I read mostly science fiction and romance, and often a combination of the two.
This book was a close-to five-star read for me, but I never had that character-connection or emotional moment I crave when reading. The strongest points of this book are the characters and the atmosphere. It's set in a pre-railroad Wyoming territory, in a small town connecting several mining outposts. The details were rich without being overwhelming, and I could easily picture the old west town and its populace.
The author was also able to capture the struggles of a deaf person in the old west; the misconceptions made by others and Elijah's own experiences. I loved the way Elijah's character expressed himself and they way he heard, or didn't hear, the world around him. Harlan's character was also strong - an atypical character who you won't necessarily like or hate. He's good at standing on the edge and pulling your thoughts about his character in several directions at the same time. The last main character, Grady, is a sweet cattle-rustler, breaking the law and stealing from others, but you can sympathize with his family reasons for doing so.
There were several points in the book that almost plucked my emotions. I say 'almost', because it never quite happened. I never quite had a heart-stopping moment, a warm-smile moment, or the moment of character connection I seek within a novel. I also feel like the book needed more time introducing Elijah and his character before he jumped into that first scene with Harlan. It all felt too fast. I'd barely gotten to know Elijah before being led into that.
Beyond that, Sweetwater is a great character novel with a good story supporting it and wonderfully written historical atmosphere. This is a recommended read, but be warned - it does include rough sexual encounters right off the bat.
I was given a copy for review and honest feedback.