Rating 4 out of 5
"She could have sought a new husband, of course, but that would have been accepting the same tedious fate again — living out her days as someone's decoration."
Emma married Joseph not for love, but for an established family name and a place in Chicago society. Joseph had a gambling problem and soon the family money ran out; he decided to move them west to Idaho Territory. It wasn't long before he was murdered under mysterious circumstances, leaving her to fend for herself in the rough mining town. Joseph left her with nothing but their house, which given her lack of options, Emma turned into a brothel and saloon. She has run the brothel as a madam for a few months now. Emma's life takes a dramatic turn when a stranger shows up in town. The bandits are demanding she pay her husband's debts and her brother-in-law is boasting about knowing where her husband hid a fortune in gold. Emma quickly finds herself in a race with the bandits to recover the gold and the handsome stranger may just be the key to her claiming her inheritance.
To be 88 pages this book was action packed from the start. I instantly fell in love with Emma because she was a no nonsense type of woman. Emma is an amazingly well written character for 88 pages and I fully believe she could have carried the story on her own without a love interest. I mean she held no delusions about her life or her marriage. She also had no issues acknowledging that her husband was basically terrible. I admired her spirit. She for sure seemed like a woman who was at home in the lawlessness of the Old West.
The novella wastes no time jumping into the story and gives you everything you need to understand what is happening. You get a brief backstory and it's doled out to fit into the narrative at present. The summary of the book does a pretty good job of letting you know you are about to read a fast paced story. The Golden Madam is extremely fast paced with things happening at an accelerated rate, which is needed to fit into the length of the story.
It is so well written that even though some elements were soon pretty predictable, a lot of big things came as a shock. I was taken by surprise twice with this book. It really was a breeze to read and I wish that it had been a full length novel so that I could enjoy it even more. I think the story worked really well because of how fast paced everything was though. If you like the Old West or just want a quick enthralling read check out this book.