Friday, August 7, 2015
New Review: Elaine Dodge’s HARCOURT’S MOUNTAIN – Ship’s Bride Romance set in British Columbia after the Civil War
The story is set in 1867 in British Columbia, two years after the Civil War, when American Luke Harcourt, fleeing the memory of his wife’s death, goes west to grow apples and find peace. One day, while in town buying supplies, he is forced to wait while a ship unloads. It turns out this ship is carrying “brides” for purchase, most of them whores. But when Luke notices that somehow a lady has ended up among them, he comes to her rescue.
Hope Booker has no memory of how she got on the ship, but she knows her name from the ship registry. Her soiled gown was once lovely and, thinking to save her from the local bordello, Luke “buys” her. Being a gentleman, he assures her he won’t touch her.
Hope knows nothing about farming, but dives in to help Luke on his isolated mountain, never learning how to make decent coffee despite she learns to shoot, keep house, feed and care for the animals and makes a pet of a wolf.
It’s a rich community of characters, those out for their own enrichment since gold is in “them thar hills”, the Chinese who run the local laundry, the very sophisticated black man who runs the stable and the Indians who share the mountain with Luke.
Dodge is a great storyteller and brings us a fascinating look at 19th century British Columbia. She does well with the interaction with the married-but-not-really-married couple as they find their way together. There are some great characters. The animals added a lot and I loved the wolf as a pet. Life on Luke’s mountain is never dull. And the bad guy is really, really bad. The ship scenes—when Luke, a former US Navy officer, ends up on a former slave ship with a cruel captain.—are done well.
Dodge kept me turning pages and were it not for some issues involving continual “head hopping,” improbable elements and some editing problems, I would have rated it higher. Still, for the story, it makes my "best exotic locales" list.
Buy on Amazon