Beyond the Ashes – Karen Barnett


book review of "Beyond the Ashes" by Karen BarnettDeb’s Dozen: Widowed Ruby’s off to San Francisco—will she find her heart’s desires?

Ruby Marshall became a widow when one of those new-fangled automobiles startled the horse her husband, Charlie, was riding and threw him to his death. The boundaries of her life in Sacramento are too tight, so she goes off to San Francisco to help her brother, Robert King, with his cancer research. The year is 1906 and the city is in the throes of rebuilding after the disastrous earthquake and fire that devastated the area.

She arrives at the ferry dock where her brother is to meet her only to discover that Robert’s fiancée, Abby Fischer, is with him as is his partner, Dr. Gerald Larkspur. Abby is a total surprise to Ruby—Robert’s told his family nothing of his plans. Totally in shock, Ruby almost faints once and almost again when she sees the transportation home—Gerald’s red automobile. And to top that off, they’re living at Gerald’s home, not Robert’s apartment as she’d expected.

What a start to her new life in San Francisco. But Ruby is built of strong stock and she surmounts the obstacles. Abby is delightful and Gerald seems a nice gentleman although he reminds her of her Charlie. As a nurse, Ruby quickly fits in at the hospital helping Gerald and Robert and working with Abby in the homeless camp.

Beyond the Ashes is the second novel in Karen Barnett’s Golden Gate Chronicles. You may want to read the first, Out of the Ruins (see my review), to read the events of the earthquake and fire and how Abby and Robert met and fell in love. Barnett has obviously done her research: the setting, the problems of the time, the medical research in the early 1900s—all are accurate and compelling.

Barnett also has the gift of creating believable, complex characters who soon seem like you’ve known them forever—they’ve become friends because you’ve found yourself transported back in time to that era. And Otto the dachshund, Ruby’s dog, delighted me. Our first mini-dachshund’s name when we got him was Otto—quickly changed to Cocoa! She writes the dog perfectly.

You’ll love The Golden Gate Chronicles—and enjoy getting to know Ruby and Gerald and Patrick and Abby and Robert. Five Stars!

To purchase Beyond the Ashes, click the link: Beyond the Ashes: The Golden Gate Chronicles – Book 2

Abingdon Press and the Litfuse Publicity Group gave me a copy of Beyond the Ashes in exchange for my candid review.


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