There are so many hearts of gold clanking about in this fat, splashy period romance (Pacific Coast, 1869) that it glistens...



There are so many hearts of gold clanking about in this fat, splashy period romance (Pacific Coast, 1869) that it glistens with molten goodness--in spite of the naughty bargains and horrid secrets of heroine ""Mary Smith."" Mary, it seems, is on the run from her past; and after fleeing to frontier Seattle in disguise (but believing she's still being followed) she offers her ""services"" to shipyard/timber tycoon Jason Drake--""the Tiger""--in exchange for protection. So the sex roars on automatic pilot (""Take everything off""). But Tiger, still grieving for his dead wife Gaiety--who died giving birth to son Jamie, now age ten--finds himself simmering with tenderer feelings. And he takes Mary on his ship to his own island off the coast, where live Jamie, the Tiger's mother Ellen, and an assortment of warm-hearted but variously handicapped people: two deaf mutes, an albino child, a horribly misshapen woodcarver, and a schoolteacher with a terrible secret. True, Mary feels the stigma of being merely ""Tiger's woman."" And she gets dirty looks from Ellen and from Jamie, a mean asthmatic little loner. But otherwise she starts winning all hearts, eventually even straightening out Jamie with some 20th-century therapy (""he was venting his anger. . . it was better out in the open"") and earning Ellen's respect. Can this happy time go on forever? Of course not. A plague brings death to several on the island, and Mary, in a fever, babbles her dark secret, the identity of her demon lover: none other than a vicious, insane father! Grieving, she flees to San Francisco; Tiger stalks after and they marry; there's rejoicing from all the loving friends and employees in the lumber camp, Seattle, and the Bay. But someone is out to ruin Tiger by torching his ships and timber--Mad Dad himself--and there'll be a final cliffside struggle. . . . With some pleasant scenery and solid information about lumbering in the Northwest--another long but comfortably undemanding costume-saga from the author of The Proud Breed (1978).

Pub Date: June 1, 1981


Page Count: -

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1981