In 1899 New Mexico, a waitress with a questionable past falls in love with a straight-laced lawman.
This is the second book in Schmidt’s (Trailblazer, 2019) Cowboys & Harvey Girls series, which focuses on a less-well-known aspect of frontier living. In the late 1800s, Fred Harvey established a chain of “eating houses” along the railroad lines to newly established frontier towns. Lily Travis is one of the young, single women of “good moral character” hired to serve meals and live in company housing in Juniper, New Mexico. After fleeing an abusive stepfather in Chicago and being hastily married to and then ditched by an unscrupulous stranger, she fears she has missed her chance at love and family. Sheriff Cody Daniels is attracted to Lily, but he’s a by-the-book lawman with political ambitions. When one of Lily’s co-workers at the Harvey Company is murdered, she turns to Cody for help. The murderer is pure evil, and everyone else is pure goodness. Lily frets that other men “only knew how to take what they wanted, and in the process, they robbed me of my ability to trust,” but she and Cody are too honorable to actually fight over misunderstandings or hold grudges.
Competent writing and an unusual historical setting are marred by flat characters and a dull romance.