So Many Books, So Little Time: ‘White Sands Gold,’ by Mike Torreano

Violetta Armour

If you are a fan of Western fiction, you will like White Sands Gold, reminiscent of Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour novels. If you are new to Western fiction, this might be a good place to start with a story that has mystery, romance, and many twists that kept me turning the pages. And as one reader review on Amazon said, “I was born and raised in the West and I can tell you that the attention to detail, although fiction, was as real as it gets.” I, too, felt the author’s descriptions of the landscape, terrain, and life on a ranch made the scenes come alive.

The setting is New Mexico territory, 1890, where folklore has it that thousands of gold bars are cached below Victorio Peak, which sits north of Las Cruces. Inspired by this legend, author Torreano builds on it. Adding to the intrigue, he has introduced another incentive for the treasure seekers—a fictional relic that appointed guardians have protected through the years.

It would be so easy to have stereotype characters in this tale of the Old West, but the main characters are three dimensional with internal struggles and changes occurring in their lives as the story unfolds.

Lottie Durham is a self-sufficient and capable 20-year-old living with her twin brother Yancy on their isolated ranch, miles from any town. After their parents passed, Lottie is the most responsible of the two, eking out a living for them with her baking and occasional quilting. When Yancy disappears for four days in his constant and elusive search of the gold (the longest he has ever been gone), Lottie sets out to find him. After a day of searching on her own with no results, she appeals to a marshal for assistance. He assigns a new deputy to accompany her, an easy-going lawman called simply O. It’s fun to watch Lottie and O’s relationship develop from one of skepticism to friendship and then some, often in a humorous vein with witty dialogue.

My favorite character is Ma who, without ever leaving her house, has a handle on all that is going on. She appoints young Twill to be the leader of the Guardians who have sworn a vow to protect the centuries-old religious relic. Although Twill and Ma are not related, they have a special relationship, and in their conversations, she imparts the wisdom of her years.

And where would a good Western be without the bad guys? Enter Bart Richards, owner of the biggest ranch around Las Cruces and leader of a band of determined killers. Will their looming raid be the end of the guardians, the gold, and the relic? Find out for yourself in this entertaining and great escapism read, which has already received three literary awards.

Author Mike Torreano has a military background and is a student of history of the American West. He’s a member of the Pikes Peak Writers, Western Writers of America, and several other Western organizations. He lives in Colorado Springs, Colo. This book, as well as his others, are available on

Reviewer Violetta Armour is the author of five novels, including her latest mystery, A Pickleball Poison, available on Violetta will be sharing her journey to publication at an Adventures in Learning session on Feb. 15.