Kathleen Y’Barbo takes us on a journey into the Colorado of the late 1800’s in this collection of stories. She brings the west to life and show us what life was like for women in this era especially women who wanted more than marriage and children. All three women in these stories are courageous strong women who know their own minds. They want a little adventure before settling down to get married and they make sure that they find it. They need strong men who are not intimidated by their intellect to help them find love.
In the first story, “The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper”, Eugenia decides to leave her life of luxury in New York and take a position as a temporary governess in Colorado. Eugenia has every intention of resuming her life in New York, but fate has other plans for her. Daniel Beck is looking for someone to watch his daughter and help her become a young lady. He doesn’t expect to be so attracted to the woman he sees in the dry good store nor does he expect the governess to demand he leave his silver mine in order to spend time with his daughter. The second story, “Anna Finch and the Hired Gun”, revolves around Anna Finch who wants nothing more than to be a journalist—she just has to figure out what she is going to write about and how to get published. Her father doesn’t think it is ladylike and hires a Pinkerton agent to watch over her. Jeb Sanders joined the Pinkertons because he has a strong sense of justice. Jeb never expected to play babysitter for a spoiled woman let alone one who speaks her mind is as stubborn as a mule. The third story, “The Inconvenient Marriage of Charlotte Beck”, reintroduces us to Charlotte Beck, the daughter who needed a governess in the first book. Charlotte has grown up and wants to attend college and then take her rightful place in her grandfather’s business. She knows she has the intellect, but with all of the ways she finds to get in trouble, her father doubts her maturity. Alexander Humbley is responsible for his entire family and their finances. His older twin is supposed to inherit, but suffers from nightmares and personality changes after the war. Alexander doesn’t know what he is going to do, but the young lady who continually ends up causing him trouble doesn’t seem to be the answer. I loved each of these stories. The women are very different, but they embody the adventuring spirit of the pioneers. They highlight the struggles that women who wanted more than just marriage and children had to endure to find a place for themselves in the world. The stories tie together so neatly in this anthology. The characters reappear in each story. There are religious messages throughout the stories, but they don’t preach at you. Each of these women has a deep faith and their belief in God and his power help them through some difficult times. They trust that God has a plan for them and they find men who believe also which strengthens their bonds.