That was disappointing. :( This is a book that I had marked for a long time to buy because I generally enjoy the author and I had been wanting to discover steampunk. Unfortunately, it had been pulled from the original publisher and was in the process of being added to and re-issued by the author. "(Publisher's Note: This book was previously published by a different press; it has since been edited extensively and expanded by over 10,000 words.)"
Okay, I could be patient; it's not like I don't have a kajillion books in my TBR pile. Sadly, the book was not worth the wait.
The main characters, Robert and John, are flat. I have no further understanding today of their wants, needs, motivations, raisons d'etre or anything than I had reading page one. John is a scientist and his life's work rests in inventing/creating/discovering... something that I think is similar radio and TV. He's in competition with Tesla and Edison and this is what drives him to the gold fields of the Yukon.
Robert is a tanner/farmer's son. One of - I originally thought 4 but maybe it was only 3 - brothers who go north because.... I dunno, they want gold. One of the brothers dies and the other leaves after Robert loses all the group's money gambling and so Robert becomes the only male prostitute in the brothel in Seattle. That's where he meets John. They have The Good Sex and then John is hiring Robert to accompany him to the gold fields. I think Robert just doesn't want to go back to the family farm/tanning business so he needs gold. I THINK that's his motivation, I'm not sure. John, he's looking for platinum for his inventions and he's being chased by a bunch of bad guys working for someone named Sidney.
The author has done research on the Gold Rush, the Klondike and the Chilkoot Pass and the steampunk elements (one of the main reasons I wanted to read the book) were an integral part of the story and well thought out. The writing remains easy and enjoyable to read but the most important thing to me, the characters and their growth, well... it was a major letdown. The were rather cardboard and really, I saw no compelling reason that they should be wanting to get together in the face of all odds other than that they had The Good Sex. A few passing references as to how they talked a lot on their journey doesn't cut it for me.
So all in all, rather disappointing. There's a second book in this 'Metals' universe coming in October, and while the blurb sounds good, the book clocks in at about 10,000 words less than Noble Metals so I'm tempted to think that the things that bugged me in this book will be even more apparent in the next. So while Precious Metals might be on my radar, I don't think it will be an autobuy.