Book Beat - In Golden Splendor by Michael K. Reynolds

Seamus Hanley has nothing going for him. Wanted as an Army deserter, he lives in exile in the Rockies - but he doesn't have the wilderness skills needed to survive. After he witnesses a stagecoach crash, he finds a letter and photo from Ashlyn Whittington.

In San Francisco, Ashlyn is running a home for unwanted children, but she's in dire need of help. Seamus decides to find this woman and sets off across America to do so. He finds more than he's looking for.

Set at the height of Gold Rush Fever, In Golden Splendor by Michael K. Reynolds follows the Hanley family (introduced in the excellent Flight of the Earls) through more adventures. Seamus Hanley is an appealing hero, a man trying to come to grips with his shady past, while planning for a sparkling future. The side characters are also a kick (especially hapless snake-oil salesman Winn). I particularly enjoyed the historical backdrop of 1949 San Francisco, complete with the grittiness of the era.

I'm very much looking forward to the last book in the series, Song of the Shenandoah, which follows the Hanleys into the Civil War. Note: While In Golden Splendor does stand alone, you'll want to read Flight of the Earls first - one of my favorite novels of last year.

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