TARNISHED GOLD by Barbara Townsend
Placer City, Wyoming, 1933: Em Olson struggles to keep her log hotel operating in the busted gold mining town. Her only help comes from a spoiled cousin and a loyal but disabled family friend. Her sister in California encourages Em to sell the crumbling family hotel. Their father had abandoned the family years earlier–an act that Em believes caused her mother’s death. But the thought of leaving the peace of her mountain village for the bustle of a major city repulses her.
While Em worries over the decision, a handsome geologist arrives at her hotel to scout for a gold mine for his boss. He explores the area for a suitable prospect as the attraction between Em and Finch grows. She’s stunned when he uncovers a swindle involving her property. Then she’s horrified when he stumbles on the reason for her father’s disappearance. Stressed to the breaking point, she seeks answers to so many questions while the man she has grown to love prepares to depart on his next assignment.
Book Excerpt of Tarnished Gold by Barbara Townsend:
Lewis hesitated. His eyes darted to the north edge of the hotel. “Do you know Samuel Quint is staring at your barn from the chicken coop enclosure?”
“Sam’s on my property?”
Lewis gave a quick nod of his head. “Want me to stick around for a while, Em?”
She turned to stare at the building’s corner, around which Sam Quint snooped. “No, thanks, Lewis. I can take care of him myself.”
With a forefinger, he touched the bill of his cap and turned away .
Em spun on her heels, tossed the mail on the counter as she dashed through the kitchen, trotted through the dining room then the living room. Through the door’s window that faced the chicken coop, she watched.
Samuel Quint stepped outside the enclosure and studied the coop’s walls. His head towered above the coop’s five-foot-high peaked roof. His dirty blue jeans sagged and his once-white shirt appeared to have been slept in. He raised a hand to touch one of the boards.
“What the …?” Em seized the doorknob and threw open the door. She hurried down the porch steps.
As her heels struck the steps, Quint turned and watched Em approach. He held up his hands, palms out. “Now, Em, don’t get your pants in a wad.” The local freighter and alleged-whiskey runner who lived to the northwest of the Olson Hotel always seemed to enjoy belittling her and her family. He slowly stepped toward the gate.
“What the … are you doing?” Em cried. She stopped feet from him and tipped her head back to look into the huge man’s face. She crossed her arms.
Quint’s chin nearly touched his barrel chest as he stared down at her. “I’m just checking out the place to see how much I would pay you for it.”
Rather than be intimidated, Em forced herself to take a small step forward. “Last month when I chased you out of my barn, I told you this place is not for sale.” She raised her arm toward the gate. “Now leave. I wouldn’t traipse around your property without your permission and I don’t appreciate you snooping around my place without my mine.”
He raised his hands to his chest. “I’m a charitable man.” Em snorted.
“I heard you’re having a rough go since your dad left for the California gold fields. Then there’s your mother—God rest her soul.” Quint snatched his soiled cowboy hat off his head, slapped it to his chest, and then clapped the hat back on his damp head. “She left you all alone. I thought you might be about desperate to sell and I’m seeing what this place and the mine is worth.”
“You already know the hotel is not for sale. Not now, not ever. And the mine’s not worth what Father paid for it, even if he did get it cheap.”
Quint stared at a distant hill. His lips and cheeks bulged as his tongue moved around his teeth. With a loud “sip” sound, he looked down at Em.
“Oh, yeah, the restitution Walt Denton bestowed on your father for shooting him when they were both drunk.” Quint watched the two chickens pecking at the ground. He spun back. “Tell your father to sell me the mine or this hotel.” He stomped toward the gate.
Her chest heaved from the building anguish until the sensation changed to fury, finally erupting out her eyes. With her sleeve she wiped off the stream of tears. “You know well and good I don’t know where he is!”
– Joan in Michigan: “I loved, loved, loved the book. The second time I sat down to read I had to finish it, there was no way I could wait to see what happened next. Great story, many surprises. … You must have done a lot of research for the setting of the time for this story. … I can see Tarnished Gold being a great movie.”
– Jo in Arizona: “Loved the read!”
– Jim in Tennessee: “Really good character building and scene description!”
– Beth in Wyoming: “Thought it was the best of the three [books written by the author]. The local area setting was perfect.”