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.
My thoughts...There are rare moments when I read a book and it affects me deeply. Enough to cause a few tears to come as I not only get lost in the story, but feel a deep personal connection. "The Gold in These Hills" was one of those stories. This book was filled with tenderness and heartache that I've felt in my own life, written with a level of descriptive language that painted word pictures on the pages. The loss of a loved one and how it changes you. The tenderness of friendship that brings comfort through the loss. The stench of betrayal and how trust is hard won after being hurt so deeply, yet God can patiently wash the layers of dirt and grime of it away over time, bringing restoration. Embracing humility in some of the most difficult of situations. The love that is found through community. All of these things are what I took away when I finished the final page. I knew I would love this book before I started, having certain expectations based on the author, title, and summary...but this was so much more than I imagined. There's a plaque I've had my eye on for months that says, "There is gold in every piece of your story." This is the perfect summary for this book. I would highly recommend it. Bravo, Joanne Bischof!
**Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher via Netgalley in order to give my honest opinion, which I did.**