Maureen O'Reill, raped by her employer nobleman, was determined to rescue her beloved young sister, Katie Rose, from the same fate when their mother died. Her aunt said both girls needed to flee immediately for a ship bound for America, using money an American man had sent her father as well as a letter stating his wish to help the family since her father had saved his life. Her mother had been too foolish to go, and now that both parents were dead, it was up to Maureen to take the money and her sister and flee. A young man, Joshua Keeton, was asked to take them to the ship. Maureen was so scared of men that she tried not to let Joshua do more than that. However, he too left Ireland and it was with his help and the help of Mrs. Melkford, a lady from the American Missionary Aid Society that she cleared immigration at Ellis Island, leaving Katie Rose behind to recover from chicken pox. Since getting a job and a place to live were critical to Katie Rose's release from Ellis Island when she'd recovered, Maureen went to Olivia Wakefield's house with the letter stating Mr. Morrow's desire for the O'Reilly family to come to America and so get help from him. What happened when Maureen showed up at the Wakefield house leaving Maureen crushed but determined? Survival was now at stake. How did she get references for herself at Darcy's Department Store? Another girl helped her find a place to live and cheap second-hand clothes. But it was not smooth sailing. Katie Rose hated her pox scars and wanted to look better dressed and live in a better place than Maureen had found despite the lack of money. But worse was ahead as people disappeared from work and Maureen was hired to help Joshua find them. Where were the missing women? Why were they missing? Would they be able to capture the guilty ones and free the missing workers in time? Would Olivia forgive Curtis for using her to capture her husband? Would Maureen survive? Would Katie Rose ever love Maureen?
In Band of Sisters, Maureen and Katie Rose arrive at Ellis Island from a long journey from Ireland. They have arrived in America to make a better life for themselves, however, things do not go as planned. Before they enter America, teenager Katie Rose gets the chicken pox and is not allowed to leave the hospital. Maureen is not allowed to stay and is forced to leave Katie Rose behind until she is declared healthy enough to enter America. Furthermore, Maureen needs to show proof that she is able to properly care for Katie Rose by showing proof that she has a decent job and housing or Katie Rose will be sent back to Ireland. Maureen, who is believed to be sponsored by a wealthy family, goes to the Wakefields only to be turned away by the deceased sponsor's son-in-law. In desperation, she takes a job at Darcy's Department Store and housing above a bar. Though Maureen is thankful for her job, she soon realizes that something menacing is going on at Darcy's: women are disappearing shortly after receiving promotions. When one of her friends disappears, Maureen asks too many questions and pretty soon, things turn ugly at her workplace. Meanwhile, Katie Rose is released and the two sisters struggle to make ends meet as well as get along together. As more woman are disappearing, Maureen becomes mixed up in a dangerous plot headed by her employer's business partner and a friend from Maureen's past. As the heat is turned on, a large rift occurs between Katie Rose and Maureen causing Katie Rose to sever ties with her sister over a love triangle. As Maureen is thrust into more danger than was expected, she will discover the power of love and of God.
I couldn't put this book down! It opened my eyes to the extreme difficulties female immigrants faced from the moment they arrived at Ellis Island. I cannot imagine the terror of being separated from my family and having no one to turn to that I could trust. Yet, through a series of events, Maureen arrives in New York City totally alone and penniless. Gradually she does discover people she can trust, and those she cannot. Gohlke really brought to life her characters and I did not want the book to end as I wanted to keep reading about them.