Forgiven by Janet Fox (Published by Penguin Books, June 2, 2011)
Kula Baker was raised near Yellowstone by her father, an outlaw. She never knew her mother, who was forced to return home when Kula was a baby and later died. Now that Kula is older, her father does not think it is safe for her to live with him, and he wants her to have a better life. So he arranges for Kula to move to the city of Bozeman, Montana, to work as a servant to a kind woman named Mrs. Gale. But Kula wants more than that. She wants to find a rich man to marry, one who will treat her well and raise her social status. Just when Kula is starting to adjust to life in the city, her father comes to find her. He has been falsely accused of murder, and Kula watches as he is arrested. His last words to her are to go to San Francisco and find a box, the contents of which could save him.
Kula sets out for San Francisco, desperate to save her father's life. As she searches for the box, she meets many people, including two young men to whom Kula is attracted, and she is not sure who she can trust. One of those young men, Will Henderson, is rich and handsome and is everything Kula has always wanted in a husband. There is also David Wong, who is exactly the opposite. He is Chinese, an outsider, and he is not rich. But Kula can't seem to forget him. Kula also faces danger as she encounters many villains in San Francisco, some of whom are after the same box she is, and others who would exploit the helpless for their own gain, while discovering that what she always thought she wanted might not actually be what her heart truly wants.
From the start, Forgiven drew me in. I felt sympathy for Kula, who lived a hard life and dreamed of something more. As she journeys to San Francisco, the book is full of romance, adventure, and a very complicated mystery. There is quite a bit of history which is both interesting and sad, as Kula learns of child slavery and experiences the San Francisco Earthquake in April 1906. Although this book is a companion novel to Janet Fox's previous novel, Faithful, the story in this book stands alone and it is not neccesary to have read the first book to enjoy Forgiven, although I would recommend it, as I really enjoyed Faithful too! I highly recommend this book to readers who love young adult historical fiction.
Disclosure: review copy provided by publisher.