Shannon Adair is devastated by her father’s decision to leave their home in Virginia and head for Grand Coeur, Idaho. Not only is she leaving behind a comfortable life in Southern society, she is moving to a gold rush town full of Yankees in the midst of the Civil War. She understands her father’s obligation as a pastor to serve where God calls him, but why does it have to be somewhere so unrefined, and so far from everything she knows and loves?
"Author Robin Lee Hatcher takes the reader back to a time when our country was divided by war and united by greed.... HEART OF GOLD is a pleasant read, though somewhat predictable, that will be enjoyed by fans of historical romance."
Matthew Dubois prides himself on being one of the best and fastest Wells Fargo stagecoach drivers. He’s going to miss it during his brief hiatus as he cares for his ailing, widowed sister and young nephew. But helping her is the least he can do, especially since more than a decade has passed since they’ve been in touch. For his sister, and the nephew he’s never met, he can handle working a few weeks in the Wells Fargo office, knowing he’ll be on the trail again as soon as she recovers. What he does not know is that his sister is dying, his nephew will soon need a guardian, and his future is about to be touched by a woman with a heart of gold.
Grand Coeur is even worse than Shannon imagined --- rugged, barren, full of saloons and brothels. She misses her volunteer work as a nurse for wounded soldiers as much as she misses her friends and lifestyle. But when Matthew’s critically ill sister, Alice, comes to town, Shannon finds a new purpose for her life. She offers to serve as the woman’s nurse, never expecting that friendship will ensue. Alice is, after all, a northerner, and her husband was a soldier. The fact that he was killed in the war doesn’t mean they can be friends. And that brother of hers, Matthew, doesn’t even care about the war. In Shannon’s eyes, that makes him a fool. Handsome and interesting, but still a fool.
Matthew is devastated when Alice’s doctor says she is dying, a fact that Alice already knew. As she and her son get to know and like Shannon, Alice realizes that Shannon would be a good wife for Matthew and mother for Todd. A marriage between them would also allow Matthew to resume his stagecoach work with Wells Fargo. Alice shares her idea with Matthew, who doubts Shannon would ever see him as marriage material, but is intrigued by the suggestion. Marrying Shannon would be a practical solution to his situation, but in truth, “practical” has nothing to do with his true feelings for her. For the first time in his life, he is falling in love.
Becoming friends with Alice surprises Shannon, as does the softening of her heart. She begins to consider the possibility that the South’s philosophy regarding slavery might not be in keeping with her Christian faith. Likewise, her judgment of Matthew could also be wrong, as he appears to be a loving brother and uncle, a respectable man, and a Christ follower. And it doesn’t hurt that the way he looks at her melts her heart and muddles her mind.
Shannon is taken aback when, after a brief courtship, Matthew proposes. She agrees to marry him and begins wedding preparations. Meanwhile, the dashing, Southern livery stable owner is not happy that Shannon has chosen Matthew over him. But hovering under the surface of his good looks and southern charm is something menacing that Shannon can’t quite define. Still, he is the one she runs to when she hears that Matthew only wants to marry her because he needs a wife to care for his nephew. She ends the engagement, which breaks both their hearts. It will take the God who loves them both to shed light on the truth and protect them from the danger lurking in their midst.
Author Robin Lee Hatcher takes the reader back to a time when our country was divided by war and united by greed. In the midst of battles and dreams of gold, her two main characters find unexpected love and hope for the future. HEART OF GOLD is a pleasant read, though somewhat predictable, that will be enjoyed by fans of historical romance.
Reviewed by Susan Miura on April 22, 2012