Thursday, May 8, 2014

'All in Good Time' by Maureen Lang

All in Good Time (The Gilded Legacy, #2)
Dessa Caldwell has a dream: to open Pierson House, a refuge for former prostitutes in Denver’s roughest neighborhood. But after exhausting all charitable donations, Dessa still needs a loan, and nearly every bank in town has turned her down. Her last hope hinges on the owner of Hawkins National Bank.

Henry Hawkins has a secret: though he owns the most successful bank in town, his initial capital came from three successful raids on Wells Fargo coaches. Now he’s the most eligible bachelor in Denver, but to protect his criminal past, he’s built a fortress around his heart. Not even the boldest matchmaking mother can tempt him . . . until the day Dessa Caldwell ventures into his bank requesting a loan.

Though he’s certain her proposal is a bad investment, Henry is drawn to Dessa’s passion. But that same passion drives her to make rash decisions about Pierson House . . . and about whom she can trust. One man might hold the key to the future of her mission—but he also threatens to bring Henry’s darkest secrets to light. As the walls around their hearts begin to crumble, Henry and Dessa must choose between their plans and God’s, between safety and love

Henry Hawkins is the sort of guy we might nominate for Young Achiever or Young Businessman of the Year, if he lived in modern times. Only 30 years old, he is a wealthy and successful bank founder and handsome as well. Clients have never guessed the secret about his past, which keeps him always on edge. Twelve years earlier, he'd committed a couple of stage coach robberies to give him a head start in business. Even though he has long since anonymously donated it all back, guilt and fear of discovery drive him to live like a recluse, watch his back and trust nobody.

Dessa Caldwell is anxious to finance her dream to open a refuge house for working girls who long to start over with a clean slate. So far, all the banks she's approached have failed to give her a loan, and now she's about to try Hawkins National. She also wants to make up for a grievous mistake she committed years ago, with the brother of her mentor.

I liked the structure of this book. Although brimming with secrets, it is not a mystery novel. The reader is well aware of what both Henry and Dessa conceal. The intrigue is in watching them skirt around each other, each assuming that the other has always been a pillar of society. That was enough to keep me turning the pages to find out how all would be revealed. Dessa is a beautiful character, inside and out. Her impatience to change lives for the better, along with her warm heart and self-doubt made me want things to turn out well for her. The romantic element was very satisfying.

It was interesting to share her puzzlement and disappointment when young women didn't flock in droves to her refuge house, as she expected. Although set in the 1800s, there is a lot we can learn about advertising and promotion skills, motivation and patience. There were other good characters to support the main two. Henry's uncle and employee, the kindly Tobias Ridgeway is great. Then there is Turk Foster, the likeable rake who runs a shady business and plans to worm his way into politics, and Jane, the poor girl desperate enough to attempt something very foolish. I'd be happy to read more about all of them.

4 stars
All in Good Time available at Amazon

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