FORGIVING by LaVyrle Spencer
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Crippling sexual inhibitions and the domestication of a gold-rush town, circa 1875, are the subjects of this romance maven's third hard-cover turn. The place is Deadwood, to which comes one Sarah Merritt via the stagecoach from St. Louis. Her principal piece of baggage is her beloved late father's printing press, on which she plans to produce the Deadwood Chronicle. From the moment of her arrival, though, a veritable storm-cloud of trouble surrounds her, since she's one of only a handful of women in the Godforsaken place and the men take her for a lady of the night. She causes a riot when the town marshal, Noah Campbell, tries to close her printing operation down (since she hasn't procured a license), and she gets back at him by writing an editorial suggesting he's an immoral man who frequents local brothels. She visits one herself soon, in order to reclaim her baby sister Adelaide, who ran away from home some years ago to become a "soiled dove." Ultimately, Addy is saved by an old beau, to whom she opens up about the reason for her degradation: Apparently, her father sexually abused her. Meanwhile, Sarah and Noah fall in love, despite earlier differences, but when she learns what papa Merritt did to Addy, it turns Sarah frigid. By the close, both sisters sort out their erotic problems--with Addy becoming magically purified in the eyes of her childhood sweetheart, and Sarah thawing under the ministrations of the lawman. Freudian therapy would have been more interesting. Still, Spencer's fans are legion--and will probably consume this psychologically anachronistic tale with customary relish.

Pub Date: Feb. 14th, 1990
ISBN: 399-13599-5
Publisher: Putnam
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