A Reason to Sin
Rebecca Colfax is searching for her husband Benjamin, who abandoned her after losing her inheritance at the gambling tables. Her search brings her to Oaktree, Kansas, and the Scarlet Garter saloon, where she takes a job as a singer and dancer to earn money to continue her search. The Scarlet Garter is a typical frontier saloon, with booze, gambling, and prostitution, but it’s well-run, and Rebecca is treated with dignity.
Though Rebecca is wary of gamblers, she can’t help but notice Slater Forrester, one of the saloon’s dealers. Likewise, he can’t help but notice Rebecca, who’s a fish out of water at the Scarlet Garter. As their attraction grows, a gang of outlaws makes an attempt to extort “insurance payments” from the saloon. Can Slater use his training as a former Pinkerton agent during the Civil War to figure out who’s behind the scheme?
McKade delves into issues of post-Civil War race relations by including two African-American supporting characters: Simon, a talented piano player and former slave, and Georgia, a dancer who grew up free in Chicago. The romance between Rebecca and Slater is very sensual, and the suspenseful plot keeps the story moving.