~ About the Book ~
On a moonless night in 1813, Adela McGirth encounters a set of wolves and the steely eyed warrior who slays them, searing himself on her heart. When he returns, it’s with a brand of a different sort–the flaming arrow that destroys her life.
In the copper-haired captive, Totka Lawe finds the other half of his spirit. He vows he would die ten deaths to protect her, and he would kill any who tried to steal her away. With bluecoat soldiers pursuing him, a jealous cousin pursuing her, and the woman herself pursuing home, that vow stands a serious chance of being called into action.
In the first of this three-part, inspirational story, award-winning author April W Gardner brings to vibrant life an obscure event and the noble people who once dominated the Southeast, but are now forgotten.
The Red Feather is part one of Beneath the Blackberry Moon, a single novel with three, full-length parts. If you don’t care for books with plots that carry over into the next book, heads up! This is an on-going story. If you love sagas that are deep and bold and aren’t afraid to take their time unfolding, this is the one for you. Enjoy!
Genre: Historical Saga
Series: #1 Creek Country Saga
Release date: 19 January 2016
~ Excerpt ~
Above the treetops, a short distance away, rose a single, orderly column of smoke. A White man’s cabin no doubt. So close and they, so exposed. Clamping a scathing remark between his teeth, Totka noted their position in the field. Nearly there. He lanced the looming woods with a sharpened gaze and considered the long, cool drink he would take from that stream. Fifty strides more. Forty-nine, forty-eight, forty—
The mare balked, wrenching Totka’s joints. He spun and pulled against her as she careened her hindquarters out of line, hooves stamping. A flash of movement an arm’s reach to his right caught his peripheral vision. In the same instant, the mare reared, tearing the rope from Totka’s sweaty palm.
Under the weight of her burden, she came down hard on her front hooves, one of them wrenching in to a rut. With a sickening pop, her knee caved. The animal’s scream pierced Totka through and all but swallowed the one coming from behind him. As the horse sank to her knees, the pack lurched violently, its bands snapping, its leaden contents disgorging and spilling over the mare’s neck and head. Through another shriek and smack, her head met the ground.
Totka leapt backward, the iron mudslide nipping at his toes, and collided with the unmistakable hedge of what seemed a woman’s soft, yielding body. The feminine cry of alarm confirmed it. In the two breaths it took him to pivot, seize her about the waist, and fling her aside with him, his mind stuttered at the thought of a woman suddenly there where before had been only grass.
They hit the dirt, he on top, she releasing a soft oomph in his ear.
Hand on her belly, he pushed off her, eager to free her of him, but a glimpse of her sunset hair stopped him short. This was a White woman, and a good fraction of the Red Sticks’ firepower lay exposed at his feet.
Alarm zinged every nerve ending.
She lay flat on her back, arms splayed, mouth an oval of surprise.
Had she seen the weapons before Totka knocked her over? If she had, more than one man in the delegation would demand her life, and he would be the one expected to take it. But nothing said “guilty” like taking a life. Could he render her unconscious? His elbow was primed for a strike that she would not see coming. His muscles bunched but froze—and if she had seen nothing?
Thinking better of it, he cupped her shoulder with a palm and aligned his weight, ready to pin her when she attempted to rise. He would take his chances.
Eyes wide, she took him in.
He welcomed her scrutiny, so long as she kept the scream in her throat and her eyes on him instead of the tangle of muskets that still tumbled and clattered around the thrashing horse.
~ Review ~
I love it when I find a new author who becomes an instant favourite, and I had barely finished the first scene of this story before I began to suspect that would happen here. My suspicion was confirmed long before I finished the book. This story is utterly compelling, the writing is rich and engaging, and I was thoroughly immersed in the setting thanks to the author’s attention to historical detail—in particular, the Muscogees’ beliefs and way of life.
I love stories about characters who face difficult circumstances with strength and dignity, and circumstances don’t come much more difficult than those faced by Adela in this novel. While it isn’t unnecessarily graphic, the novel definitely doesn’t shy away from the harsh reality of the conflict and brutality between White men and the Native Americans, which makes the relationship that grows between Totka and Adela all the more compelling. It is at once inevitable (from the first scene) and yet impossible, needing to bridge the barriers of language, culture, and faith, and I have a feeling it’s going to become even more heart-wrenching in the second book.
The characterisation in this novel was fantastic across the board, but I am particularly enthralled by Totka’s struggle to understand Adela’s faith and the strength of his devotion to her. I cannot get to the next novel in this series quickly enough!
* I purchased my own copy of this novel.
~ Other Books in the Series ~
~ About the Author ~
APRIL W GARDNER writes history with a Christian perspective and a little imagination. She is a copyeditor, military wife, and homeschooling mother of two who lives in Texas. She writes Christian historical romance with a focus on our Southeastern Native Tribes. In no particular order, April dreams of owning a horse, learning a third language, and visiting all the national parks.