Distant Heart (Westward Hearts)

( 7 )

Overview

Toni Rodden has escaped a life of prostitution and vows she'll never let a man control her again. After months on the wagon train, she's finally earned her place, albeit grudgingly from some, and has found a surrogate family in Fannie Caldwell and her two siblings. For the first time she can taste freedom and the possibilities of a new life. But as Fannie prepares to marry wagon master Blake Tanner, Toni realizes how alone she is and questions whether she'll ever find ...

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Distant Heart (Westward Hearts Series #2)

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Overview

Toni Rodden has escaped a life of prostitution and vows she'll never let a man control her again. After months on the wagon train, she's finally earned her place, albeit grudgingly from some, and has found a surrogate family in Fannie Caldwell and her two siblings. For the first time she can taste freedom and the possibilities of a new life. But as Fannie prepares to marry wagon master Blake Tanner, Toni realizes how alone she is and questions whether she'll ever find acceptance, or true love.

Despite Toni's conviction that no man will be able to see beyond her marred past, Sam Two-Feathers, the half-Indian wagon scout and acting preacher for the train, seems to know of a love that forgives sins and values much more than outward appearances. Will Sam have the confidence to declare his love? Will Toni be able to trust in a love that can forgive even the darkest past?

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Editorial Reviews

Karen Kingsbury
“Tracey Bateman is one of the most talented new storytellers in Christian fiction.”
Romantic Times BOOKclub
“The second book in the Westward Hearts series is a must-read for those who treasure the untold stories of pioneer women. Historical details help readers experience early American Christianity and all its struggles and triumphs.”
Tracie Peterson
“A wonderful story of adventure and love on the westward trail. …a pleasurable read to be sure.”
Romantic TimesBOOKclub
"The second book in the Westward Hearts series is a must-read for those who treasure the untold stories of pioneer women. Historical details help readers experience early American Christianity and all its struggles and triumphs."
Tracie Peterson
"A wonderful story of adventure and love on the westward trail. …a pleasurable read to be sure."
Karen Kingsbury
"Tracey Bateman is one of the most talented new storytellers in Christian fiction."
Romantic Times BOOKclub
“The second book in the Westward Hearts series is a must-read for those who treasure the untold stories of pioneer women. Historical details help readers experience early American Christianity and all its struggles and triumphs.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061246340
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/2/2008
  • Series: Westward Hearts Series , #2
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 939,870
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.61 (d)

Meet the Author

Tracey Bateman is the award-winning author of many books, including Kansas Home.

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Read an Excerpt

Distant Heart

Chapter One

Toni held her breath, biting back the scream that fought to tear itself from her dry, aching throat. Bronze, nearly naked bodies sat regally, cruelly, atop painted ponies, as fearsome as the masters who rode them. Under a flag of truce these warriors had ridden into camp; wanted to make a trade. And, unless Toni missed her guess, she was the one they had come to acquire.

"Don't worry." Standing next to Toni, her friend and traveling companion, Fannie Caldwell, slipped her trembling hand into Toni's damp palm and nearly squeezed the blood from her fingers. She spoke with a confidence Toni was far from feeling. "Sam and Blake will never let them take you. Even if they have to kill every last one of those half-naked savages."

The words brought little comfort, considering the lecherous stare coming from the one who appeared to be the leader. A thick-chested, flat-stomached man with hair as black as pitch and eyes that gleamed with unmistakable intent. Lust looked the same no matter the color of a man's skin. Toni should know. She'd seen it more times than she cared to remember.

"Looks like they're offering three horses for you." Kip Caldwell, Fannie's thirteen-year-old brother spoke up, obviously impressed. "That's a good offer. That chief is serious as all get out to have you, Miss Toni."

Fannie reached out and gave the boy a hard pinch. "Kip, hush your mouth, for mercy's sake!"

"YOW!" His yelp drew attention from the warriors near the end of the line. They stared, scowled, then turned away. Kip remained belligerent. "You know derned well Blake ain't gonna let her go for that."

"Blake isn't going to let her go at all," Fannie hissed. "You either hush or you can just get yourself inside the wagon. And what have I told you about saying 'derned'?"

"Aw, Fannie. What's wrong with it?"

"Never you mind, just do as I say."

Toni barely listened to the whispered argument as she kept her gaze focused on the bargaining going on a few yards away. She could feel the accusing glares of the other pioneers around her. She could guess what they must be thinking. Once again, the no-good fancy woman had brought danger in their midst. Sweat trickled down her spine, and beneath her arms her dress had grown damp.

Dear Lord, is this what I deserve for all the sins I've committed?

The small band of Cheyenne warriors had been following the wagon train since daybreak. The wagon master, Blake Tanner, had called a halt at noon and ordered the wagons circled just in case the Indians planned to attack. Only now, in the mid-afternoon heat, had the fearsome creatures ridden into camp with trade on their minds. Given the wagon master's obvious disdain for her, Toni couldn't be as certain as his fiancée Fannie seemed to be that he wouldn't take the opportunity to be rid of her once and for all.

With the firm shake of Blake's head, the negotiations appeared to be reaching a frustrating peak for the chief. He tried to force the reins of three horses into Blake's hands, but the wagon master stepped back, shaking his head again and holding up his hands, palms facing outward. Sam, the half-Sioux scout spoke to the warrior, his tone polite and respectful, but leaving no room for doubt as to the refusal of the Indian's offer.

Nearly weak with relief, Toni swallowed hard and tried to control the urge to vomit. As much as she longed to avert her gaze from the fearsome lot of men with oil-slicked, painted torsos, she felt compelled to look on. She'd heard of the mesmerizing effects of terror that compelled a person to look into the face of a storm or stand unmoving before the dripping teeth of a grizzly bear. But only now had she ever experienced it firsthand.

The Indian loped up onto the back of his horse. He whipped his pony around to face Toni. Terror fused her knees straight and she couldn't have run even if she'd had the presence of mind to do so.

"Woman!" The Indian shoved his finger toward her, then turned it back and thumped his chest. "You come with Swooping Eagle?"

Toni shook her head so fast and vehemently the Cheyenne began to spin before her. The warrior's eyes narrowed to black, glittering slits.

He whipped his pony around once more, his broad, brown back glistening in the beating sun. He held up his arm for the twenty other warriors to follow.

One by one the pioneers lifted kerchiefs and aprons to cover their faces as the horses kicked dust into the dry air in the wake of their departure. Silently, they watched until the last Indian crested a hill on the horizon and disappeared down the other side. Then the buzz began, like a hive of angry bees.

Blake raised both arms and called for quiet. "Listen folks. We haven't seen the last of the Cheyenne. They've been stirring up trouble in these parts for the soldiers and wagon trains for months. It's going to be dark in a couple of hours, so we're going to keep the wagons circled and post extra guards. Especially around the women."

Toni's face burned as slowly the attention of the wagon train folks shifted from Blake to her. "I say we let the chief have her," called Mr. Kane. "I ain't riskin' my neck over some whore."

Fannie gasped and shot into the middle of the circle. "How dare you! Toni can't help what she was before. But she isn't that kind of woman now. So don't you even think about turning her over to that savage. You should be ashamed of yourself for even suggesting such a cowardly thing."

Blake strode forward and placed his arm around his fiancée. "It's all right, Fannie. No one's turning Toni over to the Indians." He pierced Mr. Kane with a look . . .

Distant Heart. Copyright © by Tracey Bateman. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. <%END%>
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 10 of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2008

    Inspiring and Alluring

    Distant Heart is the story of Toni Rodden, a former prostitute on a westward journey to Oregon and what is sure to be the start of a new life. Although Toni is now saved, she very quickly discovers that her fellow travelers are not as forgiving as the Almighty. Many look down on her for her past, making no secret of their disdain for this women who has brought so much danger to their wagon train. Then there's Sam Two Hawks, the man who sees her for what she truly is-- a beautiful child of God. But will Toni's past life and Sam's half Indian heritage prevent anything more than a friendship from blossoming between them? Distant Heart, once in your hands, is one of those books whose pages won't cease to turn until you reach the very last page. Tracey Bateman is a fantastic author whose gift with words provides an easily readable, however deep and intellectual, understanding of her characters and the story itself. The book is sure to bring hope to all who may be less than proud of their pasts, and inspiration to all of us- young and old, to serve God to the fullest, no matter what others think of us. It is a story of redemption and love, trials and victory. While you are sure to lose yourself in this book, you will no doubt find yourself in its characters, people who have loved, loss, hurt and healed. People like us.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    exhilarating mid nineteenth century Americana tale

    In 1850 former prostitute Toni Rodden and the three runaway indentured servants the Caldwell siblings (Fannie, and young teens Katie and Kip) flee Hawkins, Kansas to forge into a family of sorts as part of a wagon train traveling to Oregon. However although Toni feels good for Fannie as the latter marries wagon master Blake Tanner, she feels loneliness also. Toni knows no man will ever want her beyond a night or two because of her background until the Cheyenne war chief offers three horses for her. --- Wagon train scout Sam Two-Feathers vows to himself that he will protect Toni with his life before allowing her to be sold again. He knows the war chief will be back offering more to purchase Toni and fears some of the train will want to do so as she is a fallen woman and not worth the price of angering the Cheyenne. However, although Sam knows he loves Toni, he believes as a half Sioux, they cannot be together as white society will ostracize her Toni likewise feels the same except she fails to meet his much higher standard. --- The second Westward Hearts tale (see DEFIANT HEART) is a terrific western romance starring fully developed characters who bring to life the dangerous decade before the Civil War while heading westward. The story line is inspirational yet filled with so much historical insight fans will feel they are traveling on the wagon train as Tracey Bateman provides a vivid exhilarating mid nineteenth century Americana tale. --- Harriet Klausner

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 29, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Best in the series. Loved it!

    I loved the previous book in this series, but enjoyed this one even more. It was compelling and interesting. I dare say it is one of Tracey's best historical novels...at least that I've read so far. And it was very well-written. While Distant Heart has characteristics of a typical prairie 'wagon train' western-type novel, it's far from the usual fare. The tension and conflict were awesome and real, and there was plenty of hardship and grit on the 'journey' the heroine experienced. Real life issues such as shame, addictions, sin, jealousy, strife, deceit, murder, kidnapping, adultery, etc. They're all in there and comprise one incredible tale. I SO loved this story and the message it contains. And the perception Toni and Sam had in regards to each other made me crazy. I wanted to shake them both so they'd see the truth. But they were also self-sacrificing, and that makes for an awesome love story. The secondary characters were incredibly well done, too, and I'm looking forward to reading the final story in this series.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2012

    I love this book!

    This book is compelling and wonderful. The perfect picture of how God's love erases your past and makes you new!

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    Posted April 5, 2009

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