I was blown away by the emotional intensity of this unorthodox romance between sworn enemies, a Native American warrior, Wolfkeeper and an American homesteader Cassie. I devoured the book in a day as I was so captivated by it!
In Wolfkeeper’s Woman, Cassie, who has recently given birth, finds her home attacked by Indians. Her husband is killed and Cassie finds herself captive of one of the men instrumental in his murder, a powerful and terrifying warrior, Wolfkeeper. Wolfkeeper gifts Cassie’s son to his brother and sister-in-law, who have already lost three pregnancies, which naturally leaves Cassie devastated. Cassie is referred to as The Ghostwoman by the tribe, shunned by many and is not allowed to communicate with her son. There are some truly heartbreaking scenes as Cassie’s son is taken from her and what occurs whenever their paths do cross. Wolfkeeper assumes the role as Cassie’s protector, ensuring that she obeys his command to keep away from her son, whom he tells her is now dead to her, and that she strives to assimilate into the ways of his people.
Cassie has little choice but to cooperate if she is to have any chance of escaping with her son. She despises Wolfkeeper for what he has done to her and her family. However, she is forced to rely upon him for protection, guidance and at times comfort in this strange new world, where she does not even speak the language and is ignorant of its complex customs, which are so different to those of the white man.
Wolfkeeper demands total compliance from Cassie, who finds herself carrying out daily tasks for him and having to permit his touches, which increase in intensity, becoming more and more sexual. Although their relationship is not immediately fully consummated, Wolfkeeper demands dominion over Cassie’s body to bind her to him, in a number of sensual scenes, and she is powerless to resist, knowing that no one will come to her aid. She permits his caresses at first because she is fearful of the consequences of refusal and then because she enjoys them, even while she despises him. Yet how can she permit her body to betray her when he has committed the sins of killing her husband and taking away her child? Can she possibly let him into her heart or even forgive him?
Wolfkeeper at first regards Cassie purely as the enemy and treats her harshly. However, he comes to respect her inner strength. He is pleased when she does begin to assimilate into the life of his people. Cassie begins to penetrate Wolfkeeper’s heart and he decides that he wants to make her his. He is a wise and patient man and knows that he must bide his time if he is to win her. However, the issue of her son is always between them. Will Cassie accept that her son is lost to her forever and embrace Wolfkeeper and the ways of the tribe or will she reject them and escape at the first opportunity? There are many twists to the tale as Cassie and Wolfkeeper both struggle with the feelings that they develop for each other and I was hooked from start to finish!
Cassie is a great heroine, showing great strength of character for one who has suffered so much. She has been given few choices in her life, being very much a victim of circumstance. However, she responds with courage and dignity. I found the growing respect, trust and affection between the couple a beautiful and touching love story, surprising given the circumstances of their relationship.
There are a number of supporting characters in the novel, some of them native American Indians and some of them other white settlers. One of my favourite characters, apart from the main couple was Wolfkeeper’s grandmother. I also liked the character of Becky, the widow of Todd, the friend of Cassie’s husband, who also lost his life in the Indian attack on Cassie’s home. The author weaves her story throughout the main narrative and I found it to be a touching one. I was also fascinated by the customs of the Native Americans and how they differed from those of the white man.
I recommend this novel to readers of western historical romance, especially those who like an emotional and sensual read. It will particularly appeal to those who like to examine forgiveness and acceptance and how individuals from different cultures can come together. The author Lisa Day has a true gift for original storytelling and I have already downloaded her latest novel, Love and Betrayal on the Santa Fe, also set in the American frontier, to read very soon.
Reviewed by Tina Williams