Tattler’s Branch

Written by Jan Watson
Review by B. J. Sedlock

Lilly Corbett is the only doctor in a small town in 1911 Kentucky coal country. With her husband frequently away on mine inspection trips, she uses local assistants in her office, like her younger sister Mazy and neighbor Armina Tippen. Armina sets the story in motion when she witnesses the murder of a young mother and then steals the baby for its safety. Lilly discovers that the baby has multiple medical problems and arranges foster care. Unbeknownst to her, the baby’s father, Shade, wants his daughter back, and will stop at nothing to achieve it, including kidnapping Lilly.

Watson’s characters are more complex than average in the genre, though I found Mazy’s shallowness more annoying than humorous. The story’s drive moves at a good pace, and I liked learning about medical history in scenes where Lilly uses period remedies, like administering borax and glycerin to a baby with thrush. The ending makes a bit of a misstep, though, when a timely gift of money from afar makes for problems too easily solved. Despite that minor point, I’m sure inspirational fiction fans will enjoy this sequel to Skip Rock Shallows.