Sophie awakens in a Gold Rush California harbor on a deserted plague ship. Recovered from a fever, she immediately sets out to wring whatever money sh...moreSophie awakens in a Gold Rush California harbor on a deserted plague ship. Recovered from a fever, she immediately sets out to wring whatever money she can get from the ship's cargo and find her lost sister. She and sister Annabelle have a sort of psychic connection, but when Sophie finally finds her she discovers that Annabelle has changed and is currently enjoying the life of a whore flush with gold. For Sophie, who has guarded her virginity obsessively, she can't understand why Annabelle wants to stay in her current lifestyle.
But Sophie sets up a business with the aim of becoming rich and powerful and giving it to those who have set her back. The last part of the story deals with a white slave ring and the seedy underbelly of gold rush California.
The back of the book makes Sophie seem like a bigger ballbuster than she really is. Despite her willingness to use a knife in fights (as well as her teeth in tender manly regions, if necessary), there's a part of her that's really uptight, unyielding and jealous. Still, an interesting character.
If you want a romance that is a bland, inoffensive and predictable Ball of Soporific Suck, then do pick this one up.
I really get annoyed at 2 star boo...moreIf you want a romance that is a bland, inoffensive and predictable Ball of Soporific Suck, then do pick this one up.
I really get annoyed at 2 star books. There's nothing to enrage me or make me want to throw it into a bonfire, but my feeling the entire time is one of simmering boredom that never boils. It's not fair to hate them - because they are technically competent - but they are lacking something vital just the same.
That's what this book was. There was nothing new or even interesting in it. I ended up skimming it, hoping that something would happen out of the ordinary, but alas, no.
Plucky heroine who wears pants and wants to do a man's job, in this case write for a newspaper? Check.
Hero in disguise who finds this "new life" life-changing? Check.
Twagic death that motivates heroine's emotions (and which lead to complications with our hero)? Check.
Secondary characters who are uninteresting and take up way too much time? Oh, warp speed check!
Cute kitten? Check.
Cute kitten who makes a comic cameo during a sex scene? Wait for it.....check!
Jealous and catty mistress? Historical figures (here, Mark Twain) capering about with our hero and heroine? A dwamatic climax in a courtroom with the hero on trial? A last minute "Hear me out, Your Honor!" reveal?
Check. Check. Check. And....check.
(However, it was amusing to see each chapter begin with the date, yet such meticulousness failed when the date moved from December to January, and still remained 1864. Quite a feat, that.)
Elizabeth Todd, pregnant bride, is separated from her husband on the ill-fated Donner Party trek and finds herself raped in the snow by Luther Mosby,...moreElizabeth Todd, pregnant bride, is separated from her husband on the ill-fated Donner Party trek and finds herself raped in the snow by Luther Mosby, a tracker and scout. She survives (thanks to a convenient food supply *wink wink*) and emerges with some permanent scars and determined to avenge herself on Mosby, an obsession that lasts for over two decades.
This book started out real promising. It grabbed me early on by opening with Elizabeth (calling herself Esther Cable) in 1869 readying herself for a final reckoning with Mosby. As she prepares herself, she re-reads her journal that goes back twenty years. Interspersed with journal entries are recollections of past events and then leaps to 1869 again as another step is taken in Esther's final plan. Sounds confusing, but it was all laid out quite clearly. Details were dropped about events that had not yet happened, and so the flashbacks then were used to show how things turned out the way they did. For quite a while it kept my interest, but by the end I was tired of getting vague spoilers ahead of the game. I wanted to be surprised, especially since the "how it happened" stuff wasn't always super-exciting, when it wasn't weirdly far-fetched.
I can't fault the author for detail. There are many little things that read like he pulled them from newspaper stories of the time. Unfortunately it sometimes felt like they were put in there just to show his research (a flood tide wiping out a tent theater), or to toss in a famous person who was in San Francisco at the time (William T. Sherman in a very brief and pointless cameo), or to tie the fictional characters to local history (the 1856 vigilante hangings of Charles Cora and James Casey).
I thought the inclusion of Joaquin Murietta would be a great plot arc, but that one eventually fizzled out. The overall story lacked structure, despite having an intricate flashback framework. Esther's life kept going...and going...and her plots to get Mosby kept going...and failing....and going... The endless attempts to kill Mosby got ridiculous after awhile, and even in the beginning her plan made little sense. Since she wants to do the deed herself, she won't have him murdered. So her plan is to become rich in order to interfere with his life (??) as well as anonymously help her husband (who thinks she's dead) become successful. This rural Vermont girl and Ohio schoolteacher, just by recuperating at Sutter's Fort and surrounded by gold, becomes a financial savant. I guess. She makes buttloads of money, goes through extravagant schemes to get Mosby ((view spoiler)[including observing his bordello habits for months and getting him into bed in order to shoot him, but then....the place catches on fire from the ashes of his cigar and...plan thwarted! Again! (hide spoiler)]), and in the end all these far-fetched and wacky schemes (short of sharks with laser beams) turn out to be a total waste of time since (view spoiler)[it's up to Esther's Indian squaw BFF to actually kill the bad guy. Arrgh! (hide spoiler)]
I thought the best characters in the story were Miwokan and Solana, a Miwok native husband and wife. He was interesting because it was his people who knew where a hidden cache of gold was on Sutter's property and he knew his people were doomed once the white man found that yellow stuff, and she was interesting because she was dedicated and fierce and awesome. They had character arcs that really affected me. Too bad the book hadn't been about them. Honorable mention goes to Esther's son Moses, raised by Solana. Not nearly enough time was spent on him.
2.75 stars, rounded up to 3 for the Gold Rush-era stuff I learned. This book really was bloated with a plot that kept circling back on itself, pushed by a heroine who wasn't believable and didn't act believably. It could have lost 100 to 200 pages easily.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)