Synopsis: Years ago, Amy Masters escaped the fury of the Texas plains for a new life as a teacher in the golden hills of Oregon, where she has found contentment – if not happiness. Then, out of the shadows, comes Swift Antelope, the Comanche warrior to whom she once pledged her heart when she was no more than a girl.
Claiming that he has given up his violent ways as a gunslinger, Swift has arrived to take the woman he feels is rightfully his – the woman who once swore to honor a sacred and unbreakable pact. But Amy's brutal past has made it impossible for her to trust any man – even if it's the bold warrior who has haunted her dreams, the only man she ever loved, the Comanche heart she can't live without.
First line: Like a forlorn soul, the wind whistled and moaned as it funneled around Swift Antelope, whipping his hair across his face so that he saw the lonely grave through a shifting veil of black.
Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, published by Signet, an imprint of New American Library, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 2009; 419 pages; borrowed from the library.
My thoughts: As much as I loved COMANCHE MOON practically from the first page, this sequel took a little longer to draw me in and captivate me. Nearly a month later, I still vividly remember the first book, and Hunter and Loretta still resonate with me, so this second book had a lot to live up to.
Swift Antelope spent many years fighting in the war between the white men and his People, while Amy waited at home with her mother and stepfather for him to come for her. At 19, she left Texas and traveled to Oregon, to settle in Wolf's Landing with Loretta, Hunter, and their two children. Here, she has her own home, and a job she loves as a schoolteacher. When she's not at school or with her family, she is safely inside her little house, with the bolts drawn. She rarely socializes, and politely spurns the attention of any man who shows an interest in her. And she still has nightmares about the two weeks with the comancheros who kidnapped her when she was twelve.
After the fighting ended, Swift went to the farm for Amy, only to be told by her stepfather that she had died. Swift spent the next three years riding with Mexican bandits, going by the surname of Lopez, and earning a reputation as a notorious gunslinger. Weary of this life, he travels to Oregon to reconnect with Hunter and try to find a peaceful life, to the shocking realization that Amy is still alive, and is terrified of him and wants nothing to do with him. But they were betrothed under Comanche custom, and he is determined to hold her to that promise.
There is not nearly as much violence and heartbreak in this book as in the first one. Swift has to find a way past Amy's mental barriers, and that is in essence what the story. There were times when I did not agree with his methods and mentally smacked him on the arm and told him to leave her be, and then his reasoning would be revealed and I would have to apologize for doubting him and say carry on.
The angst is sky high as the emotional battle lines are drawn and crossed and erased and drawn again. There is a hilarious scene with Amy and Swift trying to catch a chicken, Loretta finally intervening and showing them how it's done, and then none of them having the heart to wring it’s neck. After which Amy asks Swift:
“I – do you – if you were a fellow, what would you like? Chicken or ham?”
Swift arched an eyebrow. “If I were a fellow?”
She blushed. “Well, of course, you're a fellow, Swift. I meant a fellow eating dinner at a social. Would you want chicken or ham?”
“Either one, I guess. Unless, of course, I had to kill the chicken. Then I'd lean real heavy toward ham.” (pg 191)
And while I'm quoting passages, another I liked:
“If you get the boot, I'll bring you more bread and butter than you can eat. You'll get fat eating it all. And I won't tell you what to do and when to do it, I promise. Now, sit down. I didn't buy your basket to fight. Do you like my shirt?”
She studied him for a moment, unhappily aware that he vowed not to order her around, then commanded her to sit, all in the same breath. (pg 200)
While COMANCHE HEART isn't as exciting as COMANCHE MOON, once I got pulled in there were some edge of my seat turning the pages can't put it down nights where I stayed up past my bedtime to read. And that's always the mark of a good book.