Title: On the Trail to Moonlight Gulch
Author: Shelter Somerset
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Characters: Tory and Franklin
The 320-page novel takes place in 1886 Chicago and the Black Hills. Chicago is booming, but for nineteen-year-old Torsten Pilkvist, American-born son of Swedish immigrants, it’s not big enough. After tragically losing a rare love, Tory immerses himself in the pages of a Wild West mail-order bride magazine, where he stumbles on the advertisement of frontiersman and Civil War veteran Franklin Ausmus. Torsten and Franklin begin an innocent correspondence—or as innocent as it can be, considering Torsten keeps his true gender hidden. But when his parents discover the letters, Tory is forced out on his own. With nowhere else to go, he boards a train for the Black Hills and Franklin’s homestead, Moonlight Gulch.
Franklin figures Tory for a drifter, but he’s lonely after ten years of living in the backcountry alone, and his “girl” in Chicago has mysteriously stopped writing, so he hires Tory on as his ranch hand. Franklin and Tory grow closer while defending the land from outlaws who want the untapped gold in Franklin’s creek, but then Franklin learns Tory’s true identity and banishes Tory from his sight. Will their lives be forever tattered, or will Torsten—overhearing a desperate last-ditch scheme to snatch Franklin’s gold—be able to save Moonlight Gulch and his final shot at love?
Tory is the first American child born to Swedish immigrants living in 1880’s Chicago. His life is filled with working in the family’s bakery and boarding house until he meets Joseph. Having Joseph in his life, as a friend and a lover, makes Tory want more out of life then just casual sexual encounters. After tragedy strikes the young couple Tory slowly loses his way and becomes just a shadow moving through the motions of life. A fateful encounter with a mail order bride magazine gives Tory the light needed to return to society.
Franklin, a wounded Civil War veteran, is lonely and wants to share his life with someone as he grows older. He places an ad, for a mail order bride, in a magazine hoping to find his someone special. He receives many responses but the one that catches his heart belongs to a woman name Torsten. After corresponding for two months Franklin is sadden when Torsten’s letters stop arriving. He heart is shattered as he realizes that he was falling in love with the author of those letters.
When Tory and Franklin finally come together it is such a wonder to see how easily their lives become intertwined so quickly. A love, that is so natural, starts to grow while they work together doing everyday chores tending the homestead. Yet, as a reader, we know that Tory’s deception will cause a huge rift between them when it is discovered by Franklin.
On the Trail to Moonlight Gulch is a love story that will warm your heart and bring tears to your eyes at times. I highly recommend this book.
Reviewed By: Vonda