Publication Date: March 8, 2013
All that Glitters by Laura Oliva, Ava Faraday returns to Nome, Alaska after a long absence. She is looking for a missing part of herself and hesitant about reconnecting with a father who turned his back on her and sent her away as a young child when her mother died. Ethan Calhoun is a cowboy from Galveston, Texas who came to Nome to look for gold and run away from his past. When the two meet there’s an instant attraction. Can a woman, who is afraid to trust, and a man running from who he thinks he might be, get past the dark forces looking to harm them and their own reservations to take a shot at happiness?
An advanced reader’s copy of this novel was provided to me in exchange for a review.
All That Glitter is a good, solid, romance novel with a twist. Ethan is tough, handsome and troubled. Ava is beautiful, unsure and looking for something intangible. On paper, they work, but of course, stir in a baddie who wants the things that some newbie cowhand has the audacity to claim. Ethan gets everything. The pretty new girl in town, luck in the search for gold all fall into Ethan’s lap. Worse, he gets admiration from the baddie’s father. As with the best baddies, I felt sorry for the one in this novel.
There were elements of the novel that could have been more developed. The author gave Ethan a pretty solid backstory but left Ava a mystery. The reader doesn’t get a sense of her past after she went to live with her grandmother in Seattle when her mom died. We know that she left her grandmother’s home early and became a musician somewhere along the line. A few more lines in her discussion with Ethan could have fleshed her out a bit more. I also wondered, at the start, if Ava had dived before. Her purpose in coming to Nome was to act as a diver for her father’s boat and the description in the first scenes underwater was actually a very good description of an inexperienced diver. I am not an experienced diver, but I do know that diving in water that is near freezing takes skill and training. As an aside, A&E has recently commissioned a show about gold dredging in the Bering Sea that I wasn’t interested in seeing until I read this novel.
In all other aspects, Oliva seems to have gone to a great deal of research for this novel. The setting is extremely well described. A reader gets an idea of the cold, harsh beauty of the region and the isolation and difficulty of the winters. Ava’s native grandmother is a character who lets the reader know that life for the Alaskan isn’t easy. To get tea she must trade with people in the much larger Anchorage. Inupiaq words are peppered throughout the text (there’s a glossary at the end). The characters attend a native whale hunting festival that was very detailed. Not only is Ava getting to know herself in the storyline but she’s embracing the part of her that is Native and that she left behind so long before.
Oliva chooses perfect moments to inject the danger element back into the storyline. “Don’t get comfortable”, she seems to warn us. She even takes that step allowing the baddie to take a life — uncommon in the genre.
Final notes: I want Ethan’s cabin. It sounds like a truly wonderful place to settle in and read. Not that Ethan isn’t a wonderfully drawn and attractive character, but if he has to be there, he can cook. When Ava has an accident and Ethan takes her back to his apartment, she’s wearing a red bra and a white t-shirt. Really? Overall All That Glitter was well plotted, well written and a good get-away fast-read for fans of the romance genre. I have read a lot of romance in my lifetime and All That Glitter by Laura Olivo could hold its own with the best of them.
Read an excerpt and buy All that Glitters by Laura Oliva on