Thursday, June 22, 2017

Review: Laurie McBain’s TEARS OF GOLD –Love in Old California Ranchos, San Francisco and New Orleans

Set in 1848 (prologue) and the early 1850s, this is the story of Mara O’Flynn and her brother Brendan, who live with the stigma of being bastards of an Irish nobleman father who left them to survive on their own. Both Mara and Brendan, like their mother before them, are actors. Mara’s mother died in poverty after her wealthy lover cast her aside, and Mara will never forget it. She has no desire to follow in her mother’s footsteps.

In her private revenge, Mara intentionally makes noblemen fall in love with her only to send them away brokenhearted. In one such encounter the young man shot himself. Unbeknownst to Mara, she made an enemy of the young man’s uncle, a Creole Frenchman from New Orleans, Nicholas Chantale—who vows revenge.

In pursuit of a new future, Mara and Brendan set sail for California on a clipper ship. Ever the Irish optimist, Brendan hopes to find gold. While on the ship, however, Brendan gambles away what little money they have, and they are forced to agree to the plan of another passenger, Don Luis, a Spanish Californian. Don Luis wants Mara to act the part of his half English niece who, from her youth, has been the fiancé of another ranchero in the Sierra Nevada. Mara and Brendan become involved in the lives of the rancheros even as they long to leave for San Francisco. Then one day a stranger shows up--Nicholas Chantale.

The beginning takes a bit of patience as McBain meticulously brings to life old California when gold was discovered and the Californian ranchos were beginning to disappear. As is typical of her novels, she includes much historic detail adding richness to the story. It’s a tale of people fleeing their past hoping for a better tomorrow. Tara flees poverty and shame and Nicholas flees his aristocratic family that cast him out when they thought he murdered his brother.

The story moves from London to California to New Orleans as Tara and Nick are continually thrown together and Tara resists the love she feels for the man who only wants her to share his bed. Once the story picks up in San Francisco, it moves along at a fast pace and will definitely keep you turning pages with some great action scenes, mystery and intrigue and a heartwarming ending. I recommend it.

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