Tuesday, August 31, 2021

The Gold in These Hills by Joanne Bischof


Two second-chance love stories, hope across the centuries, and the legacy that binds them together.

Upon arriving at Kenworthy, California, mail-order-bride Juniper Cohen was met by the pounding of the gold mine, the rowdiness of its prospectors, and her greatest surprise of all: the love of the kind man who awaited her. But when the mine proves empty of profit, and when Juniper’s husband vanishes, doubt and discouragement are as prevalent as the pioneers fleeing this dwindling boomtown.

As winter blows in, Juniper pens a series of letters to her husband but fears she is waiting on a ghost—or worse, an outlaw. Carving out survival for her and her young daughter in a ghost town requires trusting in the kindness of a few remaining souls, including the one who can unlock the mystery of her husband’s disappearance.

A century later, trying to escape the heartache of his failed marriage, Johnny Sutherland throws himself into raising his child and restoring a hundred-year-old abandoned farmhouse in California’s San Jacinto Mountains. While exploring its secrets he uncovers the letters Juniper wrote to her Dearest John and is moved by the handwritten accounts that bear his name. Having learned that truth and courage go hand in hand, Johnny dares to love again, and armed with lessons from the past, a modern-day romance unfolds in the very same mountains that once held a love story that touched history.

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This is one of those stories that lingers with you long after you read the last page.  The characters in this book came to life as I read about their heartache, their struggles, their perseverance and their hope.  I felt myself being drawn into their lives and their emotions.  I love when that happens. 

Told in a dual timeline, the past unfolds and is locked into place by those seeking to learn in the present.  Johnny has his own struggles but it felt like his job was to reinforce the events of the past.  I liked the message that we need to remember those who went before us, learn and honor their stories and connect with the lessons the past can teach us.

My heart though?  It was deeply rooted with Juniper in the past.  Her story was rich and thick; full of grace and strength.  I loved the whole cast from the past.  Honestly, it could have been just them and I would have been completely happy.

I love how this author crafts her stories and the way she makes her characters feel alive and connected to me emotionally even though I've never lived through what these people have lived through.  It's amazing.  I loved this story.

Content:  mild peril, kissing, Christian elements (praying, faith, etc.)

- I received a complimentary copy of this book.  All opinions expressed are my own.

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