Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Books We Love Publishing
Date of Publication: August 9, 2014
Number of pages: 374
Word Count: 95,110
Cover Artist: Michelle Lee
When Ethan Caine pulled the unconscious woman from the half-frozen creek, he had no idea that his world was about to explode. Dressed in quilled doeskin of Iroquois design, she stirred up dark secrets from his past. At the same time, she was everything he desired. But she was more Indian than white, and on the run for murder. He needed to know the truth. He needed to find it within himself to trust her.
Banished by the Seneca Indians who had adopted and raised her, ostracized by the whites in the settlement, Zara Grey wanted only to be accepted. “Ethancaine” treated her with kindness and concern. It was easy to trust him. But her Indian ways disturbed him, and her heart she would always be Seneca.
The buzzing of voices had grown steadily into a boisterous clamor of laughter and friendly banter punctuated by the banging of tankards and table thumping. Only gradually did the din penetrate Ethan's thoughts, compelling him to tear his attention from the road and the image that had branded itself onto his thoughts.
When he turned once again and the room came harshly into focus, he saw that the little gathering by the hearth had been transformed into a minor celebration. Those who had been seated now stood, hoisting their mugs amid toasts and playful teasing.
Slouched against the hearthstones, young Jabez Grey looked pale and confused, his vacant smile giving off an appearance of mild enjoyment. His father had taken a place at the table between the McLaren brothers and swilled ale from two tankards at once, while the others laughed and urged him on. When he had finished, Rufus held the tankards triumphantly over his head, and, staggering slightly, his chin and shirt front glistening with spill, he bellowed for Engles to bring ale for all. Even Jabez was provided with a portion, as the next round of toasts and good wishes resounded from all sides of the table.
“To Jabez, and good fortune!”
“To the bride and groom!”
“Here's to Rufus's new mansion!” Levi Sparks playfully slapped Grey on the back, and they all laughed and drank, conversing loudly among themselves.
“To his coach and four!” another man teased.
‘To his servants! You'll be having servants then, won't you, Rufus?”
One of the men clapped Jabez on the shoulder. “So when's the joyous event, Jabez?” The boy smiled absently and shrugged.
Rufus Grey hoisted his mug. “To the old patroon! To Henry Van Gelder—may he rest in peace—for bequeathing his bounty. To my niece for making this possible. To General Sullivan for finding her when we'd given up hope, and for returning her safe and sound to her loving family. To General Washington for sending Sullivan on his glorious mission to deliver us from the heathen's hatchet. Here's to Zara Grey, gentlemen…my new daughter! My Jabez’s wife!”
Ethan's stomach squeezed into a knot. The woman was promised. To Jabez! He imagined that callow boy sharing her bed, touching her, feeling that silken hair upon his face. The image tore through him like a knife.
You've been living alone far too long, he thought, and he smiled in spite of himself. He swung his legs out from under the table.
“Caine! Ethan Caine!”
Rufus Grey's voice stopped him before he reached the door. He turned, even though his better judgment advised him to continue on. The men at the table fell silent, watching. The entire room pulsed with a strained silence.
“Ain't you going to join us, Caine? Offer your good wishes to my Jabez?” Grey smiled, but his voice held an edge, cold and sharp as an icicle.
Ethan considered Grey's words, and nodded with forced politeness. “I thank you for the invitation, but I've already stayed too long.” He called to Engles, “You'll deliver my goods, won't you, Samuel?” The man nodded grimly.
“Not jealous, are you?” Grey baited him, his voice tinged with a taunting inflection. “Or, can it be, gentlemen, that Mr. Caine is afraid to drink with us?”
Summoning his self-control, Ethan slowly turned back to the gathering. “Have I reason to be afraid?”
“Rumor has it that you're a coward.”
Ethan bristled. It took all his concentration to keep his hands from balling into fists at his sides. “A man of integrity should know better than to believe everything he hears.”
Rufus snorted. “Rumor has it you ain't got no integrity!”
A few of the men laughed uneasily.
Ethan forced a smile. “As I said, I do not subscribe to rumor.”
Grey stiffened, drawing himself up to his full height. “You calling me a liar, Caine?” With his broad shoulders, thick arms, and barrel chest, he presented a daunting sight.
“I'm saying you're misinformed.” Ethan fixed his gaze on Rufus's eyes. Rufus returned the look with an air of smug satisfaction.
The silence rippled with a palpable tension as Grey stepped out slowly from behind the table and approached Ethan with a swaggering gait. A few of his party began to murmur among themselves in discomfort.
“The Coward of Clarkson’s Mill. That's what they call you, Caine. Said you refused to fight. Said you cried like a baby and ran.”
Grey’s words struck Ethan like a fist to his middle, depriving him of breath. The massacre at Clarkson's Mill had happened fifteen years ago, but its very mention triggered off a lightning train of images in his mind. The smell of burning lodges, the acrid odor of sulphur smoke and blood in the snow, overcame him in a wave of nausea. The night of horror was upon him again, ringing in his ears with the screams of the dying.
Ethan pushed back the images, pushed back the nausea and met Rufus's smirking smile with a hard stare. “Whatever you say, Rufus. Now let me be.” At that, Ethan turned on his heel and made a move toward the door. Grey was upon him in an instant, whirling him back around with a large hand to the shoulder, reversing their positions. Grey now stood between Ethan and the door.
“They said you ran, Caine….”
Ethan straightened himself up so that his eyes were level with Grey’s. His muscles tensed. “I never ran from anyone.”
“…like you're running now!”
“You're drunk, Rufus. Get out of my way.”
“I don't want to fight you. Now, let me pass.”
Hands on his hips, Rufus glanced back over his shoulder at the other men. “He says he don’t want to fight!’
“I have no reason to fight you.”
“No. You're too spineless, Caine. I wouldn't waste my time with you anyway.”
Rufus stepped aside, leaving the path clear to the door. With a mocking gesture, he waved Ethan out with a flourish.
Ethan continued to hold him fast with his gaze. “Don't push me, Grey,” he whispered so the others could not hear. “One of these days you'll go too far.”
“Is that a threat, Caine?” Rufus bellowed with laughter. “You threatening me? I believe this coward's threatening me!”
“I don't make threats,” Ethan said softly. “And I never make promises I can't keep.”
It's not often that a historical romance tempts me to read it. They haven't been the top of my preferred genre list in many years. Once upon a time, I couldn't get enough of them, especially ones dealing with American Indians during the 1700's. I was endlessly fascinated by the many different and varied indian tribes and cultures there were. And while I know that the authors had to have taken some creative license, most were well researched and informative, as well as being entertaining. Just as this one turned out to be.
One of the popular troupes is the white & native american who find love and must find a place that they can both be accepted as couple. Whether it's an indian village or a white town. It's the whole opposites attracting thing. This took that, but put a twist on it. We have the white woman, raised as native american, who falls for a white man. Think Dances with Wolves, but instead of discovering each other in her world, they are in his.
Some of the things that I liked about this story was the realism. Life was hard and that's portrayed in the details. I do think Zara was a little too good to be true. I would have liked to have seen her with a bit more negative to her personality. I know that sounds odd, but this girl went through a lot and is just a bit too accepting of her fate. I guess I wanted her to rail about it some. I know I would have. Overall, this was a good read, especially if you have a thing for the early american historical romance genre. I gave it 3 stars.
Kathy will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
As a child Kathy wanted to be a writer when she grew up. She also wanted to act on the stage. After receiving an MFA in Acting from the Mason Gross School of the Arts and playing the part of starving young artist in New York, she taught theater classes at a small college in the Mid-West before returning home to the East Coast, where over the years, she and her husband raised two kids and an assortment of dogs. During stints in advertising, children’s media publishing, and education reform in the former Soviet Unions, she wrote whenever she could.
Her love of early American history has its roots in family vacations up and down the East Coast visiting old forts and battlefields and places such as Williamsburg, Mystic Sea Port, and Sturbridge Village. During this time, she daydreamed in high school history classes, imagining the everyday people behind all the dates and conflicts and how they lived.
Claiming her best ideas are born of dreams, Kathy has written a number of stories over the years. Her first published novel, Winter Fire, a 1998 Golden Heart finalist in historical romance, was reissued in 2010 by Books We Love, Ltd., which also released Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter, Courting the Devil, and The Partisan’s Wife.
When not writing, she enjoys reading, cooking, photography, playing “ball” with the dogs, and rooting on her favorite sports teams.
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