Wild as the Indians who eventually hold her captive, Isabelle Renoir is a woman of faith and courage, strong in spirit and ready for adventure. Her wild heart longs to break free of the prim and proper, wife-and-mother path she is expected to take in her frontier town. When Isabelle is given the opportunity to journey to another town, she jumps at the chance, unaware it will lead her down a far different path, one filled with violence, love and gut-wrenching heartache. It just may be more than her tough hunter’s heart can withstand, faith and all.
When the town priest needs someone to retrieve books from the town of Kaskaskia, he knows exactly who to ask. Young and beautiful Isabelle Renoir, who shows up to church in wild red dresses and rivals the boys with her hunting skills, is perfect for the task. Her mother reluctantly agrees to let Isabelle make the trip, hoping it will somehow calm her restless spirit. Accompanied by her brother, Julian, and an Indian Scout named Quiet Fox, Isabelle embarks on the journey, promising to be back in a few weeks. She knows, without anyone saying it, that she is expected to look out for her brother, whose quiet ways are more prone to music and poetry than outdoor adventures.
As the trio travels to Kaskaskia, they are unaware that someone else is heading in the same direction. American spy Samuel Holt is on a mission to scout the area before troops come to free the town from British rule. Born into a wealthy family, Samuel is far more satisfied with his rough and rugged military life than running a plantation. He crosses paths with the Kaskaskia-bound trio and agrees to travel with them, intrigued by Isabelle, so different from any woman he’s ever known.
By morning, Quiet Fox has disappeared, leaving Isabelle, Julian and Samuel to go forth without him. They reach the village, and Isabelle learns Samuel’s true identity as soldiers come and a peaceful transition takes place from British to American rule. As the three head back, books in tow, they stop for the night at a family’s cabin. And here the trouble begins. The evening erupts in a bloody and violent Indian attack for which no one is prepared. As Isabelle stares into the wild-eyed, painted face of her attacker, she realizes it is none other than Quiet Fox. It is her last thought before his war club comes down upon her head.
The horrific imagery of the attack contrasts dramatically with Isabelle’s spiritual afterlife experience.
The music beckoned her spirit, reaching down and touching guarded chords inside her, opening her whole being like a key to someplace she hadn’t known was locked. Stringed lutes and violins joined in, filling empty spaces in her body. Then the gentle strum of harp strings joined with angelic voices. They sang in a language she had never heard and yet was familiar, as if she could understand if she only listened long enough. The voices rose in crescendo with an aching sweetness, until her chest began to heave with pent-up sobs of joy.
Full of wonder. Full of love.
But Heaven is not ready for her yet. Isabelle wakens to find that the Indians killed several members of the family and captured Samuel and Julian. Her quest to find them results in her own capture, after which she is forced to witness the horrific killing of her beloved brother. Together in captivity, she and Samuel find their passion for each other growing stronger as they hold fast to their faith and struggle to return to freedom.
Jamie Carie has once again seamlessly woven her in-depth research into an exciting and passionate page-turner. Her heroine’s character reminds me of a wild mustang running full gallop across the mesa, incredibly beautiful and too magnificent to tame. If you like plenty of action and emotion packaged into a historical romance, then WIND DANCER fits the bill.
Reviewed by Susan Miura on January 1, 2009