As a child, Penelope dreamed of becoming a librarian and, being a precocious only child, her widowed father talked to her about his business and encouraged her to be whatever she wanted. Now at twenty-six, the only encouragement she gets is to stop wasting her time on her job as Post Mistress and her little library hobby and settle into being a “proper” woman by marrying the sheriff and having babies. Respectful and brought up to be a “lady,” Penelope accepts her lot in life and tries to enjoy her last days of freedom, while attempting to find something to like about the man to whom she has been promised.
However, as dutiful as Penelope is, she cannot suppress her innate curiosity or generous heart. So, when Penelope sees Sheriff Wiley’s hatred towards Mell “Mirage” Currier and hears his desire for a showdown (no matter what violence may befall the town), Penelope tries to broker peace, but is confronted and confused by Wiley’s antagonism towards Currier and her crew. Needing to learn more about what happened during the shootout that ended with a mayor dead and Currier’s little sister headed for the gallows and not getting any straight answers from Wiley, Penelope searches for information on her own and not only stumbles across a disturbing truth, but into the arms of a kidnapper as well.
While Penelope had longed for adventure, finding herself captive to a group of women she has been told are bloodthirsty killers and whores is more adventure than Penelope bargained for. Desperate for the truth and a way to save her town from needless bloodshed, Penelope keeps quiet about her engagement to Wiley in hopes of finding more answers on the Persephone Star. As she spends time with the women, she learns that the group’s main claim to outlaw fame is wanting to live a life free from abuse and the strictures dictated by society…and that she might be a bit of an outlaw herself.
The Persephone Star is a straightforward, feel-good romance set in the Wild West with a dash of steampunk thrown in by way of airship. Told from Penelope’s POV, the story follows our plucky heroine as she is spirited away by outlaw/pirate Mell and finds herself intrigued and attracted by the rogue’s charming grin, good heart, and family of rescued women. The majority of the story finds Penelope amongst her “captors,” learning the truth of what actually happened during the shootout and trying to find a way to save innocent lives, while also finding the simple acceptance she has always craved. Although feeling stifled by having her choices narrowed down to marriage and babies for no other reason than being a woman, Penelope nevertheless quietly accepted her fate until meeting the crew of the Star and finding a family that understood her, and more importantly saw her—a family that she never believed existed.
Being set in an 1800s-like environment means that almost of the men in the story are patriarchal arseholes of one shade or another, while all the women aboard the Star are a varied lot that Penelope still manages to fit in with relatively easily. Additionally, the ending serves up justice and ties all loose ends with no muss and no fuss, so if you’re looking for high drama or angst, this may not be the book for you. However, The Persephone Star is a fun, relatively short novel that has a charming, honest, and interesting MC in Penelope, a well-paced narrative with a little action, a very sweet, blushing romance, and a lively, lovable cast of secondary characters in the women aboard the Star. So if you’re interested in a motley airship crew, found family, and a gun-toting rule-breaker that’ll do whatever it takes to rescue her sister and the peaceable lady she accidentally kidnaps, then you might enjoy this book.