The Penny Mansions
by Steven Mayfield
Regal House Publishing

"I can see it now. A home in Paradise can be yours for only one penny."

Paradise, Idaho, was another byproduct of the boom and bust atmosphere that typified the gold rush of the mid-1800s. The town’s population soared with the discovery of the valuable mineral. However, as of 1918, the town’s population has dwindled considerably and is on the verge of becoming unincorporated as a town. A group of locals, including brothel proprietor Maude, cantankerous war veteran/prospector Goldstrike, and the beautiful teacher Bountiful Dollarhyde meet to discuss a plan. They plan to advertise affluent available real estate for pennies to lure in potential residents. The plan is to get enough mansions sold to upstanding individuals who can be counted for the next census. However, if Lt. Governor Gerald Dredd has anything to say about it, the town may be destroyed in the process.

This book is a charming piece of historical fiction delving into the life and death struggle of a small town in the early twentieth century. Author Mayfield uses the end of the destructive First World War, along with the scourge of the influenza pandemic, as the background to the drama unfolding in Paradise. The featured cast of characters is an eclectic sort, highlighted by Ms. Bountiful Dollarhyde. In Paradise, she is a beloved citizen who many believe is far better than what the town can offer. However, her mixed race leads to racial animus when she steps outside the town’s limits. Through the character of Bountiful, the author successfully addresses the issue of a person’s worth regardless of their race. Readers will also cheer her courage, as she is resolute in her desire to save the town and thwart the monstrous Lt. Governor Dredd. This is a book that is infused with nostalgia for home and familiarity while also showing how the right changes can prove worthwhile.

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