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Format: Format Kindle
Here is my review, as promised:
Sixteen year old Emma Simms, born and raised on a little farm in a small village in the Tennessee mountains, is young, naïve and innocent, and knows little of the outside world. But there is one thing she knows for sure: Men are cruel, dangerous, and not to be trusted.
When her father died twelve years ago, her mother married their neighbor, Luke Simms, who seemed to be a decent man. But Emma and her mother soon saw Luke's dark side. An abusive alcoholic, he beat both mother and daughter, and he constantly raped Emma's mother, in the hopes that she would provide him with children. After four miscarriages, her mother finally managed to carry a baby full term, only to have both mother and baby die shortly after the birth.
Alone with Luke Simms, Emma fears what will become of her. Will Luke force her to marry Tommy Decker, the lecherous neighbor who has been trying to get under her skirts for years? With her mother no longer alive to protect her, Tommy figures now would be the best time to get what he wants. He attempts to rape Emma, but as a strong willed woman, she manages to protect her virtue and give Tommy the beating of his life. Tommy, angered and vengeful, swears she will live to regret it.
Meanwhile, Luke decides the best way to rid himself of Emma is to sell her to Sam Gates, a man who buys unwilling women and forces them to service men in his saloon in Knoxville. So Luke hands Emma over to Hank Toole, a supplier whose boat travels up and down the river, and who promises to deliver Emma, his most precious cargo, to Sam Gates.
But what no one knows is that Emma has been under the watchful eye of River Joe, known as the White Indian. River Joe, a white man, was taken in by the Cherokee when he was only five years old. His parents were attacked by a band of white marauders- his mother raped and both parents killed. He was found, floating in a river, by the Cherokee.
When traveling south to buy supplies for his Cherokee village, he stumbles across beautiful Emma, mourning the recent loss of her mother. He is instantly drawn to her, convinced that they were brought together by God, the Maker of Breath. They form an attachment, and very soon, Emma becomes his woman and wife, after he makes love to her in Luke's barn. River Joe, worried that Luke or Tommy will do Emma harm, promises to return for Emma in a few days time, after he has purchased his supplies. But by the time he returns, Emma has been sold to Hank Toole, and is on her way to Sam Gates. River Joe manages to rescue Emma, and they return to his people's village, at the top of the mountain.
But their problems are far from over. Sam Gates is anxious to retrieve Emma, whom he considers purchased merchandise, and Tommy Decker is even more anxious to finally have his way with Emma and to put a bullet in River Joe's head. What follows is several agonizing years of Emma and River Joe afraid of their past coming back to haunt them, and with it harm to the Cherokee people. Will they ever be free from their past?
I did enjoy this novel. All of the characters have very strong personalities. And you love to hate the villains: they are cruel, heartless, vile, unfeeling, ruthless men, and the reader is happy when each one meets their demise.
I had two main complaints. First, in some ways River Joe was no better than the other men. Despite Emma's protestations that she wasn't ready to have sex with him, that she was afraid she would become pregnant and die like her mother, River Joe basically told her that her fears where unfounded, and that he needed to do this to make her his woman, and he proceeded to have sex with her anyway, even though she kept asking him to stop. Of course, after it was over, Emma admitted that she enjoyed the act and that she was in love with River Joe. But if River Joe was as nice a guy as he claimed to be, he would have waited until she was ready to have sex with him.
Second, this book was so, so, so long! Over three hundred and fifty pages. The last 20-25% of the book, I was starting to get impatient, and just wanted the author to "wrap the story up already". It was definitely drawn out more than necessary, and I would have enjoyed it a lot more if the story line had been condensed a little bit.
Other than that, this was an enjoyable read. I thought it painted a realistic portrait of what women had to go through years ago, and also how hard life was for the Native Americans. They were treated very cruelly and unjustly, and that is readily seen in this novel.
Again, I enjoyed it. I would recommend it to others.