Marisa Jameson lived in Albany, NY during the fall of 1755. The British were at war with the French and their allies over the lands in the colonies. Marisa, though, lived a life of luxury and ease with her step-uncle, John Rathburn, a wealthy financer with whom took her in when she was 4 years old after her parents died. Though he did not show Marisa and affection, she still felt a deep loyalty to him even after hearing plans to destroy a Dutch settlement in PA. She attempts to use this information to get her step-uncle to do her will not realizing that he would not let anything or anyone get in his way as he made his plans.
Black Eagle is a member of the Mohawk tribe which is part of the Iroquois alliance. His village has aliened themselves to the British during this time of war. When Black Eagle arrives at the Rathburn house to deliver a message to the Governor on NY who is staying there, he sees Marisa and falls instantly in love even knowing that it can go no where. When he is offered a job escorting Marisa and her maid to Portsmouth, NH, he agrees so he can be close to her.
Marisa is intrigued by this Indian warrior even before the journey. In a fit of rebellion, she even leaves her going away party to go with him into the woods. She thinks this is a one night dalliance, not knowing that Black Eagle has been hired to be her guide.
Things start heating up before the journey even starts as arguments break out over what is necessary to bring and need for horses. Once on the long journey, things start happening and it’s’ up to Black Eagle as their guide to figure out if all the accidents are truly accidents or if someone is trying to kill Marisa and her maid. Can he figure this out before someone is seriously hurt? And as cultural differences make themselves known, can Marisa and Black Eagle discuss them rationally or will their cultural beliefs pull them apart?
The French and Indian War was an interesting time in US history. The Mohawks were a tribe divided as those that lived in Canada basically sided with the French and those that lived in further south sided with the British. The British were trying to claim land that the French were also claiming. During that time, forts were established and around them new towns grew. There were few roads into the wilderness and few luxuries. Both sides heavily relied on their Indian allies during this war in the wilderness.
I found the characters to be stereotypical of this type of book. Marisa was a spoilt, rich girl that knew she was superior to others and was confident of her place in the world. She screamed at every little thing and was dependent on her maid even as she helped do camp chores. Black Eagle was a mighty warrior within his tribe. He was the fastest runner and good friends with an Englishman. He would face adversity bravely and was able to figure out complex problems with ease. Black Eagle had honor and integrity. Neither had attributes that would make them bad characters but it got old having Marisa scream because of something and Black Eagle coming running to protect her. You would think that living at the edge of civilization, Marisa would have some knowledge and skill at some tasks. Even while in the Mohawk village, she has others who help her with her chores making things easy. For someone who has never worked, I’m sure she had people helping her as she would have had issues with the hard work.
As the two cultures and belief systems collided, I felt that each was simplified and wasn’t given the depth that they deserved. While there was a simple discussion between Marisa and Black Eagle on why the British thought some people were superior to others and why the Mohawk’s believed that each person had the freedom to decide their own fate, it’s conclusion was only to agree to disagree not a true explanation of each belief. Perhaps a greater feel to each would have been better or a personalization of each. In put from Marisa’s maid, Sarah might have given a better perspective of the British point of view. When Marisa and Black Eagle go to the Mohawk village, village life is portrayed as a sort of utopia with no one fighting, everyone helping each other and an instant acceptance of Marisa. While a small part of daily life was explored, such as the long houses, most of Marisa’s adjustment to such a different life was glossed over and ignored.
I did like that Ms Bailey put some historical notes in for the reader to enjoy and learn from after her story. They give the reader some of the information that is lacking in her story. It also lets you know that a least one incident was based on a real event giving a more real feeling to what was happening.
This book reminded me of Cassie Edward’s novels. There is a similar style of writing and storytelling. So, if you enjoy Ms Edward’s books, you will enjoy Ms Bailey’s books. While I did not give this book a high rating, I do feel that there is a place for it.