Joy Thoreson, daughter of Jan and Rose Thoreson, meets and falls in love with Grant Michaels. They marry, and she leaves River Bend, Nebraska, to settle with her husband in Omaha. They operate a hardware store, and all goes well, until Grant sails to England on a buyer’s trip and his ship is lost at sea.
Joy continues to work the store herself. She’s soon approached by a rather unsavory type of man (borderline thug) whose boss wants to become Joy’s business partner. After she repeatedly refuses, her store is destroyed in a fire, and she’s arrested and tried for arson. But the truth comes out, the guilty flee (or are killed), and Joy is exonerated. But her life in Omaha is over; she returns to her parents in River Bend to try to recover.
Her cousins in Colorado invite her to join them in a ministry aimed at helping women caught up in prostitution. They live in a mountain town two hours by rail from Denver, and it is a place with “houses” catering to some of the wealthiest men in the state. Joy accepts the invitation, and finds gets caught up in a human trafficking issue right on the train to Denver. Wisely, as it turns out, she uses her maiden name – the mastermind behind the prostitution and human trafficking is the same man who ordered her store burned in Omaha.
Joy on This Mountain by Vikki Kestell is the story of Joy Thoreson and the third novel in her Prairie Heritage series (there are five more). It’s filled with the strong research of boom-and-bust Colorado, Pinkerton detectives, corrupt police and politicians, and young women caught up in degrading criminal activities.
Before beginning her writing career, Kestell worked in government, academia, and corporate arenas, holding a Ph.D. degree in Organizational Learning and Instruction. She has also written four books in the “Nanostealth” series, three in “Girls from the Mountain” series, and several in the “Laynie Portland Spy” series, as well as a Bible study entitled “Growing Up in God.”
Joy on This Mountain, like its two predecessors The Rose Blooms Twice and Wild Heart on the Prairie, is an engrossing, page-turning, and hard-to-put-down read.