St. Mary’s Private Dancer by Blair Hull—
Shepherd Murdoch has retired from ministry to grow flowers in her greenhouse with her close friend Rupert and his wife Crystal. Reluctantly Shep agrees to counsel sex-worker Marnie Cooper. Shepherd is pulled into Marnie’s nefarious underworld and helps her turn her life around, or so she thought.
Six years later Derek, who Marnie testified against, has just been released from prison. Out of revenge, he kidnaps Marnie, and holds her hostage. Shepherd finds Marnie's young son Max, but not Marnie. Police sergeant, Patrick Kelly tells Shep there is little interest to no interest in the disappearance of a prostitute. Undaunted, Shep looks for Marnie and a push-pull romantic relationship begins between Shep and Patrick.
On a tip, Shep goes undercover at a dance club that is a front for prostitution, to see if she can find Marnie. Shep convinces the clubs sinister owner, Irma, to give her a job waiting tables. While undercover at the Dream Way Shep meets Father Alphonso and seminarian John Leonardo, who are well meaning but misguided in their quest to save women from prostitution. Shep also meets pole dancers Brenda and Pammy Jo who who knew Marnie and are controlled by Irma.
One of Derek’s accomplices who helped kidnap Marnie, takes pity on her, and she escapes. At the same time, Shep drives Brenda and Pammy Jo home from the Dream Way, which, unbeknownst to anyone, is where Marnie has been kept and is now hiding.
Irma is outraged at Shep for meddling and follows them to the house.
From her hiding place, Marnie sees what is happening and calls 911 from a cell phone her kidnappers accidentally left behind. The police arrest Brenda, Pammy Jo, Irma, and Shepherd. Marnie stays hidden until the police leave then she takes Shep’s car to try to find her son.
The next morning, Patrick bails Shep out of jail, informing her that Marnie is the prime suspect in the murder of Dereck who was found the day before. Shep continues to search for answers, and finds a seriously ill Fr. Alphonso who confesses he paid Marnie, not to have sex with priests, but to talk to those who were uncertain about their sexuality and continuing to be in ministry.
Before he dies Alphonso reveals that John Leonardo, is Max’s father, and tells Shep where they have gone. Shepherd calls Patrick and there is a chase as they search for Marnie, Max and John.
Instead of running away as planned, the three return to Shep’s house to wait for her. Marnie tells Shep about her ordeal. Shep is relieved they are safe but angry that Marnie had not been honest with her.
The morning after a long night of confessions they prepare to go to Alphonso’s funeral and are still afraid Marnie will be arrested for the murder of Derek Johnson. Marnie denies any involvement in his murder. Shep stays home, waiting for Patrick to take her to the funeral, when she is surprised by a deranged Irma who tries to kill her. When Patrick arrives Shep has helped mollify Irma who is then arrested for the murder of Derek Johnson.
At the graveside a healing breeze brings welcome relief from the heat. In that moment Shep is assured of God’s presence as she realizes that she is, once again, changed by love and not destroyed by evil.