Published by Lyrical Press on December 26th 2017
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
The ramshackle River Queen Hotel is home to vagabonds, gamblers, and heathens—and now, to new widow Rose Peterson. The rundown Gold Rush establishment is the only thing her late husband, Emmet, left her. Despite its raucous saloon and ladies of the evening, Rose can see the hotel’s potential. Her late husband’s family claim that sheltered Rose isn’t capable of running the Sacramento inn herself. But she is determined to make a new life for herself and her young daughter, even if it means flying in the face of custom and propriety. She feels as if she hasn’t a friend in the world.
Except, perhaps, one. Decatur “Deke” Fleming, a tall, lanky Australian who once served as Emmet’s farmhand. Pride prevents Deke from revealing his moneyed past; conscience keeps him from confessing his feelings for the still grieving widow. But when Rose is tempted by wealthy civic leader and hotel owner Mason Talbot, Deke may be the only person who can save her—and the one man capable of reviving her bruised and battered heart.
~~Reviewed by AnnMarie~~
River Queen Rose is the first book in the In Old California series by Shirley Kennedy.
Rose Peterson is the mother of one little girl and a woman who likes to keep the peace, especially with her in-laws who can be particularly trying. Finding herself a widow she decides that she wants to take over the running of the River Queen Saloon, left to her by her late husband. Its patrons are mostly gold miners who just want an easy feed, lots of alcohol, gambling, and the charm of the prostitutes that work there. The place is run down, filthy and no place for a lady. Despite her in-law’s disgust, Rose knows that she can make something of the place, turning it into a high-class establishment. She wants to clean up the place including removing the prostitutes. She needs to stop being a woman who likes to keep the peace, she needs to toughen up and she needs friends, but, will her new friends be ones that she can trust?
Deke Fleming is an Australian that worked on Rose’s farm left to her by her husband. As her in-laws have taken control of the place it isn’t long before they lay Deke off. Time enough though for him to meet Rose and for him to feel attracted to her. He manages to cheer her up a little and becomes one of her new friends, one she can definitely trust. He is her go-to guy when she needs to have a shoulder to cry on, advice, and a good listening ear. She’s even a little attracted to him, but they are just friends, right?
The story revolves around the relationships Rose makes with the people of her new hometown, the challenges she faces trying to get the saloon to be a respectable establishment, and perhaps find love, all while being looked down upon by her in-laws who even try to keep her daughter from her. It’s an emotion-filled story, one with some heart-wrenching scenes, others laugh out loud ones, and yet more that were beautifully sweet. I loved reading how Rose battled against adversity. The author easily made me love some characters and loathe others, then there was Rose: sometimes I really admired her, yet others I thought she was a shallow woman not worthy of a good man’s affections. I think it made her seem more real though, especially with all that she was going through in her life.
I only have one negative thing to say about the book which is that on a couple of occasions when aspects of the story were brought to their conclusion, they seemed too abrupt. I felt as if there was scope for much more detail. That said, I still enjoyed the story and definitely want to read the next in the series.
I voluntarily reviewed an advanced readers’ copy of this book.