The California Gold Rush Romance Collection, 9 Novellas by 9 Authors (review)

cagoldrushcollection_barbourThe Price of Love by Amanda Barratt

The Best Man in Brookside by Angela Bell

Civilizing Clementine by Dianne Christner

The Marriage Broker & the Mortician by Anne Greene

The Lye Water Bride by Linda Farmer Harris

A Sketch of Gold by Cynthia Hickey

Love is a Puzzle by Pam Hillman

The Golden Cross by Jennifer Rogers Spinola

Gold Haven Heiress by Jaime Jo Wright

From the Cover:

Rush to California after the 1848 gold discovery alongside thousands of hopeful men and women. Meet news reporters, English gentry, miners, morticians, marriage brokers, bankers, fugitives, preachers, imposters, trail guides, map makers, cooks, missionaries, town builders, soiled doves, and more people who take advantage of the opportunities to make their fortunes in places where the population swelled overnight. But can faith and romance transform lives where gold is king?

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

It is no secret that I love these Bride Collections from Barbour.  I pick which ones I want to read based on the theme and, usually, a single author that I already know and enjoy.  In this case, it was solely an author that had me requesting an ebook through NetGalley. Having previously enjoyed Angela Bell’s contribution to The Lassoed By Marriage Romance Collection,  I was excited to see what she would do for the Gold Rush theme and how she would take it to England and add her signature twist with well researched steampunk technology.  Her story, The Best Man in Brookside, was definitely a favorite as Irishman Donovan returns to England with his fortune in gold, determined to care for his sister and exact revenge on Sophia, the Englishwoman who blackened his name in the village of Brookside.  I especially enjoyed how his accent bled into the third person narrative whenever it was focused on his point of view.

As with this story, my two other favorites also took us away from the actual mining. Thalia Simmons is a former soiled dove living in an abandoned mining town (with a mouse she names Ounce) in Jaime Jo Wright’s Gold Haven Heiress, when Jack Taylor, a businessman who became rich supplying goldminers, arrives to rebuild the town.  I do love a good non-preachy redemption story.

In the third of my favorites, Dianne Christner’s Civilizing Clementine, 18 year old Clementine Cahill is not pleased when her father, whose injury brought them away from their claim and into San Francisco, calls on the Last Resort Traveling Etiquette School to refine his rough and tumble daughter after her rejection by a potential suitor.  Her lessons include the bible and prayer, as well as practice outings with “he’s-like-a-brother-to-me” Samuel Whitburn, a reporter who had befriended her and her father in the gold fields.

Amanda Barratt’s The Price of Love gives us a story of two newspaper editors, Lorena and Caleb, unwittingly in competition for the same promotion.  Lorena will get the job if she proves herself in San Francisco, while it has been promised to Caleb if he can get Lorena to fall for him.

The Marriage Broker & The Mortician by Anne Greene features two Irish immigrants.  Eve Molloy is a marriage broker who is robbed in her rented room after receiving payment for delivering brides to Eureka, California.  Rafe Riley is a gold miner and mortician who spotted one woman who interested him in the group of brides, and she is determined not to marry.

Linda Farmer Harris’s The Lye Water Bride, Jo Bass is a banker hoping to prove herself, while Zeke Keller is a fugitive trying to prove his innocence.  This was a very fun story, with a bit of a so-so ending.

Another cute and fun story has Rose McIlroy cutting her hair to look like a boy which does not fool Jackson Westin, the newspaperman/artist/preacher who befriends her and her father on their claim in Cynthia Hickey’s A Sketch of Gold.  

In the one story that actually had me saying “Awwww,” Pam Hillman’s Love is a Puzzle, Nick Johnston is guiding a party of surveyors and helping Shanyn Duvall look for her cartographer father in 1850’s California Territory outside of Sacramento.

Jennifer Rogers Spinola has the least expected setting, with her story The Golden Cross, beginning in China where Wang Ming and her uncle are ostracized for being Christians. With their farm failing, they sail to California to work.  Once they have worked off their passage, they start a new venture that brings about a reunion between Ming and a young man she met aboard the ship.  While this was a very good story, I did find myself skimming through some of it.

Overall, another solid collection from Barbour with a nice variety in characters and settings.  A bit surprising, really, given the California focused theme.  So, if you enjoy historical fiction (especially including reporters, as they seemed to be a bit more in evidence than any other profession) and happily ever afters (there are nine!), then this would be a great choice.  Not feeling the California Gold Rush theme but still wanting multiple HEA’s?  Check out Barbour’s other Bride Collections, there’s sure to be a theme that appeals.

The California Gold Rush Romance Collection: 9 Stories of Finding Treasures Worth More Than Gold, various authors | Barbour Books,  | ebook, 448 pages

This review refers to a review ebook copy I read for free, courtesy of the publisher, through NetGalley.  All opinions expressed are my own.


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