Lisa T. Bergren
David C Cook, Jun 2009, $14.99
In 1883, their father sends three of his offspring from their Philadelphia home to Colorado Springs; each has a different mission. Dominc St. Clair is to watch over his two sisters while setting up the family publishing business in the growing city. His beautiful sister Moira was sent west to get her away from her myriad of suitors. Finally his other sibling Odessa has come to Colorado to stay at a sanatorium for consumption victims run by Dr. Morton. Neither Moira nor Dominic wants to be there as the former wants to sing professionally and the latter wants to see the world.
Odessa barely has a breath left when she makes it to her destination. There she meets two other patients, elderly Sam O’Toole and rancher Bryce McAllan. Hearing a noise at night, Odessa investigates only to fall down unconscious. When she awakens she learns Sam died, but is convinced someone murdered him. Attracted to Bryce who reciprocates, which shocks her as all men fall for Moira, Odessa learns she and the rancher received cryptic poems from Sam that hint at a treasure. As they fall in love, the people who killed Sam want the messages he left behind and are willing to murder two consumption victims to obtain them.
Aptly titled, this is a superb historical medical thriller that brings to life victims of consumption (Tuberculosis) as they struggle to BREATHE. The cast is solid inside the sanatorium and in Colorado Springs. Although Sam’s death and the subsequent attempts to steal his messages add suspense, Lisa T. Bergren’s tale is at its best when readers are inside the sanatorium observing late nineteenth century medical practices dealing with a deadly crippling disease.