A young woman shows how far she’ll go to save her daughter from an awful fate.
It's 1905. Lottie Chase, who was molested and impregnated by her uncle Edward, will do anything to protect her 10-year-old daughter, Elsa, from suffering as she did. She's been working at Coney Island for a decade when she takes Elsa and runs off with Rupert Gennick, a man she considers a friend, but when he finds out she doesn't want more than his friendship, he steals her money and abandons the two of them penniless in Denver. Desperate, Lottie goes to Elitch’s Gardens, an amusement park owned by Mary Elitch Long, who takes them in and gives Lottie a job over the objections of gardener Caleb Hudson, almost a son to Mary, who thinks Lottie is a hustler looking to cheat his boss. Lottie works hard, and she and Caleb are attracted to each other despite the distrust between them. But Gennick, a liar and cheat determined to use Lottie’s new position to make money, threatens to tell her uncle where they are unless she goes along with his plans. Caleb, who suffers flashbacks to his service in the Spanish-American War, slowly overcomes his suspicions and gets Lottie to open her heart to him as they work to solve her problems.
The standard love story is greatly enriched by the historical details Nowak (Changes, 2013) provides on the real-life Elitch’s Gardens, which existed from 1890 to 1994, when it was moved closer to downtown Denver.