Where better to rebuild and face one's fears than in 1906 San Francisco, a city rising from the ashes?
Ruby Marshall, a young widow, is certain she'll discover new purpose assisting her brother Robert with his cancer research, but she doesn't anticipate finding new love.
Dr. Gerald Larkspur dreams of filling his empty home with family, but he'd always hoped it would be a wife and children. In the aftermath of the great earthquake, the rooms are overflowing with extended family and friends left homeless by the disaster. When Robert's widowed sister arrives, the close quarters seem close indeed.
Ruby and Gerald's fledgling romance is put at risk when Gerald develops symptoms of the very disease they're striving to cure. Together they must ask---is it worth a second chance at love when time might be short?
Beyond the Ashes is the second book in Karen Barnett's Golden Gate Chronicles, but it can be read without having first read Out of the Ruins. This novel picks up in the months following the devastating 1906 San Francisco earthquake as the city and its citizens are trying to recover from the tragedy.
Gerald and Ruby are both interesting characters, and I especially enjoyed reading about Gerald's work with cancer patients. One patient in particular, a young woman named Dee, especially caught my attention. Her story was heartbreaking, but I loved the way she handled her illness and looming death. I did struggle to like Ruby in the beginning, but she grew on me as the book progressed, and she ended up being a very sympathetic character.
The romance in this book, though sweet, does suffer from what I like to call "just talk about it already!" syndrome—where if the hero and heroine would simply have a conversation about their problems, they could easily be resolved. But this is one of those books that I enjoyed for things other than the romance, and Barnett's description of medicine at the time is particularly strong. I also liked Gerald's story line, and I'll be very interested to see what happens to him in the future.
While Beyond the Ashes didn't grab me in the same way as Out of the Ruins did, it still is a good story that looks back on a fascinating time in our nation's history. I'll certainly be looking for the third book in the series next year. 3-1/2 stars.
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