The Klondike Gold Rush just seems an addictive historical setting for me and I pay attention to little else about the story when I grab up books involving it. Fortunately, this one also offers a go-to author, a delicate romance, an exciting adventure and a bit of steampunk dynamics to make it a rousing read.
The story opens when scientist and inventor, John Fauth, arrives in Seattle as the jumping off point for his mystery-laden journey into the Yukon after something more than gold. He meets prostitute, Robert Belton, who wishes to journey into gold country more than anything. Robert can never go home again after what he has done to survive and save a bit of money for the gamble of a lifetime.
John and Robert spend a night getting intimately acquainted before John agrees to take Robert on as a helper and traveling companion to help steer the mech that will carry their goods up the pass and helping him with the hardships of the journey and doing the digging in gold country. John tells Robert that what they had together must stay secret and then he pulls away and doesn’t touch Robert like that again. They become friends through their time together and the long hard miles they journey.
The journey and natural danger are just part of what keeps them alert. Others are on their trail seeking to steal what John has invented to help him find the noble metal he needs for his invention in progress. Robert’s past is also something that gives them reason to worry as some recognize him for what he was. In the end, both must decide what is truly important and what they can live without.
I’ve always enjoyed the ‘journey to discovery’ style romance and character-driven plot lines that include a physical journey as well as a journey of the heart. The adventure, the steampunk gadgetry and historical backdrop of this story are written well so that the reader gets a true taste of the hardships and what barriers the characters must pit themselves against to gain their goals. It was balanced well with the character development and romance. This story had a unique way of these guys sharing their thoughts. Robert narrated first person and John’s narration came in the form of journal entries.
Robert made some big mistakes and he paid for them and now he’s just hoping that his gamble will give him a new start in life. He also has come to know John and tries to put off thinking of the inevitable separation when they finish what they set out to do. John will return to Chicago and his academic scientific world that has no room for Robert to be more than a secret. Robert isn’t the only one who yearns and has no idea how to achieve a contented happiness. John wants to succeed with his inventions to prove himself, but now he is starting to care about Robert too.
The romance is sweeter more than hot passion. It develops slowly as these two men become traveling companions and share both the tedious, grueling travel and the danger together. It forges something strong between them. Robert worries that John only brought him along to use him, but then he worries that John will never see him as more than a traveling companion. The slow to build romance takes up the whole book and it really worked best that way. I loved it and it was all the more triumphant and deeper when they finally did come together.
In the end, I was captivated and wanted more. I was smiling from ear to ear when I read the epilogue which was a nice touch. Lovers of m/m historical romance adventure should try this one.
My thanks to Riptide Publishing for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.