Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Heart of Gold by Laurel Natale

TITLE: Heart of Gold
AUTHOR: Laurel Natale
PUBLISHER: Wild Rose Press
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 88k)
GENRE: Historical romance
COST: $7.00

Matt Sutherland has one goal – to earn enough money mining gold to return East and marry the woman he loves. When he arrives in Arizona, he happens across an auction for a claim, or rather half a claim. The other half belongs to the seller’s sister, who refuses to sell. Matt decides to take a chance and ends up purchasing the claim, partnering up with Deidre Connelly. She teaches him what she knows, and they develop an easy alliance. Over time, they even develop more…

While I love finding memorable characters I actually like, if I can’t get past technical issues like headhopping, it doesn’t make a difference what kind of story they might have.

Set in old west Arizona, this is the story of two opposites who come together. Matt Sutherland is from Pennsylvania, with dreams of marrying the rich young lady he’s in love with. Deidre Connelly is an illiterate young woman with dreams of making enough money panning gold to be independent someday. Matt purchases her drunken brother’s claim, and the two become uneasy allies. Dee teaches Matt what he needs to know, and he teaches her how to read and write. He treats her with respect, something she’s not used to, and while she’s attracted to him from the start, he takes longer to accept his attraction. She’s not a lady, after all, and he’s in love with someone else. But their proximity and circumstance conspire against them.

The two leads are actually quite enjoyable. Dee is spunky and determined to fight for herself, mostly because she’s had to do it for so long, while Matt has an honorable streak a mile wide. Combined with his strong work ethic, he makes an appealing hero for a while in the beginning, at least until he starts treating Dee as less than she is just because she doesn’t match his definition of refinement. It doesn’t last, thank goodness, but it was there long enough to annoy me. I imagine I probably would be more forgiving toward him if I didn’t like Dee as much as I did.

However, liking the characters is different than liking the story, and the fact of the matter is, this is riddled with headhopping. Sometimes it’ll last in a single POV for a few pages, but there are too many sections where it will jump back and forth after only a few paragraphs. It destroys any sense of anticipation of what the other character might be feeling in tenser situations and gave me such a feeling of whiplash that I put this down constantly because I just couldn’t take it. By all rights, I probably should have stopped reading because it bothered me so much, but I liked these two. I wanted to see their happy ending. It took me way too long to get to that point, however, and wanting to see it and actually feeling it in my gut like I would a really great romance aren’t the same thing. Because I didn’t feel the HEA at all. All I got from it was a sense of closure and a certainty that this author’s style is just not for me.


5/10 – The headhopping gave me whiplash and made it all too easy to put down


6/10 – I liked his hardworking ideal, but his attitude toward Dee for the first third really annoyed me


7/10 – I really liked her spunky, determined attitude

Entertainment value

4/10 – Not even characters I could warm up to could save my irritation with the headhopping

World building

8/10 – I don’t know if it’s all historically accurate, but it did feel authentic



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