If you are looking for a jewel of a book, I am sorry to tell you this one has been shipwrecked. (Please forgive my bad puns and bluntness) Hunter's Prize by Marcia Gruver was just not as great as I was expecting. It's a good book, yes, but not great.
Addie goes to Texas on a whim looking for a job, her mother accompanying her. Her mother has a habit of quickly judging people's character and talking to them. As Addie and her mother get off the train and look for something to eat, they run into Theo and Pearson, two treasure hunters coming to Texas to look for gold on a legendary sunken ship. Addie and her mom continue on their way to where Addie is looking for a position as a governess.
Ceddy's parents were missionaries in South Africa before they died and he was sent off to live with his Aunt Priscilla. He has a beautiful collection of rocks and does not say anything. He hates milk and follows his own strict schedule. To sum it all up, he has pretty odd behavior. And Addie applied to be his governess. I think he's around five or six. As he was leaving Africa, the guides there saw he had an odd rock and wanted to get their hands on it. They follow Ceddy's path to America.
Pearson and Theo are treasure hunters looking for gold on a sunken shipwreck in Texas. Or, to be more exact, he's looking for the ship itself; almost no one knows where it is. He ends up hiring the guides from Africa that were chasing Ceddy, but does not know who they are or what they are up to. He ends up renting a cottage from Ceddy's aunt and lives in close quarters with Addie. Thanks to a few meddling aunts and moms, Pearson gets permission to court Addie.
Thing is, Ceddy seems to react badly whenever Pearson is around and Addie later finds bruises and marks on Ceddy. Aunt Priscilla, the maid, and the preacher suspect Pearson. Addie does not know what to do.
And then one day, Pearson goes off with Theo and Ceddy disappears.
Thank you so much to Net Galley and Barbour publishers for letting me review this book.
I think one of the reasons that I didn't like this book so much is because it was really slow and I read a book before it (Head in the Clouds by Karen Witemeyer) about a governess named Addie that was much better than this one and made Hunter's Prize seem like a bad attempt at copy-catting. I would highly recommend Head in the Clouds, though!