(4 / 5)
Miss Millie Virginia knows she is taking a risk by answering a wife-wanted ad placed by a goldmining prospector in the Colorado Territory town of Idaho Springs. But the thought of staying in her hometown of New Orleans and remaining a housekeeper and nanny for the dreadful LeGrand family for the rest of her life is worse. So, she heads west. Her biggest fear, that her husband-to-be won’t like her, or vice versa, becomes a moot point when she arrives in Idaho Springs to find out that he has died. In very short order, she inherits a mine many in town suspect is full of gold, a strange man is taking baths in her living room, and someone wants her dead.
The Lucky Hat Mine by J.v.L. Bell is a lively foray through a burgeoning goldmining town in 1860s Colorado. The author provides a real sense of place in her depictions of the breathtaking beauty of the terrain and the mercurial, sometimes unforgiving weather that are part of living in the Rocky Mountains. Her largely rough-and-tumble cast of characters is richly rendered. The women in particular, are strong, intelligent, tenacious, and gutsy. While The Lucky Hat Mine is definitely a murder mystery, the romantic subplot of the book is fun and flirty and well done. The writing is at times laugh-out-loud funny as the prim and proper Millie struggles to reconcile her Southern expectations of decency and propriety with the coarse yet often necessary realities of the untamed West. The suspicion that Millie’s fiancé may have been murdered, along with ever-increasing threats towards Millie create wonderful tension throughout the book and keep the reader guessing. The Lucky Hat Mine is both charming and suspenseful and is a must-read for mystery sleuths, romcom fans, and gold miners alike.