Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Silver by Kristen Lynch

Originally posted at Romance Reviews Magazine
Note:  I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  
My Experience:  A
Synopsis:  In 1867, news of the vast silver veins in the new Idaho Territory exploded and lured men the world over with promises of wealth and power, bringing those who were starry-eyed, silver-drunk, and desperate for more. But when miles of underground chambers were breached between two of the largest working mines, the results became deadly. 
Smart but naive, Miss Adelaide Johnston is in over her head in Silver City. 
Hundreds of feet below the peak of War Eagle Mountain, battle lines have been drawn and fingers from both sides are itching to pull triggers down in the depths of hell, where their war cries were kept hidden from the ears of Silver City. That is, until the town's pretty schoolteacher/news reporter gets wind of more than silver being mined; war is being waged and unless Miss Adelaide can temper the flames with her news-breaking column, Silver City's sheriff may be facing a raging bloodbath. 
Will the handsome Sheriff Forrester be able to stop the madness before all hell broke loose or will they be digging more than rocks out of the Owyhee Mountains? 
Based on the documented events of "The Owyhee War," Silver pulls back the pages of the Old West and reveals a hidden chapter of the mining boom, recounting a period when the frontier lay open for the taking and the mountains offered riches beyond compare – if you were willing to sell your soul.

I admit, I'm jaundiced about Westerns these days.  Too often they're more about re-writing history than they are about telling the story.  Ms. Lynch was all about the tale.  Silver is a delight to savor.  It's more fun when you read it out loud - tryit!

First off ... I LOVE the cover!  It's like a movie poster folks pay big bucks for on e-bay.  I instantly felt Jerry Goldsmith style theme music rumbling through my head and was ready for an adventure.  FINALLY a publisher that has a cover representative of the author's hard work!!  The blurb is a bit scattered, but I was too busy scrolling through the credits to notice.

Adelaide Johnston is a character. Originally from Indiana [as am I] she brings her practicality along with her books, her optimism, a piano and that unconquerable romanticism Hoosiers aren't really known for and would earnestly deny if confronted openly; but it's there, trust me, and Ms. Lynch captures the voice/ tone perfectly!  She leaves behind three spinster aunts and the flatlands, traveling far to find her self and a home where she truly belongs.

Arriving in Silver City to retrieve her father's remains, Miss Addie was surprised to find a "bustling and efficient town not ramshackle cabins and derelict taverns."  Since she had no idea what to do with the mine her father named in her honor, and seeing a need, she offered to become the town's school teacher.  Persuading the Mayor and other important folks to claim an abandon house, she proceeded to put her education to good use for the benefit of others.  A schoolteacher she may be, but she's no trembling miss or prune-faced dragon.  On the side, she is fulfilling her dream of becoming a writer by reporting for the Idaho Garnet, a local paper that is published when the owner, Mr. R.E. Smythe can do so.  She hopes to be a woman of letters, facts and inspiration to her fellow citizens of Silver City.  Of course, she makes mistakes, alarming and unintentional, but her earnest spirit smooths the rough edges of her humble beginnings and eventually folks accept her ways, even if they don't always understand them.

Sheriff Daniel Forrester is a remarkably level headed, easy going man with a firm commitment to law and order; he doesn't generally see the need to make a production of it.  A native of Minnesota, veteran of the Civil War, he served with the Army after the war then followed friends West when the loneliness got to be too much for him. With his boon companion, an over sized mutt named Yankee, and Deputy Jonathon Hastings, one of the brothers he traveled West with, he keeps the peace in Silver City.  If only Addie would realize how perfect they'd be together, his life would be just about perfect.  Alas, Miss Addie doesn't realize this because every time she is near and he looks directly at her, his brain freezes and his tongue gets stupid.  It could demoralize lesser men, but not Sheriff Forrester.  He keeps on trying and does manage to converse and become a good friend as the months go along.

Each chapter opens with an article for the Garnet, a hint of things to come or interpretation of what just transpired.  These articles are wonderful and anyone that has dug through old newspapers from Back in the Day will see the attention to detail in Ms. Lynch's research.  Her phraseology is so well done, you can *see* Miss Addie chewing her pencil and furrowing her brow over every sentence.  The tid-bits of news, opinion and yes, at times, admonishment that is sprinkled in each report is a story all on it's own.  The action in between is delightfully narrated with delicious elements of quirk and fun, balanced by just the right amount of boring old reality and sad truth to vindicate the time you spend reading instead of attending to - well whatever you should be doing instead.

The dialog is in keeping with the tone of the time without murky dialects or regional slang.  You hear it though it isn't making your eyes cross as you read.  Secondary characters are as interesting as Miss Addie and the events unfolding before our eyes familiar enough to be comforting, strange enough to be refreshing.  This is not a hot and heavy romance and it is blessedly far-far removed from chick lit.  It is a courtship of characters, town and reader.  We're wooed by the discovery of more than silver and gold in the mountains, more than rough beauty all around us, more than compatibility of soul between Miss Addie and Sheriff Forrester - it is an awakening of that pioneer spirit we have buried in our ancestral past, somewhere, that rises [somewhat indignantly in my case] and says, "Ha!  You think standing in line at Wal-Mart is a hardship!"

With a lively tune, the plot unfolds, plausibly.  Silver is without apologetic political correctness that re-writes the Western, leaving the facts in the dust with the burden of hindsight robbing us so we can't see the truth, can't truly admit our mistakes or feel the sorrow, won't ever learn there's more to us than we ever thought; especially when we're starting with nothing but dreams.  The minor notes of villainy is a haunting harmony that brings out goosebumps, without one graphic description or word that would offend your sainted grandmother, but the point gets across all the same.  Youth, impatience, anger, greed, lust, envy, and vengeance create a story between and in the Idaho Garnet's Addie's Attributions that is worth sharing with others, knowing you'll re-read the book again and again.

Best part?  No epilogue.  An author that trusts her readers to carry on because the personal answer is sufficient. I eagerly recommend Silver as a savory anytime, anyplace read.  Be careful though, if you read it while commuting or sitting in the dentist's office, you might make friends explaining why you were laughing!

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