Sunday, May 24, 2015

Treasures of the North (Yukon Quest #1) by Tracie Peterson

Title: Treasures of the North (Yukon Quest #1)
Author: Tracie Peterson
Published: January 2001
Published By: Bethany House Publishers
Format Read: Kindle for PC
Genre: Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction, Inspirational Fiction
Date Read: May 15 2015
Rating: 3/5

Chicago 1897: 30 year old Governess Karen has been by Grace Hawkins side since she was just a girl of ten, teaching her and supporting her, they were inseparable. Now with her charge being fully grown and set to marry, Karen had planned to head north to Alaska during the gold rush to search for her missing father.  However it is discovered that Grace’s arranged marriage to a Martin Paxton, a business associate of her father’s is based on manipulation and bribery. If she does not marry the man he threatens to reveal a secret from Mr. Hawkins past, ruining their family’s reputation and leaving them penniless. When Paxton becomes abusive towards Grace during their engagement party it is clear that she cannot marry the man regardless of the consequences. So Karen, along with Mrs. Hawkins devise a plan for Grace to escape and run away. With Karen’s Aunt Doris as chaperone they make plans to head north to Alaska, a place they hoped Paxton would never think to look for his runaway fiancé. Meanwhile a captain of a struggling shipping business, Peter Colton takes the advice of an old family friend and gets into the business of carrying supplies and people to Alaska. It is his ship that the three women escape on. Another family on board Colton’s boat include a widower Bill Barringer and his two children. The group form a sort of bond and work together to survive in the untamed wilderness of the north. But is Grace really free of her conniving former fiancé?  

Tracie Peterson’s Treasures of the North (Yukon Quest Books #1) was a dramatic tale from the start. The descriptions of their surroundings including the mountains and the wilderness painted beautiful images in my mind. This was especially true when Karen remembered her mother’s descriptions in her old letters to her daughter. The pace moved along well and I liked how the author didn’t dwell on things that weren’t pertinent to the plotline. I enjoyed learning about life during the Gold Rush and the struggles they dealt with desperate to make a fortune for themselves. It amazed me that people from the south were so naïve, arriving expecting established towns and gold scattered on the ground for their taking. They were also very ignorant to the harsh weather and as a result many people did not survive. I thought that the cover work was beautifully done and more realistic looking for the set time period (the late 1800’s) than most cover from this genre. 

Although the story did keep my attention, there were some points that I found quite misleading. Firstly the title of the series Yukon Quest, gave me the impression that the setting would be just that, in the Yukon. Instead it was set in Alaska, where many prospectors began their ascent into the interior. Secondly, the start of the book suggested that the focus would be mostly on Grace as a primary character. However it seemed as if she took a bit of a secondary position and Karen became more primary in focus. This wasn’t necessary bad as the shifting point of view between the characters made for a faster pace, but the bulk of the novel seemed a bit inconsistent with the beginning. 

My thoughts on the characters varied. The author could have given Grace the personality of a spoiled socialite, but the freedom of her escape made her adjustment to a lower class of living more enjoyable. Karen and her Aunt Doris were strong independent women, living in a time where females were expected to be under the guidance of a man. I cheered along as they stood up for themselves and proved that they would hold their own in the land of the lawless. Unfortunately the characteristics of the male characters left much to be desired. Peter’s comment that “Women were the weaker vessel” pg. 215, made my jaw drop. However for all the arrogance that the men brought to the story, Karen and Grace were quite self-righteous in their faith and couldn’t accept that others might not believe as strongly as they did. 

 The end left many storyline options open for the following book in the series, as it didn’t completely tie up all the loose ends. I am interested to see where the story goes for the second novel and hope that this one will be set in the Yukon. 

I would recommend this book to people who enjoy Christian Historical Fiction, however it should be noted that the plotline does get preachy.

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