But I had been far more innocent than my flirtatious manner suggested, and therein lay my doom.

Nell Lillington’s got a big problem – her mother and stepfather have just discovered she’s pregnant and she’s not willing to name the father and enter into a marriage she doesn’t want. Nell’s stepfather is active in politics and the last thing he needs is a scandal, so he packs her off to a poor farm out in the country for her confinement. Nell settles in well at her new *home* and makes some interesting new friends (loved Tess!), but there’s soon a bit of a mystery to be solved when the older wing is opened and a pair of bodies is found in one of the cells. Were they locked in, or did they lock themselves in? How did they get into a section of the home that was securely locked? And just who would want to *do in* an unwed mother and her young child? Hmmmm?

The door slammed shut. I heard the spring bolt shoot into place with a hard thud. I leaped to my feet and screamed like I had never screamed in my entire life.

That’s about all I want to tell, going further would spoil the story. I liked this a lot, it was a quick easy read that kept me guessing; and there are more twists and turns after the evil baddie is revealed (my heart just about dropped when he did THAT). The 1870s Midwest setting was a refreshing change, and along with a look at life on a poor farm (it’s like its own mini-society), and the author also worked the Great Chicago Fire into the story.  I know I’m going to say this clumsily, but a huge thumbs up to the character of Tess, who suffered from Down’s Syndrome. It so refreshing to have a character with a handicap worked into the story and to watch the strong bond develop between Nell and Tess. Other big pluses were no formatting errors, nor even a typo to be found (if there were, I missed them), so thank you Ms. Steen for taking the time to polish it up, we readers really do care about things like that. The author’s notes at the end mention where the story idea came from and what was fact and what was not (always appreciated). My only real quibble is the story ended too soon. I wanted more, especially Martin (be still my beating heart). Thankfully there is a sequel in the works (whew).

Review copy provided by author, thank you.

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