Apr 26 2006
Dear Ms Lyon,
After seeing the cover of your second novel, I have to wonder who you pissed off. Wow, that cover is ghastly, complete with huge man titties. Which is a shame since the book isn’t bad. Set against the historical backdrop of the Cheyenne Indian’s flight from their squalid reservation in Oklahoma territory, it’s darn good but it does have some flaws.
I would have to advise anyone who chooses to read your book to keep reading past the first chapter. For a brief moment, I was afraid I was about to be stuck with one of these heroines who loudly yells that she can take care of herself even as she pitches over a cliff. Caroline does some stupid things in chapter one and despite being told that she can handle herself as well as any Indian brave, Zach has to come to her rescue. Thankfully, by chapter two we’re beginning to see a heroine who matches your description of her and from then on, Caroline can stand on her own. Zach also begins as a bit of a cliche but in his case it’s the man wronged in love by a cold, selfish, beautiful bitch of a first wife. At first he wonders if Caroline will be the same but, again thankfully, he gets over those thoughts in a hurry.
You’ve done a good job of balancing the viewpoints of all sides. While at first it may seem as if all the whites are rabid Indian haters and the Cheyenne are all peaceful, stoic Noble Indians, later in the book we learn that the Cheyenne had many supporters back East (where people could afford to look at them in this light) while those in the West who were in more immediate danger from them, tended to shoot first and consider the Indian’s problems second. As well, there are indications that many of the Cheyenne look at the white characters with suspicion. The few characters you seem to falter on are the
Indian villains who really are over the top evil.
I think you do a good job depicting Caroline’s horrible captivity. Without going into too many gory details, we are given a clear picture of what happened to her and can see how strong a person Caroline is to have withstood it. (Reader FYI, we never actually see any of Caroline’s captivity nor does she ever recount it in detail.) One of the really nice things about the book is the time you take in showing Caroline’s emotional recovery and not forcing a quick relationship between her and Zach. As well, Zach is a thoughtful man who quickly realizes that Caroline is an amazing woman and without turning into a Prairie Dr. Phil or gushing Alan Alda, he knows he has to tread warily if he wants to win her heart.
OK, so where does the book lose points? Well, it tends to bog down when the young half-breed son of George A Custer enters the picture. I’m not a great fan of children in romance novels and while Swallow doesn’t get too cloying, his scenes do take away from the main romance story and tend to dilute the intensity of Zach’s search for his son. As I said earlier, the Indian villain is totally over the top with no explanation given. I suppose the forced disruption of the traditional Cheyenne way of life might account for it but we never see any balancing of this man’s character.
And one final note that probably wouldn’t bother most readers, and which doesn’t affect the romance story, is about the Kiowa chief, White Bear, who captures Caroline in the book. I’m not sure if you just decided to hell with the known facts about the man, if you saw a list of famous Kiowa chiefs and picked White Bear’s name to use without looking up anything about him, or if you just made up a name and happened to match a real historic person but there is no way the real man could have done what he’s supposed to do in this book. I’m not saying he didn’t do some horrible things to whites who fell into his hands, because he did, but from what I can tell, Caroline’s captivity is supposed to take place during a period when the real White Bear was imprisoned by the US government in Texas. You never mention this in your author’s note at the end of the book and it made me question all your other facts.
To wrap things up, I’m not sorry I read this book or bought it new. Despite it’s flaws, I’d give it a B grade and I will definitely look into your next book.