Not quite five star material, but still a pretty good read
The Tiger’s Woman starts in late 1869 San Francisco as Mary Smith is on the run from her past. In disguise she takes work as a dance hall girl and attracts the attention of business man/entrepreneur Jason Drake (nicknamed the Tiger for his ruthless reputation with women, business and gambling), but she runs from him to Seattle, Washington Territory (what fun, my home town!) where Jason eventually finds her. Still terrified that the man from her past will find her she accepts Jason’s offer of protection and goes to live with him on his island in the San Juan’s, where Jason lives with his mother, son and quite a group of misfits who have also come to the island for reasons of their own. Jason was widowed when his wife died in childbirth and his son Jamie bears the scars of Jason’s disinterest and has also grown up with the hatred bred into him by his grandmother. Mary’s gentle but strong willed nature soon bridges the gap between father and son and the three strive to build a new life together. However, the abuse Mary suffered at the hands of the man from her past always threatens to sever the relationship, especially as Mary’s fears become real and he begins to manipulate Jason’s investments in an attempt to destroy him and return to take Mary away.
There’s actually a whole lot more to it than that but to give away much more of Mary’s past would blow the plot right out of the water and I’m not into spoilers. Suffice it to say that while not the fastest paced book, it was highly enjoyable and I very much enjoyed how both Jason and Mary were able to heal the wounds of their respective pasts and move forward into a new and stronger relationship. De Blasis also deals with the sensitive issue of a woman abused from an early age and how it affect’s one’s life and relationships with others (and not just men) and how she can heal and overcome that past for a healthier future.
I also very much enjoyed the visits to old San Francisco, Seattle, Washington Territory, a logging operation or two, and the San Juan Islands. The author clearly did some research and even this Seattle native didn’t catch any Sleepless in Seattle like gaffes that distracted from the story. Lots of name dropping of our pioneer fathers – Asa Meeker, Pike, Boren and even one I never knew outside of a nightclub in Pioneer Square, Doc Maynard! If you’re looking for a fast paced racy read, this probably isn’t for you but if you want to sit back and enjoy a well crafted tale and don’t mind a chapter or two (or three) of detailed descriptions of day to day life in the 1870’s than this is worth checking out. Note, while I wouldn’t quite call this a “bodice ripper” Mary and Jason did enjoy a healthy physical relationship and I wouldn’t recommend it for a younger reader.