The Spinster and the Madam (Deception and Greed in the Old West)
The Chili Queen by Sandra Dallas. Emma is a thirty-something spinster who sets out to marry a man she’s only corresponded with, but never met. Her brother thinks she’s a twit and minces no words about his opinions of her when he helps Emma board a train to Nalgitas, New Mexico in the late 1800s. He makes sure she sits next to a respectable woman during the train ride to keep his naïve sister safe. That woman, however, ain’t no lady. She’s Addie French, a madam at a brothel called The Chili Queen. When Emma reaches Nalgitas, instead of her dream man waiting for her, she discovers a note calling the whole thing off. Poor Emma can’t return to her brother with the bad attitude. She does the only thing she can think of and sets off to find Addie at The Chili Queen, which she thinks is a boarding house. Addie agrees to take Emma in and together they develop a plan that involves secrets, deceptions, greed, and justice.
While I liked The Chili Queen, I have to be honest that one particularly dark part cast a shadow on the entire book. Granted, there were several dark parts in The Diary of Mattie Spenser, which I loved. In fact, one scene was very disturbing, but the rest of the book pulled me through it. However, I have to cry foul regarding the brutal portion in The Chili Queen. It was unnecessary roughness and seemed out of place in this type of book. Don’t get me wrong, I still liked it. I still recommend it, just be prepared for a nasty bump in the road.
Of the three Sandra Dallas books I’ve read, I give the following ratings:
The Chili Queen – Good
The Diary of Mattie Spenser – Very Good!
The Persian Pickle Club – The Best!!
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