In the final book of her Westward Winds trilogy, Amanda Cabot focuses on Elizabeth, the young and most outspoken of the three Harding sisters. Since no woman could go through the rigors of medical school without learning how to stand up for herself, Elizabeth's sharp tongue makes her some quick enemies but also staunch allies while setting up her doctor's practice in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Though they start off on the wrong foot, Jason Nordling, the handsome young lawyer next door, quickly learns to appreciate her as more than a quick wit surrounded by a pretty package. It proves difficult, though, to keep a woman doctor's reputation spotless when she is off to bordellos treating prostitutes and nursing men overnight in her surgery.
Elizabeth is a fun character - she does not back down from a fight, and will even butt into a conversation to make her opinion plain when she feels she is in the right. Even Jason, a well-spoken, convincing lawyer, has trouble besting her in a debate. However, while she is decidedly opinionated and bold in her assertions, she does not lack in compassion and can be quite tactful when the occasion calls for it, which softens her character and makes her very likeable.
Like the two books before this, there is a touch of danger and suspense, but I would say it is primarily a historical read, and like Waiting for Spring, a fun glimpse of early Cheyenne. Apparently Wyoming was one of the most progressive states in the country by allowing women the vote as of 1869, so it is an appropriate setting for a female doctor to apply her trade. Including a map of city with locations relevant to the story was helpful, since Elizabeth does a fair amount of traveling around the city.
Though it is only a minor part of the book, I like how the author (through Elizabeth) deals with gossip and trash-talking. Early on, before Elizabeth and Jason become friends, there are two separate occasions in which Elizabeth encounters people who are rude to Jason for his part in the Bennett Trial scandal. Even though she doesn't even like Jason yet, she butts in to halt the gossip and goes a step further by making Jason feel welcome. I find it hard stopping gossip when I'm actually included in a conversation - stepping into one that I've only overheard? And to do it for someone I don't care for? That takes incredible guts. It's certainly what we ought to do, but do we do it?
Of the three books of the series, I still like Summer of Promise best, but With Autumn's Return is a suitable conclusion to the series. I was glad Cabot chose to find a good man for Gwen this time around, and she is suitably wary after her disastrous romance in Waiting for Spring. That Harrison Landry returns for this story was also a pleasure. At the end we finally get to see all three sisters together, even if it is only in the epilogue, for a glimpse of how they interact when all three are in the same place. 4 out of 5 stars
Revell for providing me with a free copy for the purpose of review; I
was not required to make it positive, and all opinions are my own.
1. Summer of Promise
2. Waiting for Spring
3. With Autumn's Return
I would also recommend That Certain Spark by Cathy Marie Hake for another good story about female doctors in the late 1800's.