Mountain Jewel by Tracey Lyons
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
Length: Full Length (260 pages)
Rating: 2.5 Stars
Reviewed by Aster
A dangerous love, any way you cut it.
After four years at a conventional Boston boarding school, Hannah Jackson is perfectly content to live a quiet existence at her grandparents’ Adirondack homestead. However, her peaceful existence is soon shattered by the arrival of the formidable Chase Malone, a representative of Tyler Mining.
Though the year is 1880, nineteen-year-old Hannah isn’t afraid to speak her mind. Garnet mining would ruin North Creek, the life blood of her sanctuary. Carrying her stubborn resolve with her like a shield of armor, Hannah vows to keep that from happening.
From the moment Chase and Hannah clash, more than simple conflict ignites. He is a man with secrets—a U.S. Customs agent on an undercover mission to prove Tyler is passing cheap garnets off as priceless rubies.
In the raven-haired beauty he finds a fearlessness to match his own—and an intelligence behind those sapphire eyes that sees too much. Soon they are both entering the world of gem smuggling—and encountering danger from which their love may not save them.
This book has been previously published.
The old west, beautiful picturesque countryside, threats of danger and a young couple falling in love. This story has all the elements of a wonderful escape and when I read the summary, I was excited to dive in!
I give all the credit in the world to an author willing to tackle a time and place that none of us have ever experienced. It has to be a challenge to pull a reader into a foreign environment, but Ms. Lyons does a nice job setting the time and place. She has a good grasp of terminology and the consistent reminders of things like transportation or clothing as the story progresses to help keep the reader in the correct setting. Her descriptions of the sights, sounds, and even smells were very descriptive and helped to paint a nice a picture.
Her main characters are flawed, but for the most part, likable. The heroine, Hannah, is a precocious young woman who repeatedly makes the wrong decision, although perhaps for the right reason. The hero, Chase, is a admirable guy who finds himself in a difficult position; for the first time in his life he has a woman he cares for, but has to lie to her to keep her safe.
The relationship is initially antagonistic, which was fun to read. They are on opposite sides of the mining trade, which forces Hannah to defend the beautiful Adirondack Mountains from certain destruction from the group Chase is heading. In an attempt to quiet Hannah from her fierce opposition to the mine, Chase befriends and begins a relationship with her, and the two quickly fall in love.
I didn't dislike the story, but what I found consistently throughout was what I'll describe as "missed beats." The attraction between the main characters was believable, but they went from a first kiss to consummation in a very short amount of time, without establishing what their relationship even was, much less a declaration of love. Considering the norms of the time, I didn't find their coupling very believable, particularly since there was little discussion nor even acknowledgement of it in the days and weeks that followed.
There was quite a bit of repetition in the course of the story. Hannah's eyes are regularly referred to as "sapphire eyes" to the point it was obvious, and another description would have eventually been preferred. Some conversations were remarkably similar as well; on several occasions Chase had to leave town and Hannah's only reaction was, "I'll miss you." It felt to be the same scene played more than once.
Unfortunately, Ms. Lyon's writing does tend to do a lot of telling instead of showing. I didn't feel the connection to the characters I would have liked, and I attribute at least part of that to the writing style. The sentences were often short and choppy, and didn't flow eloquently the way they could have if blended together. For example, "After several minutes, Chase went downstairs. He walked into the smoky saloon. There were five men standing at the bar. Jeb was pouring a whiskey for a tall man who stood at the end of the bar. Chase's attention was fixed on the man whose back was to him. He was dressed in black from head to toe." While there is nothing technically wrong with the sentences, if rephrased or rearranged, the writing could become a bit more sophisticated and eloquent - and therefore easier to read. The distraction of the choppiness, I think, kept me from completely losing myself in the story.
There were frequent point of view shifts, and while I don't find them distracting the way many do, there were times I wasn't sure when or if we had shifted. It was sometimes jarring to figure out a paragraph later that we were now in the hero's mind instead of the heroine's. The most difficult thing, however, was the occasional combination of dialogue, both characters speaking, within the same paragraph. That was definitely hard to get past once I realized what had happened.
As a whole, the story was good. I enjoyed the time period and the conflict between characters, and while I would have liked to see it explored a bit more in depth, it was an overall pleasant read. If you like to read about historical time and place, particularly the old west, this story could be a nice option.