Sweeping from London to the ranchos of Spanish California, gold rush San Francisco, and antebellum Louisiana, Laurie McBain's Tears of Gold plunges headlong on a vivid, heart-pounding story of love, adventure, deceit and mystery.
Mara will never end up like her mother, the cast-off mistress of a rich man. Mara spurns men first—until a young London suitor shoots himself after her rejection. The young man's uncle, Nicholas, vows revenge on the villain who hurt his nephew.
Not knowing the young man's fate, Mara, along with her con-artist brother and his son, leave London for the gold fields of California. Mara masquerades as a California ranchero's long lost niece as she reluctantly becomes part of her brother's latest scheme. Here Nicholas first encounters her, unaware she is the woman who rejected his nephew. Thus begins Nicholas's fascination with the beautiful and enigmatic Mara. When he discovers her identity, he smothers his growing admiration for her with contempt. The attraction is mutual, and Mara also fails to keep her distance, even as she knows she should.
Tears of Gold is big story in every sense of the word--historic events, life-and-death consequences, and dramatic settings. Today the book would be a series, with each of the three major locations, all full of historic and descriptive detail, a separate connected novel. The story itself is a wider-ranging, mid-nineteenth century version of Pride and Prejudice, although I found the leads less appealing. Ignoring the introduction of new information, Nicholas continually mistreats Mara, his prejudice blaming her for something that was not her fault. Mara is strong and independent, but her too-strong pride prevents her from explaining her side, and she makes excuse after excuse for Nicholas's continued ill-usage.
Despite the hero's and heroine's shortcomings, I enjoyed this big, sprawling, complex novel. If you also long for stories like this that no one writes any more, Tears of Gold, published in 1979, is the book for you.
Thank you all,
ARC provided by Sourcebooks