Before I begin I was sent this book from Victoria Chatham to give my honest review. The copy that I was sent includes all three books of this series; Cold Gold, On Borrowed Time, and Shell Shocked. I apologize for taking so long to get it done as my life has been crazy but better late than never.
Title: The Buxton Chronicles
Author: Victoria Chatham
Publisher: Books We Love Publishing
Publication Date: 2015
1907: A gold mining town in northern California is hardly the place for a member of the English aristocracy. When Lady Serena Buxton arrives in Cold Creek, she is shocked to find her husband, Lord Buxton, is missing. Everyone in town treats her as if she is already a widow. With no husband and no money, what is a lady to do?
On Borrowed Time
1913: Lord and Lady Buxton's orderly lives are upset by Pinkerton Agent Stuart Montgomery's unexpected arrival at their estate in England. Montgomery is investigating suspicious deaths at an American aviation company. Will the Buxtons return with him to America and help him close the case? Or is this an excuse for Montgomery to renew a potentially scandalous association with Serena?
1918: Lord Randolph Buxton is fighting at the front during the closing months of World War 1. Lady Serena manages Buxton Hall which has been converted into a military hospital. When Randolph is reported missing in action, Serena is heartbroken but carries on with day-to-day duties while she awaits news of her husband. And then Randolph comes home. She married for love, but she does not know the man who returns to her. Will she be strong enough to hold together everything she most cherishes?
*So that I don't ruin the story I will be very vague in my descriptions of what happens in each book.*
Book 1 begins with Serena arriving in Cold Creek, California, where she is hoping to locate her husband. When she arrives there she goes to the hotel that her husband had been staying at and comes to find out that her husband went missing the week before she arrived in town. Slowly as the book progresses she becomes more acquainted with the town and starts to question what really happened to her husband. She tries to go to the bank to get some funds that her husband has there but she is blocked by the bank manager as he says that she could be lying that she is Lord Buxton's wife in order to gain access to his funds, he even says that Lord Buxton has never mentioned that he even had a wife. She meets many people during this time but two of them really stood out to me and those were Mr. Douglas King, who was the manager at the mine that her husband invested in, as well as Deputy George Stiles. They both seemed very shifty to me. The story progresses rather quickly after Serena gets to the town.
Serena chose to ignore his comment about class and smiled sweetly at him. "Oh, it's not your grammer I find offensive." pg 59; conversation between Serena and Douglas King.
In the end, Serena's husband Randolph returns to Cold Creek (you will have to read the book to find out what actually happens to him and how he gets back to Cold Creek.), and Mr. King end up dead. After the excitement of all that I found that Book one ended rather sweetly.
I love that Serena was not a sit-and-wait-to-be-rescued type of woman and she really braved everything to come and find her husband in America. I found that Serena's character really evolved over the course of this book, she really proved that she was as useful as any man in my opinion anyway. While you don't get to see a lot of Randolph you can really tell that he does really care about his wife and when he is told that she is in Cold Creek he was very surprised and also worried for her safety, he rushes back to town when he learns that she is in Cold Creek. When I finished Cold Gold I really looked forward to reading the next novel in the Buxton Chronicles.
Book 2 starts in 1913 at the Buxton Estate in England. Agent Montgomery, who also appears in book 1 arrives at the Buxton Estate to ask for help with an issue back in America. The Buxtons end up following him back to America to help him, leaving their 2 children at home with the nanny. The plan is for the Buxton's to pretend to be on a second honeymoon and just so happen to run into an old friend that is working in aviation. Working with Montgomery they try to help him with investigating some suspicious deaths within the American Aviation Company. While there one of the partners really tries to convince Randolph that investing in aviation is an amazing idea however Randolph is not convinced at all. George Stiles also shows up in this story and by the end of it he is also dead. Randolph almost dies again in a fire but Montgomery at the last minute is able to save him and get him to the hospital. Montgomery at this time makes a rather unexpected confession to Serena and she is really not very happy with him at all and doesn't want to have anything to do with him anymore. Randolph eventually talks to Serena and she says her goodbye to Montgomery while rather stilted is still an ending to that chapter, after all, Mongomery also made the confession to Randolph after pulling him from the fire.
They sat in comfortable silence. Around them passengers gathered at tables, waiters bustled around serving them while below decks the ship's great engines roared into life. They were going home. pg 196
I really loved the growth of the Buxtons in this story as well, if it can actually be called growth. Serena proves over and over again that she is as useful as any man while helping investigate the murders. This book was well thought out and I loved the twists and mystery-air of it.
Book 3 starts in 1918, Randolph is at the front during World War 1. Serena is at Buxton Hall, which has been converted into a military hospital, and she is caring for the sick and wounded while still also running the Buxton Estate. Serena receives word that Randolph has gone missing in action and while she worries immensely she also knows that she has to keep going and just wait for more news. Serena goes to the country for Easter to visit her children, she does not tell them that Randolph is missing but she does let her cousin know as she is taking care of the children for Serena. When Serena returns to Buxton Hall a new patient arrives but is shell-shocked (amnesia most likely is the term we would use now). Not so surprisingly the new patient is indeed Randolph. The first change that comes is that the Buxton family dog seeks Randolph out even though he has no idea where he is and he recognizes that he thinks that he had a dog just like her at one point. Serena and the medical team that is running the military hospital nurse him back to health, and he regains his memory by the end of the book.
"Listen." Her grip tightened, her fingers digging into the fabric of his sleeve. From across the mist-veiled fields they heard the solemn tolling of a bell its steady, true tone echoing amongst the trees and off the walls of the house. Behind them the door opened and Sally, Dr. Sands and several nurses poured out onto the terrace behind them, "Is that what I think it is?" Dr. Sands asked Randolph. "Yes, I believe it is." Above them windows were thrown open and heads peered out, all listening to the rich, round peal of each toll as it intensified in clairty. "The bells haven't run since the war started. Does this mean it's over?" asked one of the nurses. Randolph took a deep breath and gripped Serena's hand. "Oh, God, I hope so." pg 290-291; ending
I absolutely loved this series. I think it is very well thought out, has a wonderful plot that keeps you guessing about what is going to happen next, as well as keeping that mystery-air that makes Victoria Chatham's book so easily digestible. I am very glad that I had all three of these books because as soon as I finished the first one I needed to know what happened next to this couple. Well worth a read. I tried really hard not to ruin anything about these books, I found because they were shorter it is harder to give a good review without spoiling some things but the stuff that I did spoil is insignificant compared to the whole story. (at least in my opinion)
Check out my other book reviews here.