An aspiring doctor discovers romance and danger in the Klondike in this debut novel.
In the 1890s, the Klondike Gold Rush attracts scores of people to the Yukon Territory in northwest Canada, including Joseph Buchanan of San Francisco and his wife, Abigail “Abby” Porter. Intelligent and independent, Abby hoped to study medicine but married Joseph instead. Shortly after arriving in Dawson City, Joseph leaves Abby to stake his claim. When he is found dead, Abby is left with limited means of support. She takes a job at the Monte Carlo Hotel as an entertainer and meets Nathan “Nate” Brown, a doctor from Michigan who treats the women who work at the hotel. Impressed with her medical knowledge, he asks her to assist him, but she refuses his offer. When an abusive customer at the hotel is murdered, Nate becomes the prime suspect. But he is released after authorities discover alternate suspects. Nate and Abby pursue a romance, and she is soon pregnant. After she gives birth to a son, they move to Michigan so Abby can enroll in medical school. As the couple balance the responsibilities of school, research, and parenthood, temptations and a menacing figure from Nate’s past threaten the family. Wright’s accomplished novel is a historical romance bolstered by a strong narrative, well-developed characters, and a wealth of period details. Abby is a compelling heroine who is determined to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor. Her relationship with Nate develops slowly, strengthened by their interest in medicine and in spite of the misgivings of their families. The supporting characters are equally well-drawn, including Abby’s friends Albert Nicholson and his First Nations wife, Kate, and Dr. Julian Carothers, a medical school classmate of Nate’s whose resentment and jealously take a menacing turn. Spanning nearly a decade, the narrative follows the protagonists through several significant historical events, including the suffrage movement, the Klondike Gold Rush, and the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Although the tale relies heavily on flashbacks for character development, they provide valuable insights into the players and their motivations.
Fans of historical fiction should find this love story an adventure worth taking.