The Plainswoman

Written by Irene Bennett Brown
Review by Lisa Ann Verge

Amity Whitford is a governess who recovers from heatstroke (and temporary amnesia) to discover her youngest charge is dead. Her boss runs her out of town, refusing to answer any of her questions about what happened. Adrift, penniless, and alone, this by-gum-I’ll-do-it heroine walks across 1880s Kansas to stake 160 acres of dusty farmland. There, in the seething little town of Syracuse, she defies convention to run for county school superintendent – not just for the $500 salary that she needs to keep her farm, but also to bring education to the poor rural youth. Add some crop failures, poisoned cattle, arson, gunfighting, a recently-orphaned waif, a villainous local beauty who knows the truth about Amity’s past, and a too-good-to-be-true hero, and you’ve got a recipe for a familiar, old-fashioned romance. (Originally published by Ballantine in 1994 –ed.)