Why this one: I've been on such a role with this author
Steam Level: very warm, but not boiling
It’s kind of odd rereading a book years after reading it the first time. Back in the 90’s when I originally read these books, this was my favourite book. But now, so far anyway, this one has been replaced by Desperate Hearts, the Homeward Hearts. That’s not to say that I’m not thoroughly enjoying this one – I am – it’s just not at the top now.
This book takes place somewhere towards the end of the Yukon Gold Rush. Dylan Harper and Melissa Logan meet when Melissa’s good for nothing husband tries to trade her to store owner Dylan to pay off a debt owed to him by her husband. Dylan is naturally horrified as such a suggestion, but it’s pointed out to him by his friend, a witness to the whole thing, that this useless excuse for a human being will only try the same thing again sometime, putting Melissa and her daughter Jenny, at possible greater risk than him.
So Dylan agrees to this ludicrous plan and takes on this drab and colourless young woman. He agrees she can stay and cook and clean for him. As he lives in a tiny apartment above his trading store, this doesn’t take up much time for her, and determined never to be helpless again, Melissa comes up with the idea of taking in washing to make some money so she can leave this sad and desolate locale.
Melissa slowly starts coming back to life as she is being treated with respect for the first time in her young life. And Dylan does respect her. He’s nursing deep pain himself. He’s been rejected by his family all his life and the final cut was when his fiancé marries his brother. He didn’t know where he was headed, he just knew he had to get away and ended up somehow in Dawson City, Yukon. He had realized early that panning for gold was a no-win situation. Most of the claims had been panned out already. So instead he’d become a successful trader.
The author does an excellent job of showing the hopeless and desperateness of the effects of the gold rush. Broken families, lonely people, squalor and loneliness are all well described.
Where it’s not so much the favourite as is was previously is a misunderstanding/big stupid error by Logan causing hurt to Melissa. I wanted to smack him and tell him to grow up! He was too hung up on past hurts which seemed to me anyway, leading to disrespectful treatment to Melissa who I loved to pieces. He came across as kind of selfish and self-centered towards the end and wasn’t redeemed quite enough for me. Melissa gave in a tad to easily.
But, despite these issues, I’m still loving Ms. Harringtons books and just ordered two more today.
Grade: 4 out of 5