The California Gold Rush Romance Collection: 9 Stories of Finding Treasures Worth More than Gold

The California Gold Rush Romance Collection: 9 Stories of Finding Treasures Worth More than Gold


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The California Gold Rush Romance Collection: 9 Stories of Finding Treasures Worth More than Gold by Amanda Barratt, Angela Bell, Dianne Christner, Anne Greene

Rush to California after the 1848 gold discovery alongside thousands of hopeful men and women. Meet news reporters, English gentry, miners, morticians, marriage brokers, bankers, fugitives, preachers, imposters, trail guides, map makers, cooks, missionaries, town builders, soiled doves, and more people who take advantage of the opportunities to make their fortunes in places where the population swelled overnight. But can faith and romance transform lives where gold is king?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781634098212
Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Incorporated
Publication date: 08/01/2016
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 645,797
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

ECPA bestselling author Amanda Barratt, fell in love with writing in grade school when she wrote her first story—a spinoff of Jane Eyre. Now, Amanda writes inspirational historical romance, penning stories that transport readers to a variety of locales. These days, Amanda can be found reading way too many books, watching an eclectic mix of BBC dramas and romantic chick flicks, and trying to figure out a way to get on the first possible flight to England. She loves hearing from readers on Facebook and through her website

Novelist Angela Bell is a 21st century lady with 19th century sensibilities. Her activities consist of reading voraciously, drinking copious amounts of tea, and writing letters with a fountain pen. She currently resides in the southern most region of Texas with pup Mr. Darcy and kitty Lizzie Bennett. One might describe Angela’s fictional scribblings as historical romance or as Victorian history and steampunk whimsy in a romantic blend. Whenever you need a respite from the 21st century hustle, please visit her cyber-space parlor where she can be found waiting with a pot of English tea and some Victorian cordiality.

DIANNE CHRISTNER lives in New River, Arizona, where life sizzles in the summer when temperatures soar above 100 degrees as she writes from her air-conditioned home office. She enjoys the desert life, where her home is nestled in the mountains and she can watch quail and the occasional deer, bobcat, or roadrunner.   Dianne was raised Mennonite and works hard to bring authenticity to Mennonite fiction. She now worships at a community church. She’s written over a dozen novels, most of which are historical fiction. She gets caught up in research having to set her alarm to remember to switch the laundry or start dinner. But her husband of forty-plus years is a good sport. They have two married children, Mike and Rachel, and five grandchildren, Makaila, Elijah, Vanson, Ethan, and Chloe.  She welcomes you to visit her website at

ANNE GREENE delights in writing about gutsy heroines and alpha heroes who aren’t afraid to fall on their knees in prayer. She and her hero husband, Army Special Forces Colonel Larry Greene, live in McKinney, TX. Two of her four children live nearby. Tim LaHaye led her to the Lord when she was twenty-one, and Chuck Swindoll is her pastor. Anne’s highest hope is that her stories transport the reader to an awesome new world and touch hearts to seek a deeper spiritual relationship with the Lord Jesus. To learn more of Anne, visit her at She teaches a novel writing class on her blog . She contributes monthly to Anne loves to visit with her fans.

Cynthia Hickey grew up in a family of storytellers and moved around the country a lot as an army brat. Her desire is to write about real, but flawed characters in a wholesome way that her seven children and five grandchildren can all be proud of. She and her husband live in Arizona where Cynthia is a full-time writer.

CBA Bestselling author Pam Hillman was born and raised on a dairy farm in Mississippi and spent her teenage years perched on the seat of a tractor raking hay. In those days, her daddy couldn't afford two cab tractors with air conditioning and a radio, so Pam drove an Allis Chalmers 110. Even when her daddy asked her if she wanted to bale hay, she told him she didn't mind raking. Raking hay doesn't take much thought so Pam spent her time working on her tan and making up stories in her head. Now, that's the kind of life every girl should dream of.

Jennifer Rogers Spinola, a Virginia/South Carolina native and graduate of Gardner-Webb University in North Carolina, just moved to the States with her Brazilian husband, Athos, and two sons. Jennifer lived in Brazil for nearly eight years after meeting her husband in Sapporo, Japan, where she worked as a missionary. During college, she served as a National Park Service volunteer at Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. In between homeschooling high-energy sons, Jennifer loves things like adoption, gardening, snow, hiking, and camping.

Professional coffee drinker, Jaime Jo Wright resides in the hills of Wisconsin. She loves to write spirited turn-of-the-century romance, stained with suspense. Her day job finds her as a Director of Sales and Development. She’s wife to a rock climbing, bow-hunting Pre-K teacher, mom to a coffee-drinking little girl, and a little boy she fondly refers to as her mischievous “Peter Pan.” Jaime completes her persona by being an admitted social media junkie and coffee snob. She is a member of ACFW and has the best writing sisters EVER! 

Read an Excerpt

The California Gold Rush Romance Collection

9 Stories of Finding Treasures Worth More than Gold

By Dianne Christner, Cynthia Hickey, Amanda Barratt, Angela Bell, Anne Greene, Linda Farmer Harris, Pam Hillman, Jennifer Rogers Spinola, Jaime Jo Wright

Barbour Publishing, Inc.

Copyright © 2016 Amanda Barratt
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-63409-911-0


New York City

March 1850

My office. 10:30 sharp. New assignment.

Arnold Payne wasn't exactly known for detailed memorandums. Or readable penmanship.

Lorena Quinn studied the scrawl-covered stationery, wishing she could decipher the man who wrote it as quickly as she did the scribbled handwriting. She'd never held much fondness for waiting. Especially when the one who dangled her future was her unpredictable and capricious senior editor.

Her gaze swung to the wall clock. Only fifteen minutes left. Fifteen minutes before she must leave the safety of her little office, cross the hall ...

Enter the grizzly's den.

Perhaps she was being a bit melodramatic. A fault of hers, one Payne made abundantly clear every time he covered her painstakingly written pieces with editorial marks and ink blots.

She stood, smoothing the folds of her gray silk dress with shaking hands. Though a bolder color would have boosted her confidence — mauve perhaps, or daring red — as the only female editor employed by the Weekly Observer, she did her best to appear matronly.

A glance in the mirror confirmed her failings. With a face full of freckles and rebellious curls too red to be called anything but, she was still little Lorena Quinn. Teased and tormented by every girl in Miss Harden's Grammar School.

Tomato head. Tomato head. Red, red tomato head.

Lorena pressed chilled fingertips to her eyes, willing the memories to return to the recesses of her mind and stay secreted away for good. It didn't matter what they called her. She wasn't that girl any longer. She was successful, talented, and had a nose for news rivaling that of any male competitor.


Payne's cavernous voice made her whirl. She squared her shoulders, straightened the cameo at her throat, and strode out of her rabbit hutch of an office.

Well, as much as a lady could stride wearing a crinoline and several starched petticoats.

As always, when she entered the senior editor's office, a sneeze tickled her nose. Arnold Payne sat, bulky frame ensconced behind a huge oak desk, clouds of cigar smoke wafting up like a chimney at full blast.

"I'm not late, am I?" She moved forward until only the desk stood between them.

Payne opened his watch with a click. "A full ten minutes. I suppose it's too much to expect punctuality from the feminine persuasion."

"You said ten thirty, did you not?" She drew in a breath of smokeladen air, the whalebone of her corset pinching.

"Ten twenty."

"Forgive me for my inability to read your chicken scratch. Shall I sit down?" As with every other available surface, stacks of papers and dozens of cigar butts cluttered the leather chair. Honestly, with the thousands he made, couldn't the man afford a simple ashtray?

"I doubt it would be worth the time it would take to move everything." Payne leaned back in his seat, surveying her with heavy-lidded eyes. "In short, Quinn, you'll be leaving on the next ship out to San Francisco. Gold fever is on everyone's lips, drummed into everyone's brain, and dreamed about on everyone's pillow. Thus, it seems only fitting that the Observer should join the fray with a series of firsthand accounts of the neck-or-nothing excitement of striking it rich. It was a tough debate deciding whether to send you or Galsworth, but I've made my choice. You'll set sail and enjoy shipboard luxury, if you can call it that, for a couple of months, dock in San Francisco, then get busy on detailed accounts of the money to be made simply by dipping a pan into a creek." He leaned forward, his half-smoked cigar between stubby, ink-stained fingers. "Understood?" Her mind spun like an out-of-control top. Leave New York? Her comfortable room at a downtown boardinghouse? Her reading club and literary society? And for what? To spend months aboard a ship, and even more months amongst uncivilized miners? Despite the tales of easy cash and gold for the picking, Lorena had her suspicions that very few had actually become rich. Hundreds upon hundreds had left the East and headed for these uncharted places. There couldn't possibly be enough gold for all.

Besides, she wasn't that kind of writer. Nor was the Weekly Observer that sort of magazine. Her specialty involved attending various social events and reporting on gossip and Mrs. Astor's latest Parisian ball gowns. And honestly, she was content with the way of things.

"No. That is not understood. This is not just some pleasure jaunt across New York State. It will involve months of travel. How can I possibly undertake such a trip?"

He drummed his fingers on the desk. "Shall I tell Galsworth I've changed my mind? That our lady employee has objections to a bit of discomfort?" His eyes gleamed with a knowing look.

She swallowed hard. There were moments when she longed for a real story, something of substance and value. Something that would shake the world, or at least New York City.

Perhaps ... this was her chance. If it involved a bit of discomfort while traveling, so be it. She could manage. She wasn't like the society misses who were featured in her columns, all prim and proper, furbelows and finery. No, she had pluck. Spirit, some called it. A spirit that could never be content knitting by the fire, while a husband conquered the world and kept her sheltered in a golden cage.

"How soon should I start packing?" She lifted her chin.

"You'll leave a week from today. That should give you plenty of time to sort through your female arsenal and decide which weapons of dress and decorum to take along for the benefit of those lonely miners. I'll say good-bye, Miss Quinn. It's a sorry day when the most dedicated member of my staff leaves my employ, but so be it. I expect a thank-you note from the man who claims you."

Confusion tumbled in her mind. "Leave your employ? You don't expect me to return?" Was the Wild West really so dangerous that Mr. Payne feared for her life?

"Oh, I expect you to return all right." He chuckled, the sound sending a shiver down her spine, like a spider crawling under her chemise. "But the little gold band on your finger will certainly prevent you from working for me."

"Little gold band?" A gasp broke loose — and not because of the smoke.

"Why, of course. Don't you realize that there are literally thousands of men out there and not a woman in sight? Even with your ... um ... unusual appearance, you're sure to find someone. Those men are desperate."

Her hands balled into fists. Oh, if she were a man and Payne were not her employer. She'd demand satisfaction and knock some sense into his melon-shaped head with a few well-placed blows. Unfortunately, she was a lady and Payne was the man who paid her salary. Still ...

"Mr. Payne! Are you suggesting that I travel to the gold fields in search of a husband? Those men may be desperate, but I certainly am not. Even with my 'unusual appearance,' as you so tactfully put it, I could find a man to marry in New York quite easily if I so desired. But I do not, and I have every intention of returning to New York City, and to this office, single, unattached." She lowered her voice, making every syllable count. "And without a husband."

"Humph!" Payne snorted. "My dear lady, the likelihood of such a happy event failing to take place is about as probable as pigs flying."

She ground her teeth. "As I said before, Mr. Payne, I shall return, not only unmarried, but with my heart unswayed by the cadre of 'lonely miners,' no matter how many ask for my hand."

He hefted his substantial bulk out of the chair. "Care to place a little wager on it?"

"I'd be delighted."

"Well, if ... if you return without accepting a single proposal of marriage, I might ... no, I will be inclined to offer you that oh-so-coveted position of assistant editor that should become available as soon as dear old Grimsby hands in his notice of retirement. Are we agreed?"

The opportunity danced before her, as golden as the nuggets residing in California's streams. Assistant editor! Never in all her born days had she imagined holding such a desirable title. Her breath caught. Just think what it would mean for women. If she gained the position and did well, it could open up opportunities for women everywhere, showing men that not all ladies were content with only marriage and babies. And she would do well. More than well.

"Agreed." She held out her hand, ink-smudged fingers clasping ink-smudged fingers. What traitors her emotions were. Moments ago she'd wanted to throttle the man. Now she wanted to hug him. Her nose wrinkled again at the odor of stale cigars.

Maybe not.

"Now, get out of my office. I've got a load of work to do, and you have a trip to pack for." He resumed his seat.

She nodded and let herself out, a smile finding its way to her lips. A trip to pack for. A voyage to undertake.

And when she returned, a destiny to fulfill.

* * *

San Francisco, California

Caleb Maddox had boxed sixteen rounds with life. The result? Beaten, soundly beaten.




Now, all he wanted to do was close his eyes and let life go on around him. Or stop. He didn't much care either way.

He stood, stretched some of the tension from his shoulders, and crossed the room. A cup of lukewarm coffee and a square of cornbread sat on a table near the window. He took a sip and barely suppressed a groan. As usual, his coffee-making abilities had not improved. But then, what had?

Across the street, whoops and hollers pierced the air as the saloon doors swung open and three grizzle-bearded miners stumbled out, clutching small sacks in their fists. Undoubtedly they'd just returned from the fields, ripe with their findings, with hopes of doubling their riches at the roulette wheels and card tables within. Surprising that the fellows had anything left in their hands. Most played until the greedy saloon owners had taken all but the shirts on their backs. Then the men would go back to work long enough to conjure up more dust, so they could return to town and repeat the entire blasted process all over again.

Caleb turned away from the window. He had no right to judge them. Less than a year ago, he'd been like the rest. Eager. Rash. And like the rest, he'd ended up broke. No gold. His savings spent. Thankfully, he'd been able to take out a loan and start up a printing press and newspaper office in San Francisco. As for the gold fields, he'd said good-bye for good.

Contrary to what children's stories and Eastern newspapers said, there was no pot of gold waiting at the end of a rainbow, or the bottom of a stream. Only frostbitten feet, aching joints ...

Dark disillusionment.

He returned to his desk and, after perusing the article he'd just written about the price of vegetables, flipped through the stack of mail. If one could call two letters a stack, though by California standards, it probably was. Mail of any kind was about as scarce in these parts as a proper, Eastern woman.

The handwriting on the first envelope made a sheen of perspiration break out on his forehead. He'd know it anywhere. Chicken scratch, plenty of ink blots.

Heedless of the fact that paper was scarce and the envelope could have been reused, he ripped it open, unfolded the single sheet atop his desk, and read.


To use a cliché, I'll cut right to the chase. How long are you going to slave and sweat in the middle of heaven knows where? I heard from a friend that you've given up panning for the shiny stuff and are running a newspaper office instead. The idea is preposterous. Why don't you return to New York where you belong? Your old job is about to come up for grabs, and I'll let you have it back. We'll let bygones be bygones and say no more about the events surrounding your departure.

But first, I have an assignment for you. I'm sending out one of my reporters to do some stories on the riches to be found in your lovely little part of the state. I want you to look after her and help her retrieve material for the articles. Not only that, I want you to lay on the charm heavy as iron ore, convince the miss to fall head over slippered heels in love with you, and return to New York with her in tow. Once this is accomplished, you'll find your old office all shined up and ready for use. Only if you succeed, however.

The lady's name is Miss Lorena Quinn. She should be arriving by ship in San Francisco right around the time you receive this letter. I expect you to be at the dock waiting to pick her up.

So long for now. Remember — enjoy yourselves.

A. Payne

Caleb scrubbed a hand over his jaw, the words taking root in his mind. What kind of a crazy scheme was this? Convince some lady reporter to fall madly in love with him? Some New York lady reporter. And as a reward for his success, he'd gain his old job. How many times since arriving in California had he dreamed of the days spent in his office at the Weekly Observer? How many moments had he mentally kicked himself for leaving that life in the first place? He'd never thought to have such an opportunity again, yet here one was, put right under his nose, dished up on a silver ... no, make that golden, platter.

Never again, he'd promised himself. Never again would he let himself flirt, allow himself to be close to a woman of high society. He'd done it only once before.

And once had been more than enough.


Never in all her born days had she imagined such a quantity of mud could exist in any place on the Lord's green earth.

Exist it did. With an extra-large portion finding residence on the hem of her skirt and the tops of her boots.

So this was San Francisco. The place where fortunes were made, gold changed into coin.

It didn't look like much. Ramshackle buildings with rough wood exteriors, like patchwork quilts pieced together by a child's clumsy fingers. Huge tents mingled with a few brick buildings that stuck out like kings amid a field of peasants.

Lorena glanced behind, hoping to glimpse the reassuring sight of Brock and Melanie Jordan. Acquaintances of Mr. Payne, they'd been her traveling companions on the two-month voyage from New York to San Francisco. They seemed to have vanished, luggage and all. No doubt to act upon their visions of nuggets and dust. Visions they'd shared with her on the journey more times than she cared to remember.

Deciding there was nothing she could do except forge ahead, she lifted the sodden skirt of her traveling gown with one hand and her valise with the other. Her trunks would have to wait. Perhaps she could hire a wagon to transport them once she procured suitable lodging.

Hopefully her cases would still be there when she sent for them. No knowing how many thieves and vagabonds preyed upon this very street.

With one final glance toward the wharf and the pitiful sight of her two trunks, purchased especially for the voyage, she took a soggy step, keeping her gaze on the state of her dress.

"Well, I'll be ding-danged if this ain't a sight for sore eyes. Lookie here, Jimmy. A gen-u-ine woman."

Lorena glanced up. A beast ... no, a man stood a few feet away, staring at her as if she were the mother lode incarnate. A scraggly beard obscured most of his facial features and the front of his blue flannel shirt. Behind him, a younger, cleaner-shaven fellow gaped with equal awe.

"Don't you realize that there are literally thousands of men and not a woman in sight? Even with your ... um ... unusual appearance, you're sure to find someone. Those men are desperate."

Payne's words clanged in her mind like a gong. She sucked in a breath of fog-laden air. Surely these uncivilized miners wouldn't have the audacity to propose marriage on the spot.

Would they?

"I ain't seen one of them for a month of Sundays." The man called Jimmy took a step closer, his boots making sucking sounds in the muck. Not that the dirt seemed to daunt him any, for in the next second he was down on one knee, staring up at her.

"She's real pretty, ain't she?" He glanced at his bearded friend. Then back at her. "Little lady, will you marry me?"

"Aw, come on, Jim. I saw her first." The other man approached with giant steps and, before she could protest, swallowed her hand in his gnarled paw. "Don't you listen to Jimmy none, you pretty little thing. You come on and marry ole Abner Hopkins, and you'll be as happy as a cow in a patch of clover."

Good heavens, it was even worse than she expected. She yanked her gloved hand from the man's grip and took a step back. A crowd had gathered, and their whistles and hollered proposals mingled with the banjo and piano music spilling from a nearby saloon.

She lifted her chin, wishing she possessed more than her five feet, four inches in height.


Excerpted from The California Gold Rush Romance Collection by Dianne Christner, Cynthia Hickey, Amanda Barratt, Angela Bell, Anne Greene, Linda Farmer Harris, Pam Hillman, Jennifer Rogers Spinola, Jaime Jo Wright. Copyright © 2016 Amanda Barratt. Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


The Price of Love,
The Best Man in Brookside,
Civilizing Clementine,
The Marriage Broker and the Mortician,
The Lye Water Bride,
A Sketch of Gold,
Love Is a Puzzle,
The Golden Cross,
Gold Haven Heiress,

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The California Gold Rush Romance Collection: 9 Stories of Finding Treasures Worth More than Gold 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
MarisaD More than 1 year ago
Barbour novella collections continue to get better each year. The California Gold Rush collection contains nine novellas that shine with history, mystery, intrigue, romance, and faith. I enjoyed each novella, but the ones by Amanda Barratt, Jaime Jo Wright, and Angela Bell stand out as my favorites for superior writing and storytelling. With unique plotlines, compelling characters, and heart-spoken truths, the California Gold Rush Romance Collection is one you'll want for your keeper shelf.
PlsPassTheBooks More than 1 year ago
This is a cute little collection of California Gold Rush centered short stories. Nine authors with mostly different perspectives and writing styles, and stories entertaining enough—and, honestly, short enough—to keep me engaged. I've been on a frontier kick of late, plucking up all the books and movies I can on the theme. This hit a sweet spot, which was nice since the last couple of books I read were further off the mark. I think this compilation is perfect for anyone looking for reads that don't require much time or effort, or those wanting to sample bits from authors in the genre they've not tried before. These are well crafted, easy to read, and a fun way to pass the time. I'd like to thank NetGalley and the publisher, Barbour Books, for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion, which this certainly is.
WildflowerMom More than 1 year ago
An entertaining set of new novellas centered on all of the different people brought together in search of California gold in the 1850's! The Price of Love by Amanda Barratt The Best Man in Brookside by Angela Bell Civilizing Clementine by Dianne Christner The Marriage Broker and the Mortician by Anne Greene The Lye Water Bride by Linda Farmer Harris A Sketch of Gold by Cynthia Hickey Love is A Puzzle by Pam Hillman The Golden Cross by Jennifer Rogers Spinola Gold Haven Heiress by Jamie Jo Wright From all the corners of the world and various walks of life, many people came out of desperation, and others for an adventure. Some went home again with their newfound wealth, hoping to change their family's status, like in the story by Angela Bell. Still more decided to stay and continue working among the down-and-out miners, and those who had sunk low, like in Anne Greene's, Dianne Christner's and Jamie Jo Wright's tales. Others came to work, report what they saw and help settle the newest state in the Union, like in Amanda Barratt's, Linda Farmer Harris', and Pam Hillman's stories. Many were driven by dire circumstances to leave their homes behind, as in Cynthia Hickey's, and Jennifer Spinola's tales, facing danger and prejudice in hopes of a better life. I enjoyed every one of these novellas--they were all good! Particularly liked Civilizing Clementine by Dianne Christner, that had fun characters attempting a young woman's makeover, in the vein of My Fair Lady. Also really enjoyed Love is a Puzzle by Pam Hillman, and The Golden Cross by Jamie Jo Wright. Adventure, history, and romance wrapped together with threads of faith make this an enjoyable collection. Recommend! 4.5 stars (Book provided by NetGalley and Barbour Publishing in exchange for my honest review.)