Silver Dreams by Cynthia Thomason
(Zebra $4.99, PG) ISBN 0-8217-6152-8
1893 was probably not a good year for the 21-year-old daughter of the editor of a major New York City newspaper to push for a job as a reporter. However, Elizabeth Sheridan is relentless and finally her father agrees to let her cover the reopening of a NYC hotel. Even realizing the job is fluff and that she is being patronized, she nonetheless jumps at the opportunity.

On her way home from the glitzy affair, her carriage is intercepted by Max Cassidy, who jumps inside to escape thugs in hot pursuit. Max, an investigative reporter for a competing paper, is covering a story indirectly involving "a Sicilian business man" who controls much of the gaming, prostitution and other crime in the city

Ross Sheridan, Elizabeth's ne'er-do-well brother with a rogue's panache and grace, loses one job after another. On this very night, Ross is in jail for running a bookie operation in a house where ladies of easy virtue reside.

Ross, out on bond, meets one of New York's less fortunate panhandlers who has a rock allegedly brimming with silver ore, and the deed to a mine in Colorado. Failing to persuade Elizabeth to bankroll his expedition west with her trust fund, Ross pays a visit to the same "Sicilian boss." Through some twisted logic I never understood, "the boss" gives Ross three thousand dollars, notwithstanding the fact that Ross was acting as a bookie to work off a large gambling debt. The boss directs some of his 'boys' to follow his money.

The competing paper finds out about the deal and assigns Max to follow Ross west hoping for a story. Elizabeth, loving her brother and yearning to write about true adventure, reads his farewell note, runs to the bank, gets her money and hits the station in time to be on the same train. This fortuitously orchestrated gathering of characters thus set out to find a silver mine.

Reading this book is a true spectator sport. One observes the characters from afar, rather than becoming involved with them, which happens when characters are poorly developed and one-dimensional. The love story between Max and Elizabeth is rather unexciting.

The characters' often contrived escapades continually challenge credibility. The author has a light and airy touch but without believable characters, plausible conflict or a convincing love story, I suggest that you think twice about Silver Dreams.

--Thea Davis

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