4 out of 4 stars
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A Woman's Prerogative is a romantic adventure by Steven C. Brandt that follows the relationship of wealthy Greta Sadler, the only daughter of the president of the prestigious Sadler Corporation, and Alex Mackenzie, a reputable geologist and professor at the University of Nevada-Reno. As Greta and Alex set out to prove themselves professionally, their paths become increasingly intertwined, yet they are pulled in different directions. Set in Nevada, the story has historical roots to the 1840s-1860s gold rushes. As the couple faces family secrets, ambition, betrayal, blackmail, and the hunt for a lost gold mine, will their relationship be strengthened or pulled apart?
The book begins with a prologue that details the family histories of Greta Sadler and Alex Mackenzie; information that will be pertinent as the story develops. It is divided into nine sections which alternate between the professional life and drama unfolding for Greta at the family-owned Sadler Corporation, Alex's research and adventures related to the Lost Pants Mine, and their lives together as a couple. Despite Reinhold Sadler's misgivings about Alex's relationship with his daughter, he reluctantly agrees to sell him the land he requested, even when Alex is unwilling to walk away from Greta as part of the deal. After his younger brother Quid--whose life has been troubled since he left the Navy--arrives on the scene, he introduces Alex to Frank, an experienced gold prospector who convinces him to help locate the Lost Pants Mine. Since the three men are limited financially, Alex comes up with a creative way to finance the property deal with Reinhold. Thus begins their gold mining adventure. Meanwhile, as Greta adjusts to her new role as the first female president of the corporation, she is initially challenged by revelations of the company's impending bankruptcy, a lack of support from family shareholders, and Nevada's "good ol' boy" network that undervalues women. An earthquake, paternity suit, kidnapping, and mutiny heighten the suspense and will keep the reader guessing until the very end.
Brandt's portrayal of the gold mining adventure was particularly engaging. As one who is not usually drawn to the typical hunting for treasure sagas, I was pleasantly surprised by how captivating this portion of the story was. He did an excellent job of propelling the story through Alex's academic research coupled with Frank's expertise as a seasoned prospector. However, I noted one inconsistency related to the historical background of the Sadler family established in the prologue and first chapter of the book. The prologue names the first Reinhold as the ninth governor and his namesake as his great-great-grandson. However, in the first chapter, the current Reinhold Sadler is described as the great-grandson of the eleventh governor. I reread both portions to be sure I understood correctly. While this didn't detract from my overall enjoyment of the book, it bears noting.
Regarding character development, I found Alex and the two supporting male characters, Quid and Frank to be well-developed and relatable. As I read, I could easily conjure images of Alex as a handsome academic and romantic; Frank, the wise old prospector with a big heart, and Quid, the reckless, immature younger brother. However, try as I might, I was unable to connect with Greta. While I appreciated Brandt's focus on portraying her as a knowledgeable, assertive businesswoman with political ambitions, her character lacked depth and warmth. Despite their romantic involvement, her interactions with Alex often came across as though he was one of her employees. Additionally, as I read the chapters related to Greta's business dealings, I often felt as if I were being told rather than shown the story.
Despite the weaker characterization of Greta, I appreciated the book's realistic conclusion, which was satisfying but also hinted at the possibility of a sequel. Additionally, it appears to be professionally edited, as I only noted several errors. In consideration of the related research and gold mining adventure, I'm pleased to rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. I recommend it to readers who enjoy romantic adventures with historical roots. It will also appeal to those who are interested in gold mining.
A Woman's Prerogative
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