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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Aggie Villaneuva Reviews Romance Set in New Mexico

Love Finds You in Golden New Mexico
by Lena Nelson Dooley
$12.99 Paperback
349 pages
Also available in Kindle Format
Summerside Press, Spring, 2010, ISBN 978-1-935416-74-6
Genre: Inspirational Romance

Reviewed by Aggie Villanueva

I was first drawn to Lena Nelson Dooley’s new book, Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico, because I once lived in the (no longer) ghost town of Madrid, right next to Golden, and spent much time also in Cerrillos, where some major scenes take place, and all along the beautiful Turquoise Trail that her characters bounced over by wagon.

Though her hungry characters never got to dine there as planned, the writer brought back fond memories of fabulous New Mexican cuisine and Sunday morning brunches as she described the only restaurant in Cerrilos where the train used to stop, and across the town square from Mary’s Bar, the old Saloon. This restaurant is still operating, though the train isn’t.

Ms. Dooley keeps us mindful of the historical setting in the early 1800s. Having lived next door, I know that you can now drive through Golden without knowing you have. But Dooley early on registers the fact with readers that in 1830 it was the bustling home of the first gold strike west of the Mississippi, predating both the Colorado and California gold strike by several years.

Her thorough research is as constant throughout the story as is the continual thumping of the gold stamping machine that backdropped each day of life in Golden. But its Ms. Dooley’s characters and unfolding suspense that drew me into the story, beyond just the familiar places she researched so well.

Boston’s elite, Madeline Mercer, is suddenly penniless after her seemingly healthy and definitely wealthy father dropped dead at his business. And then on top of that Horace Johnstone, longtime employee of her father’s, shows up claiming he is not only a full partner in the business but that Maddy’s father promised her to him in marriage should anything ever happen to him. He threateningly gave her a two-week deadline until their wedding day.

I in the process of checking out Mr. Johnstone Frank Sneed, one of only two servants she could keep, found a ray of hope – a mail order bride ad in the Boston newspaper. The advertiser was a miner in Golden, New Mexico.

If it weren’t for her only remaining servants, Sarah and Frank Sneed, more like Godparents than servants, she could have never escaped into the night to reluctantly answer that ad, toting the orphaned baby its mother had begged her to raise as her own.

The trials of the overland train ride and acquaintance of the advertiser, Phillip Smith, a Godly but aging wealthy miner, were behind her. Their friendship established and growing, Maddy looked forward to being like a daughter to Smith, who was already a grandfather to her baby. But she hadn’t factored in Smith’s best friend, the young Jeremiah.

Jeremiah, sure Maddy was after the old man’s money, set the Sheriff to investigating her. When a wanted poster with Maddy’s face on it arrived in Golden, along with the enraged Horace Johnstone, her world, once more, turned tragic just when Maddy (and readers) thought things were turning out well for her.

If you love inspirational romances, suspense to the end, and characters you care about then you’ll love Lena Nelson Dooley’s newest book. And you’ll anxiously look forward to her next.


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