were etched indelibly into her mind. Afterwards he had gone to work his shift in the mine and had never returned.
Becky closed her eyes and tried to conjure some regret for her father’s death. There was none. It had been over a month and she still couldn’t mourn him.
Her stomach rumbled painfully. Another night without food. She was almost used to it by now. With a deep sigh, Becky opened her eyes and watched the brilliant reds and golds of the sunset fade into cool, concealing darkness as the sun dipped below the hill.
The cold dampness of the ground beneath her began to soak through her skirt, but she ignored the discomfort as she savored the spring evening. The moist pungency of rich soil and the smell of wood smoke covered the other, less pleasant odors of man. Crickets chirped in the nearby grass, and an owl called to its mate over the roar of the swollen creek.
At last, some of the lights began to wink out. It was late and people were staggering home to bed. Though the saloons and bawdy houses would keep going until dawn, there was al-most total silence in the city of tents that made up a good por-tion of South Pass City. It was time to find a place to sleep.
Becky rose from the ground and walked to the edge of the creek. The spring run-off was at its highest. The placer miners had been watching it for days, anticipating the new gold it would wash out of the hills. She looked down at the normally insignificant stream that now roared by with awesome power. An entire tree rolled by, bobbing in the turbulent waters.
Suddenly, the ground crumbled under her feet and she slid down into the icy stream. The water choked off Becky’s scream as it closed over her face. Then her head collided with a solid object, and her thoughts sank into blessed darkness as she surrendered to the flood.
Meadowlark is a story of heartache and longing, honour and respect. The huge Norwegian, Garrick is so full of love for the young woman that he saved from death, that he holds back, afraid of hurting her. He is even willing to hang, to preserve her self-respect. Having no education and very little life-experience, Becky does not question any of Garrick’s noble actions. She does not see how much he adores her, because he leaves each time his emotions threaten to overwhelm his control. The plot is quite comprehensive, and readers will be taken by surprise many times. Carolyn Lampman develops both main and secondary characters a layer at a time, until readers become involved in the emotional conflicts. Even though these are simple people, this story is sure to be one that readers will remember fondly for its emotional impact. Their love is tender and true, with romantic imagery able to be visualised by the reader, not depicted in graphic detail. The conclusion is heart-wrenching, and had this reader bawling! Meadowlark has a sequel, Silver Springs, and both are definite keepers. I strongly urge readers who enjoy Western Historicals not to miss these two books.
Reviewed by: Naomi 5 Angels
Book Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
No. of Pages: 360
Paper Weight (lb): 15.0
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