The Way of Love (Willamette Brides)
Faith Kenner, 30, is a rare female medical student in Oregon in 1879, but one with a secret. She is the child of a mother raped during an Indian raid, and is “passing” as white. Oregon’s laws include a “whites only” clause, so she risks getting expelled. Faith tends to riverboat captain Andrew Gratton’s injuries after a scuffle, and they find a tug of attraction between them. When Faith gives a lecture to raise money to buy medicine for the Indians, influential men on the medical school board get her expelled just before graduation. Matters are further complicated when the same men tangle Andrew and his riverboat in a gun-running plot.
Racial issues figure into the story in multiple ways, as Faith struggles over whether “passing” is morally justified, and a lady at her boarding house is hiding her Black companion due to the “whites only” law. Faith’s background makes her an especially interesting character. The religious content is on the heavy side in volume 2 of the Willamette Brides series. Recommended with one reservation: the ending has an element of deus ex machina that wraps up the novel too patly.