Author: Barri Bryan
Genre: Historical Romance
Published in July 2004 by New Concepts Publishing
Coral Annette Morgan had the indignity of starting her life out in a New Orleans whorehouse in 1838. To make matters worse, her mother hemorrhaged to death minutes after she was born. The physician that had assisted her into the world made a pact with the madam of the house to list both mother and baby as deceased in his official report. This gave Minnie Morgan the opportunity to claim Coral as her own. As Minnie’s daughter, she received the best of everything and was shielded from the wickedness of business in a whorehouse. While her beginnings could have been a major set back for her, the love of Minnie saved her from a life of prostitution. She was sent to a boarding school in South Caroline to be trained as a Lady.
When Minnie’s money ran out and the expenses of the boarding school became too much for her to afford, Coral returned to New Orleans. Nineteen-year-old Coral soon came to realize that her normal quiet life was over and she would have to learn to rely on herself to survive. Shortly after her return to New Orleans, Coral attracts the attention of the police commissioner, Sidney Layton. The commissioner already owns half the whorehouses in New Orleans, but he is determined that he is going to take over Minnie’s as well. Sidney is so sure that he will get control of the house, that he starts looking over the girls and places his mark on the ones that he plans on keeping. Unfortunately, Coral is his top pick. Taken prisoner by Sidney, Coral endures an examination to prove her virginity. After a blue butterfly is tattooed on her butt and she has been paraded in front of potential buyers, Coral is dragged downstairs in a revealing wrapper with her honey blond hair cascading in waves down her back. Coral witnessed an act so horrendous that her life will never be the same. She manages to escape and flees terrified into the dark night. With nowhere to go and no one to trust, Coral finds herself in the situation of having to impersonate Lilly Malone, a handmaiden of the Church of True Believers that was on her way to Canaan, Texas.
Lucas McDade is an accomplished wagon master. When he takes on a task, and no matter the obstacles that he encounters, he completes the job. The Church of True Believers hired him to take the handmaidens to the Texans that purchased them. He has made this trip many times and although he might not agree with the selling of handmaidens, he does not interfere in the lives of his fellow passengers. As a skilled woodsman, Lucas has a muscular and honed body that enables him to lead the train safely to Texas.
Lucas has been the wagon master for years on the trip to Canaan, Texas. He has seen many handmaidens delivered to families in Texas and has never met one like Lilly Malone before. When he comes to the church to pick up the last members of his wagon train, his instincts are screaming that all was not as it appears. While remaining vigilant, Lucas starts the wagons moving on their journey. Lilly intrigues him and he finds himself drawn to her although another man has purchased her.
Billie and Herb Houston have written as Barri Bryan since 1990. Their latest book, Canaan, is a look at how your life can go from idealistic to out of control in the blink of an eye. Coral must learn to rely on herself and is forced to realize that life in the real world is not like life in the boarding school. She will have to be able to recognize the wolves wearing sheep’s clothing and overcome her fears before she can truly be free. Although she makes a friend on the wagon train and attempts to fit in, she finds that she cannot be Coral and she does not know how to be Lilly. Lucas stands back, watches the interaction between the church members and Lilly, and has to rely on his intuition to lead him down the correct path.
Billie and Herb Houston as Barri Bryan pack in the excitement in Canaan. Coral finds herself in the smack dab middle of one new adventure after another. From witnessing cold-blooded murder, to discovering a decomposing body, to defending herself against attack, Coral shows the strength that the women of the 1800s needed in order to survive. Lucas is the type of man that watches what is going on and takes everything in before making a judgment. He has been around long enough to realize that he has to look more than skin deep to find the answers. Pick up a copy of Canaan today from New Concepts Publishing for an exhilarating story that will intrigue you until the very last page is turned.