Twice a widower, Aileen Miller is the mother of two children. While she'd loved her first husband, he'd been murdered over a land dispute in Ireland. Aileen fled to the United States and settled in Sumpter, Oregon, where she remarried.
Her new husband beat her before being murdered as well. When the town's folk believe her to be the killer, she is shunned.
Ethan Halsey is the eldest son of the Halsey clan who, after his parents' double murder, has been taking care of his brothers. When he hits on the idea to create a stamp mill on Aileen's property as a means of securing his family's future, he learns she's not so keen on selling whether the price is fair or not.
They strike a compromise. One that puts them in each other's paths often. Amid accidents, bigotry and violence, Ethan and Aileen come to love and respect each other.
However, they both agree marriage is out of the question. Not only does Aileen want to move back to Ireland to reclaim the land that should rightfully belong to her son, she is scared to death of marrying again. For his part, Ethan feels he has his hands full caring for his brothers.
That would be well and good if the two could stay away from each other! The question is, with such different life plans can they find a way to be together?
Miner in Petticoats is rich in character and setting and reading it feels a bit like taking a walk through a history museum. I've read a lot of american historical fiction and felt this story was well-researched.
The set up was interesting and believable and the conflict was strong. I felt there was good character development and enjoyed the children's characters.
My only issue with the story, was the murders and violence. Both of Aileen's husbands and Ethan's parents were murdered (not during the story, but in the set up). Then murder crops up again later. So if there were a theme it would be murder and I don't think that was Ms. Jager's intention.
At any rate, it was a well-done story and well worth reading.
Shouldering the burdens of his family and the mining community, Ethan Halsey devotes himself to providing for the growing families of his brothers.
However, Aileen Miller, a widow, also looking out for her family’s interests, refuses to part with the land he needs. As they battle—one to push his dream to reality and the other to prove no man will hurt her again—their lives become enmeshed and their hearts collide.
332 Pages, Spicy