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The Lucky Hat Mine Kindle Edition
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After a mighty three month travelling ordeal, Millie arrives in Idaho Springs to fulfil her role as the new wife of miner J W Drouillard. However, she soon discovers that Mr D recently died in a mining accident; luckily he had already bequeathed his cabin and mine to Millie as a precaution.
What should Millie do? Head back east straight away? Sell the mine and find a place to live, perhaps in Denver? Or marry one of the many townsmen eager for her hand? Wisely Millie decides to take her time and not rush into any decisions. Mr D’s cabin surprises and delights Millie; once an orphan she now owns her first home. Mr D had previously installed some new mod cons at great expensive, in preparation for his new wife.
There is a sense of fun to the storyline: Millie is proposed to on a daily basis by a stream of miners, all anxious to buy Mr D’s mine and take a wife. However, there is also a more sinister side as Millie receives threats from an unknown source, trying to scare her away. Another danger comes with the arrival of a man who knew her father; parents whom Millie never knew. Her illusion of them is shattered when the bandit explains he’s after the silver her father stole. Resourceful and independent Millie deals with him and has him arrested.
When Mr D’s brother turns up, Millie must tell him about her fiancé’s death, but Dom refuses to believe it was an accident and is determined to find the truth. With Millie’s fiery red headed temper and Dom’s ability to constantly ruffle her feathers, the two share the cabin on uneasy terms. Yet they have a common bond in the need to seek the truth behind Mr D’s demise.
The book was a good old western delight. The constant drama of Buttercup the goat kept the scenes light. The details about rocks and early gold mining were interesting, although the news about the war was more stilted and tended towards info dumping. I enjoyed the descriptions of the area and the hot springs, and knew some of the place-names from travelling in Colorado, which gave me a personal link to the tale.
I would recommend this to those who like a fun read, enjoy early US western style colonisation tales, and like a little romance in the story they read.
I was asked to review The Lucky Hat Mine for Rosie’s Book Review Team. Because I was traveling, I wasn’t able to download it from Netgalley or even download the offered copy of the audiobook. But when I heard that the audio was narrated by Nancy Wu, I went straight to my Audible UK account and bought a copy. And I’m so glad I did, although the mix of humor, historical detail, and great story earned me some odd looks as I laughed out loud while walking the dog.
WHAT DID YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT THIS STORY?
This is a western, both due to its historical period and initial tales of crossing the prairie by covered wagon. But author JvL Bell takes on almost every western trope and makes it her own. For example, in your standard Western, women come in two kickass models: good (frontier wives/ preachers’ daughters) and bad (dance-hall girls/Soiled Doves such as Big Nose Kate, Doc Holliday’s common law wife). Occasionally, the Soiled Doves—if they had a Heart-of-Gold—become good saloon owners (like Miss Kitty in Gunsmoke) or even wives. But Miss Permelia Abingdon Virginia—Millie to her friends—is a genteel Southern lady. Despite being raised in an orphanage, she’s worked darn hard to become one, memorizing and frequently quoting from her two bibles: THE LADIES’ BOOK OF ETIQUETTE and MANUAL OF POLITENESS: a complete handbook for the use of the lady in polite society by Florence Hartley, (actually published in 1873, whist the story is set in 1863), and TRUE POLITENESS, A hand-book of etiquette for ladies by An American Lady (1847).
But when the War of Northern Aggression (Civil War) makes Millie a virtual household slave to the LeGrand family, leaving her with almost no chance for marriage and a family of her own, she decides take an almost unthinkable gamble and become a mail-order bride. After enduring the horrors of a westward journey, she arrives at the gold-mining town of Idaho Springs Colorado to find that her proposed husband is in a pine coffin, “resting in the river” (because it was just too warm to leave him exposed to air)—leaving her to become “The Widow D” and heir to her dead fiance’s gold mine.
Idaho Springs’ woman-starved and gold-hungry residents immediately begin proposing marriage and offering to buy the mine. Shocked, Millie refuses all offers and moves into her dead almost-husband’s cabin. As she continues to rebuff proposals and receive ever-increasing offers to purchase her mine, Millie starts to carve out a tentative life for herself, befriending Mary, a black woman living in the next cabin, as well as her other new neighbors. But nothing in her etiquette bibles has prepared her for her unexpected new roommate—Dom, her dead fiance’s brother.
As the story unwinds with a side-mystery involving her mysterious parents, Millie survives proposals, attempts on her life, and a pregnant fainting goat. And she does it all with humor, appreciation for the people she meets, hope for the future, and a healthy dose of strong willed determination.
HAVE YOU LISTENED TO ANY OF NANCY WU’S OTHER PERFORMANCES? HOW DOES THIS ONE COMPARE?
Narrator Nancy Wu is one of my favorite audiobook performers. In this one, she absolutely shines as she employs different accents and voice pitch to make the various characters come alive. I think most of the large supporting cast of characters could not possibly have seemed so hilariously real without Ms. Wu’s ability to give each their own voice. But it was the way she performed with obvious joy in the story and the humor that made the book really live for me.
WAS THERE A MOMENT IN THE BOOK THAT PARTICULARLY MOVED YOU?
There were many moments that had me laughing out loud, but perhaps the most moving one is where Millie, who is terrified of caves, goes into a collapsed mine tunnel to rescue her pet fainting goat Buttercup.
ANY ADDITIONAL COMMENTS?
I love the way Millie’s character develops, from a young girl relying on the etiquette she’s learned to grow beyond her life as an orphan, eventually becoming a strong-willed (but always proper) woman who takes charge of her own destiny. The other characters in the book were also amusing, but not well-defined. My only real disappointment was in how the story seemed to end suddenly. The romance that grows between Dom and Millie is sweet, but her incessant wonder/worry about just what a husband’s “rights” might be stops a little too abruptly. I would have liked to see her move beyond the bedroom to embrace her new life and destiny.
The setting is particularly effective. Not only does the author provide detailed word pictures of the area, but she fills in with a number of amusing and historically-accurate stories and details. Overall, The Lucky Hat Mine is an engaging, funny, clean romance. With fainting goats. Who could resist?
The Lucky Hat Mine is a classic old west tale complete with miners, murder and mail order brides.But... the mail order bride's husband-to-be was the murder victim and all the miners are lining up to propose.
Fortunately, our heroine is made of stern stuff and despite the fact that she spouts off rules of etiquette at every occasion and constantly reminds the men to watch their language, she gets along just fine, and even thrives, in the Colorado mining town she has landed in.
Would I recommend it?
There is a goat in this book! A fainting goat. So, clearly, yes. Also there is a great strong female lead, humor, a smidgen of romance, a murder mystery all wrapped up in a western. What's not to love!?!
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I discovered this book because I’m a proud member of Rosie’s Book Review Team!
The side characters were also well written and provided much amusement. The darker characters were menacing enough that the suspense and intrigue had me on the edge of my seat. I really enjoyed this book and would certainly look out for more by the author.
I listened to the audio book and the author's performance of Millie when she was arguing with Dom amused me a lot. The characters were brought to life and I found the couple to be that little bit more adorable than if I had read the story in my head.
I voluntarily received a review copy of the audio book.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The characters Millie befriends are sometimes hilarious, but most often dangerous, with bold and calculated murders happening at any given time. Most darling was Buttercup, adding a touch of fun to the story. Topping everything off, we find out how this gold mine got it's most unusual name.
Bell's research was extensive as she blends fiction into the facts of that time period. Millie, Mary and Mr. D. have some ups and downs (to put it mildly) in their relationships as they all adjust to new living conditions. Bell had me laughing one moment, scared the next and almost making my stomach turn with the remarkable ways Millie turned wild food into the most sought after food in town.
By the time I finished the book, I learned a few new historical facts and had a new respect for the way of life back in 1800's.
In my opinion, the book is very well written, has many interesting historical details; it is funny and makes you feel good while you reading and long after that. I would definitely recommend it to my friends, it is a good entertaining read, especially for a coming holiday season.
The Lucky Hat Mine is a great read.