Set in the Middle West, not too far out of Chicago (though not yet connected by rail), Nell Lillington's story as an unwed, pregnant 17-year-old in the merchant class of society, begins. The narrative voice is very strong here, and consistent throughout. The historical detail woven into the story adds to its realism without ever being oppressive or unnecessary. The writing style and formatting is strong and very well done. The entire novel, from the beginning to the ending acknowledgments feels quite professional and thorough. It does not display any of the grammatical pitfalls and errors that so much of the self-publishing world is riddled with. The murderous plot and villain certainly are horrifyingly grim, but the book is well balanced with plenty of uplifting and positive characters (there are a lot of strong female characters here!). The murder mystery does not dominate the novel, and it really is Nell's coming to independence and her personal journey that is the focus here - she is such a likable character that I am already looking forward to the sequel!