Darrow Gardiner has served a grueling six years in Sing-Sing for counterfeiting and he has no intention of serving the entire sentence. When he discovers that his old partner is back in the counterfeiting business, Darrow contacts the Treasury Department. He’ll pretend to help them track down his partner in exchange for a commuted sentence. It’s a plan that might have worked, if not for Emlyn Strickland.
Emlyn is the best counterfeit expert the Treasury Department has, but as a new Secret Service agent he has a lot to learn. Not the least of which will be how to handle Darrow Gardiner. Though he acknowledged Darrow’s impressive skill, that didn’t stop him testifying at the man’s trial six years ago. Now circumstance has thrown them together again and despite his greenhorn status as an agent, Emlyn isn’t foolish enough to place his full trust in a convicted felon, even though he wants to.
Though Darrow intends to betray Strickland and pursue his own interests, he finds himself drawn to the quiet, capable agent who treats him with the humanity denied him prison. They discover a shared purpose and a chance for redemption as they travel west. And if they manage to stay alive, they might just find something more important than gold or silver.
I’m a huge of fan of Tamara Allen and was thrilled to see she had released The Road to Silver Plume. And I was equally thrilled to see that not one, but two of her books were being reviewed for our Friends & Enemies to Lovers Week. I find her to be an amazing author whose books grab reader’s attention from page one and never let go. The Road to Silver Plume is another fantastic addition to her work.
Well written and evenly paced, The Road to Silver Plume is, when rendered to its simplest form, the story of one man’s road to redemption and another man’s attempt to prove himself capable of a difficult job. But the book is so much more than that. It’s a romance, a western, and a small treatise on the use of currency and counterfeiting in the United States. And Allen weaves all of this complexity together in a fluid story that rarely lags or stumbles. Darrow and Emlyn are captivating characters, each fully dimensional and distinct in their personalities. Their romance is quiet and even and feels like the natural evolution of two men who are hurled together under difficult circumstances, neither of them as tough as they pretend to be. Emlyn is rigid in his duty, but recognizes Darrow’s skill as an artist and believes him capable of finding a better path. No one has treated Darrow like an equal for a long time and, despite his desire for freedom, he can’t help his need to protect Strickland and see him safely returned to New York. In this environment of mutual respect, wary trust and genuine attraction, their romance feels believable and realistic.
The Road to Silver Plume is an excellent historical adventure that does a great job of blending romance and action. It has a strong sense of time and place without becoming so burdened with historical fact as to become laborious. The characters are engaging and it’s easy to relate to them on multiple levels. The romance isn’t at the foreground of the story, rather it is woven almost seamlessly into the wider plot and neither overwhelms or underwhelms. If you love a good old fashioned adventure story with great protagonists, then consider the Road to Silver Plume. And once you’ve read it, go check out Tamara Allen’s other works. You won’t be disappointed.