In this second volume of her Irish Blessings series, novelist Williams (Walls for the Wind, 2016, etc.) focuses on Irish immigrant Devin Cavanaugh and biracial saloonkeeper Dulcinetta Jackson as they make lives for themselves in the Wyoming Territory.
Construction on the Union Pacific has moved on. In fact, the golden spike has finally been hammered in. Devin, raised an orphan and street urchin in New York City, has thus lost his railroad job and now works for a freight outfit out of Bryan City. One of the regular delivery routes for him and mule skinner Caleb Wilson is to South Pass City in gold mining country. One soggy morning, they are forced to take Luther Brandingham III, a young passenger who, they will find out, is Dulcinetta Jackson’s son. Devin is smitten the moment he sets eyes on the comely Dulcie. She owns the freighting business and learned canny business skills from her aunt and mentor, Lou Schering. Seeing Caleb as the grifter and drunkard that he is, she makes Devin the boss, Caleb the underling. A very sore loser, Caleb enlists some Sioux to ambush the next freight run. Almost everything is lost, and Devin barely survives. But Caleb isn’t done. He confronts Dulcie at gunpoint. What happens then shows a Dulcie who is almost preternaturally calm and crafty. Anyway, times are changing, and Devin and Dulcie move to Bryan City to begin a new chapter in their lives. Other characters needing mention are Xiang Ju, Dulcie’s stiff-necked servant, and Ailis Tierney, Devin’s friend from the orphan days, and perhaps we haven’t seen the last of them. Williams writes quite well and is very good at detailing that time and place and making us root for Devin and Dulcinetta. Dulcinetta especially is a marvelous creation, and her confrontation with that fool Caleb is alone worth the price of admission. And the way Luther takes to Devin and vice versa is heartwarming.
For wonderful period details, a tender love story, and frontier humor, this continuing saga is highly recommended.