On The Trail To Moonlight Gulch
Author Shelter Somerset, whose previous works include "Between Two Worlds" and "Between Two Promises," invites readers along on a young man's quest to find love circa the late 19th century Wild West in the romantic adventure, "On the Trail to Moonlight Gulch."
Nineteen-year-old, American-born Torsten Pilkvist is the son of Swedish immigrants, and Chicago, the city where "Tory" and his parents call home, has become a mecca for industry since the Great Fire of 1871. When his family lets a room in their boarding house to New York entrepreneur Joseph van Werckhoven, sparks fly and the two gentlemen embark upon a passionate love affair.
Soon after their short-lived courtship ends in tragedy, Tory responds to an ad in "Matrimonial News," a personals publication designed to help lonely individuals find someone special. He begins to correspond with Franklin Ausmus, a Civil War veteran from out West who lost his arm in battle, however Tory neglects to mention to his newfound pen pal that he's a male.
When his parents discover the letters and forbid any further communication, Tory storms off on a mission to find Franklin's homestead, Moonlight Gulch. Despite numerous obstacles, the two eventually meet and become fast friends. Franklin, it turns out, is quite well known, because Moonlight Gulch rests atop a goldmine, and those willing to do anything for gold are starting to close in on his land. Meanwhile, as Frank grows fonder of Tory each day, he remains unaware that his companion is the author of the letters.
Somerset has created two extremely likeable characters from different backgrounds and generations, yet their connection is genuine and complementary. Tory behaves very much like an awestruck teen, and Frank is ever the older man accustomed to being alone yet welcoming of another's company. It seems perfectly natural for them to have found each other, however unconventionally.
In addition to the romance, Frank's ongoing conflict with his townsfolk makes for an exciting read and serves as a grim reminder that issues of dirty politics, smear tactics and greed are an integral albeit shameful part of America's history.
On the Trail to Moonlight Gulch