From the Author
This adventure is one which came about when I read a post by fellow writer and blogger AndreaDowning, whose post about the Harvey Girls in January of this year inspired meto write about a heroine who took that particular route in going west.
I had at the back of my mind, ever since finishing Daughter of Texas, that I should have one of the Boston Vinings come west and discover the old family scandal. But how to do it? A young lady teacher? Done that ... and so have a lot of other scribblers of frontier adventures. But a young lady of impeccably respectable background deciding to contract as a Harvey Girl? Such a young lady must have had a terribly good reason for taking such a desperate step, and so within a matter of weeks, I had worked out a plot which would account for this. TheFred Harvey Company was truly a novel, forward-thinking organization, particularlyinspired in the way it offered respectable and well-paid employment to youngwomen with a taste for adventure. Twelve-hour shifts, six days a week ofwaiting tables does seem like very hard work, but in comparison to the laborrequired of a woman on a farm, or in domestic service, it may have been a walkin the park by comparison - especially considering the various up-to-the-minuteconveniences which Fred Harvey made available to employees. Most people who have heard of the Harvey Girls today know of them through the Judy Garland musical - but that was a late addition to the Harvey legend.
From the Back Cover
On a mild spring morning in 1884, just short of her 21st birthday, the ordered and respectable life of Sophia Brewer fell apart, without any warning. The orphaned daughter of a well-established old Boston family fallen on difficult times, she thought herself cherished by her older brother, and loved for herself by the fiancée who abruptly broke their engagement. But worse was yet to come. Within the space of weeks, Sophia - abandoned by fiancée, friends and family, threatened by unwilling confinement to the insane asylum - had only one chance at escape and survival. That was to travel the steel rails towards the sunset; a journey into the newly-tamed Wild West, working for the Fred Harvey Company as a waitress in a railroad restaurant concession on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe. Finding freedom and independence as a Harvey Girl comes at a cost for Sophia; she must break with her background of privilege. But even out in the West, there are still decades-old scandalous family secrets ... secrets and events which might still threaten Sophia Brewer and the man who means to court her, and give her the life that she had once expected.