Title: The Only Gold
Author: Tamara Allen
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Characters: Jonah Woolner, Reid Hylliard
POV: 3rd person
Setting: Manhattan, New York 1888
Sub-Genre: Historical Romance/Crime Drama
Cover Rating: 4
Jonah Woolner’s life is as prudently regulated as the bank where he works. It’s a satisfying life until he’s passed over for promotion in favor of newcomer Reid Hylliard. Brash and enterprising, Reid beguiles everyone except Jonah, who’s convinced Reid’s progressive ideas will be the bank’s ruin. When Jonah begins to discover there’s more to Reid than meets the eye, he risks succumbing to Reid’s charms-but unlocking the vault to all of Reid’s secrets could lead him down a dangerous path.
Losing his promotion-and perhaps his heart-is the least of Jonah’s difficulties. When the vengeful son of a Union army vet descends upon the bank to steal a government deposit of half a million dollars during the deadliest blizzard to ever sweep New York, Jonah and Reid are trapped, at odds and fighting for their lives.
On Tuesday, March 13, 1888, the New York Times headline read:
IN A BLIZZARD’S GRASP.
The worst storm the city has ever known.
Business travel completely suspended.
New York helpless in a tornado of wind and snow which paralyzed all industry, isolated the city from the rest of the country, caused many accidents and great discomfort, and exposed it to many dangers.
March 11, 1888 was a seasonably mild day, with a light rain falling on the city of New York. By March 12th, in a matter of hours, as temperatures plummeted into the single digits and winds gusted as high as eighty miles per hour, the light rain that had grown to a torrential downpour that blanketed the city, changed over to snow; it quickly buried Manhattan and the surrounding boroughs under drifts of up to thirty feet deep, crippling transportation, leaving the city without electricity and with very little food on store shelves. The fatal storm moved through in a mere thirty-six hours, and left a trail of destruction along the entire Northeastern seaboard.
It is during this brief period of time, these few short days, that Jonah Woolner’s own world transforms from routinely mild into a blizzard of danger and near devastation.
Thirty-three year old Jonah lives and breathes convention and strict order. His fourteen year tenure at Grandborough Bank is one of ritual and discipline that suits him well. His unwavering dedication and loyalty to the bank and to his position as acting cashier is, he’s reasonably certain, what will guarantee him to be the likely candidate to take over the role on a permanent basis. When he’s passed over for the promotion, the humiliation and embarrassment of losing the position to an outsider—a man who is arrogantly set on upsetting the status quo—leaves Jonah in a state of shock. It’s only his pride and determination to keep the bank set in the ways that have served it so well and succeeded in promoting it from a state to a national depository that stops Jonah from quitting his position as assistant cashier to Reid Hylliard.
Jonah is Reid’s perfect foil—as rigid, discrete, and set in his ways as Reid is brash, outgoing, and spontaneous, not at all the image of a staid and respectable banker in a staid and respectable institution. The two men are instant foes, as Jonah’s antagonism toward the charming Reid keeps them at near constant odds and provides for so much tension and conflict that I nearly gnawed through my lower lip in fits of anxiety.
What seems to be a near impossible working relationship, a division of insurmountable proportions, a conflict of ideals and goals, as well as an aversion to the other’s methods, all comes crashing down with a single kiss, and the realization that they each, indeed, are more alike than they’d imagined. They each exist in a private exile apart from what they show to the public, which brings them together more surely than any working relationship ever could. But can their growing bond withstand secrets, a bank heist, and a betrayal during one of the deadliest winter storms in history? That’s something you’ll have to find out on your own. When love is on the line, anything is possible.
The Only Gold is an outstanding novel. How much did I love it? I read the entire book in about twelve hours, as I was unwilling to put it down for long. For fans of the historical genre, I would go so far as to say this is an absolute must read. The book is that rare blend of action, romance, atmosphere, setting, conflict, and characterization that, when it all comes together, creates the perfect storm of fiction.
Jonah and Reid are not only tremendously engaging protagonists, but they’re also very well realized. There is a great amount of depth to each of them that endeared them to me. I was entirely invested in their story, and have imagined them long beyond “The End”.
Here’s to hoping Tamara Allen might be imagining a sequel too.
Reviewed By: Lisa