The River Rose by Gilbert Morris takes readers back to the riverboat days of the mid-1800s, where sternwheelers made regular runs on the Mississippi and Arkansas rivers. Jeanne Bettencourt, an impoverished single mother, works as a maid in a fine Memphis hotel. Her six-year-old daughter, Marvel, is the joy of her simple life.
Jeanne grew up aboard a steamboat on the river, where her father served as pilot. He taught her how to pilot also. When she inherits half-interest in a riverboat, she attempts to become the first woman boat pilot and partners with co-heir Clint Hardin to run freight on their Helena Rose.
Clint, as hard as his name implies, has been a boxer and a womanizer. Jeanne feels uneasy about their relationship, but agrees they could make a good business team. Clint, along with the rest of their scanty crew, adores Marvel and watches over her.
A wealthy plantation owner Jeanne knew from the hotel courts her, but she's not certain whether he is the man for her. Troubles still try to swamp Jeanne--including prejudice, life-threatening illness, and an evil man from her past returning with threats and attempts to rob, rape, and murder. Then she must testify at the trial.
Will the new life she's formed be torn away? Will the new love she's discovered be able to survive? Perhaps returning to the faith she once cherished will sustain her through life's difficulties.
Gilbert Morris has written dozens of historical novels. This is the second of his Water Wheel series, but the story stands alone. He says, "As in all my books, I want my readers to see how vital it is to serve God no matter how difficult that might be."