Cavalry Captain Austin Shaw knew his aristocratic Boston family would never accept the Sioux beauty who had stolen his heart. Refusing to be a burden to him, the proud Wiwila fled, carrying their unborn child. But their paths would cross again in the aftermath of the bloody battle at Little Big Horn.
Nearly fifteen years later, an injured brave wearing a jeweled Shaw family ring is captured at Wounded Knee. Shipped eastward against his will, the half-breed known as Colt must at last confront his heritage.
Man Of Honor
In Boston, Colt comes under the tutelage of Miss Samantha MacGregor, a young governess hired to "civilize" him. Convinced her prim exterior hides a passionate heart, Colt vows to reward her efforts with lessons of his own--lessons of love, loyalty. . .and destiny.
"Time and time again, Georgina Gentry brings the American West to life."--Romantic Times on To Tame a Savage
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Washita River, Indian Territory
November 27, 1868
Colonel Custer had just given orders that the cavalry would attack the Indian camp at first light.
If they all didn't freeze to death first, Captain Austin Shaw thought, as he shifted his weight in the saddle and hunched his body against the icy wind. Behind him, he heard the other Seventh Cavalry horses crunching through the hard crust of snow as the men moved into position. The officer next to him cleared his throat and Austin whispered, "Sir, don't you think --?"
"We've already discussed this, Captain." Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer's blond curls were hardly visible under the fur cap. "There's been enough parlaying with the Cheyenne and their allies already. We've got our orders from General Sheridan."
"But shouldn't we wait for the Kansas troops?" Austin insisted.
Custer's pale blue eyes glared back at him. "With this blizzard sweeping across the plains, no doubt the Nineteenth Volunteers are lost in the snow north of here. We wouldn't have found this camp ourselves if it hadn't been for our Osage scouts tracking that war party through the snow."
Austin had to agree with that. They had left Camp Supply to the north days ago and had been fighting their way through the drifts. They'd lost many horses to the weather already and some of the men were suffering from frostbite.
Captain Benteen rode up just then, a frown on his moon-shaped face, his white hair hidden by a buffalo skin hat. "The troops are ready, sir."
Austin noted that Benteen's tone was barely civil. Everyone knew that Benteen disliked the seniorofficer and hated serving under him. George Armstrong Custer had changed in the last three years, there was no doubt about that. Austin had known Custer for many years. They had both attended West Point and served together during the Civil War.
"Good," Custer nodded. "Is the band ready?"
Benteen started to say something, then seemed to think better of it. "Yes, sir."
Austin chewed his lip, keeping silent. Only Custer would charge into battle with a brass band playing; it was one of the quirky things about his personality. He'd been in disgrace since his court-martial last year, and Custer was determined to clear his record. His old friend, General Sheridan, was giving him that chance now against the warring Plains tribes.
Austin's fingers felt numb inside his gloves and ice clung to the whiskers of his roan horse. God, he wished he could take shelter away from the relentless prairie wind with a hot cup of coffee to warm his stiff hands and a pipe full of fragrant tobacco. However, no one was allowed to smoke right now; the scent might carry to whatever sentries were in place . . . if there were any in place. So far, there was no indication that anyone in the sleeping Indian village had noted the approach of the cavalry. The wind howled relentlessly, biting into Austin's face and blowing drifting snow past the waiting troops and on toward the sleeping camp spread out along the Washita River.
Somewhere a dog began to bark and the waiting soldiers behind him cursed softly. There was no way to know whether the barking came from an Indian mongrel or one of Custer's beloved greyhounds that had come along on the march in case he got the chance to hunt.
Custer muttered under his breath to his men, "You've got your orders. We can't lose the element of surprise."
Austin wheeled his horse to return to his troops. He signaled them silently as the dog continued to bark. They were taking a chance, he knew, by splitting their forces in the attack because no one knew just how many warriors were camped along this river. It was difficult to know that, with the visibility so poor. What in the hell was he doing out here when he had a fortune and a luxurious estate waiting for him back in Boston?
He knew the answer: because his mother was in Boston and he loved the freedom of the army life and the vast expanse of prairie. Summer Van Schuyler was out here, too, but not in this camp, he hoped. He had loved her all his life, but when she had made her choice, she had run away with her half-breed warrior, Iron Knife. Austin could only pray that the pair and their children were riding with another Cheyenne band, far, far from here. If they weren't, he couldn't do anything about it now.
In a tipi by the river, Wiwila lay sleepless as she had been for hours. Nearby, her stepbrother, Runs Away, snored heavily, still under the effects of the liquor he'd drunk last night to seal the marriage bargain for her. Wiwila sighed and moved restlessly. Though she and her brother had ridden in from the Lakota a few days ago and she was part Cheyenne herself, this had not been her choice. Today she was to wed Go Dog, a Cheyenne brave who had offered ten ponies to Runs Away so the brave could make her his second wife. With Wiwila's parents both dead, her drunken brother had realized her beauty was a commodity with which he could bargain. The Lakota and the Cheyenne-Arapaho were long-time allies, united against their common enemies. With her Cheyenne-white-Lakota blood, Wiwila had paler skin than usual and gray eyes, gray as a wolf's pelt. Go Dog hungered for her and her stepbrother had driven a hard bargain.
Wiwila looked toward her sleeping brother again, gritting her teeth. Tonight, she would be sharing a lodge with the cruel Go Dog and his other wife. She pictured herself under the grunting, ugly brave and shuddered, then half rose up on one elbow. Could she possibly catch a horse and escape?
To where? she asked herself. It was a long way back up to the Dakotas through this terrible winter weather and she would never make it. That didn't leave her much alternative except to surrender her virginity tonight to the dirty, homely Cheyenne brave.
Outside, a dog barked and the sound echoed above the wind. Wiwila sat up and looked around the lodge in the cold coming dawn. Why was that dog barking so insistently? Most animals were curled up out of the wind asleep, just like the tribe. She slipped on her moccasins, dreading going outside to relieve herself. Grabbing a fur robe, she wrapped it around her, and went out, the howling wind taking her breath away. The snow still fell in a shadowy swirl so that even the trees swaying in the gale seemed like bare, stark bones. She crunched through the hard, frozen crust as she made her way to a haven of bushes that broke the icy blast.
The dog still barked. Probably it had jumped a rabbit. The camp was asleep, nothing stirring except herself, Wiwila thought. There was no need to get up with a blizzard blowing across the barren plains. Only a day or two ago, after she and her brother had arrived in camp, a Cheyenne war party had ridden in with scalps and booty from a raid against white settlers in that place called Kansas. When she felt herself pitying the dead women and children, she hardened her heart. Though Wiwila had picked up a little of the white language from missionaries and trading posts, she knew the white eyes were not to be trusted. Hadn't they proved that at Sand Creek four winters ago? Old Chief Black Kettle had ridden over to Fort Cobb a few days ago to ask for refuge for the peaceful element, but had been turned away.
She started back toward her lodge. The dog barked even more insistently and Wiwila stopped suddenly, all her senses alert. She stood there shivering for a long moment, then laughed out loud at her fears and continued trudging through the snow. Of course there were no enemies out there in this terrible storm. Everyone knew that white men, like the Indians, settled in by their fires until the cold weather was over. War was for warm days when the warriors could make their medicine and strip down to a breechcloth and paint for the fighting.
In the distant, blinding snow, shadows seemed to move. She strained her eyes, but now saw only swirling flakes. Somewhere, a horse whinnied and the dog barked again. The hair on the back of her neck rose. Something was not quite right. She must wake her brother and warn the camp. Wiwila hurried into the lodge, fell on her knees, breathless, and shook Runs Away roughly. "Brother, something's wrong."
He opened one bloodshot eye. "What you say, woman?"
Now she felt ridiculous. "I -- I don't know why, but there's a dog barking and--"
He struck her then, cursing as he knocked her across the lodge. "You disturb my sleep for a silly woman's fears? You want something to fear, think about Go Dog taking you tonight." He laughed coarsely, rolled over, and went back to sleep.
She struggled to control her indignation, knowing she was powerless. Wiping blood from her mouth, Wiwila stood up, uncertain what to do now. Her stepbrother was right; all she had to fear was her wedding night. She decided she would rather die than marry the ugly Cheyenne her brother had chosen. Despite the weather, she would steal a horse and flee the camp.
Very quietly, Wiwila grabbed up her fur robe, a packet of dried pemmican and a knife. She was tempted to stab the sleeping man, but knew it would only bring her more trouble. Runs Away owned an ancient gun but it lay under his arm and she feared to wake him if she tried to take it. She stepped outside, straining to see in the swirling whiteness.
Were her eyes playing tricks? Off in the distance, vague forms moved and a sound drifted to her ears on the wind. She must be losing her sanity; the noise was discordant and shrill, not like Indian flutes and rhythmic drums. Abruptly, she recognized the sound from the times she had been in trading posts and forts.
"Soldiers!" she screamed even as she recognized the distant shapes coming into focus, blue uniforms and charging horses throwing up sprays of snow as they galloped, breaking through the brittle crust of drifts while a brass band played loudly. "Everyone wake up! The solders come!"
Even as she screamed, she knew it was too late. The Long Knives were thundering down on the village, their guns echoing as they fired.
Was that a woman's scream or was it only the wind? Austin galloped through the snow toward the river. What did it matter? he thought as sleepy Indians began to tumble out of tipis and grab for weapons. Austin aimed and fired at a warrior who was pulling a soldier from his horse. He saw the girl now, a tall figure wrapped in a buffalo robe standing out in the snow, screaming and gesturing. He felt a flash of admiration at her bravery in trying to warn her people, but it was already too late. The Seventh Cavalry swept down across the encampment like a deadly scythe. Half-dressed warriors ran from lodges, shouting to each other as the soldiers' guns roared. Women stumbled outside, screaming and adding to the noise and confusion. Austin felt sick to his stomach, but then he remembered the dead settlers up in Kansas, and gritting his teeth, he fired at the warriors. If he didn't kill them, they would try to kill him. Women ran now to gather up children, struggling through the deep drifts, hoping to reach safety. Some of the soldiers fired wildly, making no distinction between women and men.
"Don't kill the women and children!" He shouted the order, but the cold wind blew his words back into his mouth. A brave raised his rifle, aiming at Austin. He felt the bullet whiz past his head and he shot the man dead. What the hell was he doing here, anyway? Austin swore and wheeled his horse past another brave who came at him with a lance. The lance barely missed Austin and took out a soldier riding behind him. The soldier shrieked in agony and fell. Austin shot the warrior, spurred his roan forward, and cursed himself for staying with the cavalry after the war instead of returning to Boston.
Boston. It seemed a million miles away from this desolate prairie battleground. Were his friends in this camp? Oh, God, he hoped not. No, he must not think of that now, he must keep on fighting, because even in the dim light and confusion, it was evident that there were far more Indians in this camp than the Seventh Cavalry had bargained for. Damn Autie Custer for his recklessness!
Near him, he heard Major Elliott shout, "Here's for a coffin or a brevet!" as he and his platoon split away from the charging troops and rode off into the blur of snow.
"Stop!" Austin yelled at him, but the wind blew his words away and the reckless young officer and his troops disappeared into the blizzard. Austin hesitated, wondering if he should go after them. It was foolhardy to split off that way, just in hopes of winning a medal or a promotion. Around him, soldiers fired, horses reared and whinnied, churning up the white powder, and over the screams and shouts, the brass band blared out "Garry Owen," Custer's favorite tune.
We are killing people to music, Austin thought. It seemed so ridiculous that he paused, reining in his roan. Indians were running, some making it to the horse herd, hoping to escape. Ahead of him, an American flag flew over a buffalo skin lodge. Had they accidentally attacked the wrong camp? His ears rang with the noise of rifle fire and the scent of burnt powder choked him. Then there was no more time to think, he was fighting for his life as the surprised warriors organized and began to defend their camp. Women screamed and gathered up children, trying to flee. Babies cried out in terror, dogs barked frantically, horses reared and plunged, whinnying as they struggled through the deep drifts or were wounded and fell.
Through the confusion and the slaughter rode George Armstrong Custer, his yellow hair gleaming under his fur hat as the dawn lightened the sky while the brass band played its peppy tune.
This might be my only chance to escape. Wildly, Wiwila looked around, trying to decide what to do next. Runs Away stumbled out of his lodge, looking confused and uncertain.
"Brother, what should we do?"
He cursed and pushed her away. "You're worthless if Go Dog doesn't survive. Look out for yourself!" With that, he shoved her aside and ran toward the stampeding horse herd.
She was on her own. Could she catch a horse and escape? Even as she thought that, her brother swung up on a running bay and rode out, not even looking back as he abandoned her to her fate. She must get out of here before she was killed. Wiwila began to run, stumbled, fell. She lay there a moment, gasping for air, feeling the chill setting into her bones. She must get up and run, risk being shot, or she would freeze to death lying here. Either way, she would die.
Wiwila stumbled to her feet, still clutching her precious bundle of supplies. Ahead of her, a woman with a baby strapped to her back was attempting to mount a plunging, terrified gray horse. It would be so easy to grab the reins, take the horse. Encumbered as the woman was with the child, she couldn't defend herself if Wiwila stole her horse. Wiwila rushed forward, grabbed the gray's bridle, then hesitated, listening to the screams of the baby.
"Here," Wiwila shouted, "I'll hold him, you mount up!" The Cheyenne woman looked surprised, then nodded. Wiwila helped her up on the horse, handed her the baby, and watched the woman gallop away, knowing she had just lost her own best chance for escape.
Galloping toward her now was a handsome officer on a roan horse. She paused, frozen in fear and defiance, knowing he was too close for her to escape him. If he were going to kill her, she'd just as soon be shot in the chest as the back. She stood her ground and glared at him, then began to sing a Lakota warrior's death chant.
His hazel eyes blinked, startled, and he rode on past her, firing at retreating warriors. She whirled in disbelief, looking after him. The horse herd had scattered now, making it impossible for her to catch one. As she watched, old Chief Black Kettle, with his wife mounted behind him, galloped across the shallow, frozen river and headed to safety on the far side. They didn't make it. Soldiers' rifles rang out and the horse stumbled as the pair slid off to fall partly in the muddy water that was turning as pink as the coming dawn, as pink as the blood-stained snow Wiwila stumbled through.
There was a captive white woman and her child in the camp. Wiwila knew the Cheyenne had taken her on a northern raid. Now in the distance, she saw the white woman and her frail little boy running toward the soldiers. Shots rang out and she and the child stumbled and fell, smearing the white, white snow with crimson. With all the confusion and the gunfire, there was no way to know which side had killed them. Around Wiwila, people were falling and dying. She grabbed up a lance from a fallen warrior, forgetting about escaping her fate as an unwilling bride now, concerned only with surviving. A soldier rode toward her on a chestnut horse, swinging his saber. She remembered only that he had light-colored eyes and his pale face grinned as he reached to cut her to pieces. Abruptly, Wiwila brought her lance up. The soldier's face registered horror and he tried to rein in, but it was too late. She threw the lance hard and impaled him. He was dead even before he tumbled from his horse. If she could just catch that horse, she'd be safely away from here. She ran after it, but the beast, panicked no doubt from the warm scent of blood running down its saddle, reared as she grabbed for the reins.
From a distance, Austin watched her as he reloaded his rifle. The slender Indian girl had just killed a soldier and no one could blame Austin if he shot her. Yet even as he brought the weapon to his shoulder while managing his plunging horse, he hesitated. He remembered the beautiful girl now, the one who had been so defiant only moments ago, the girl who had tried to warn the camp. Any moment now, she would swing up on that horse and escape. He paused, torn by inner conflict, admiring her bravery, yet knowing his orders were that women and children were to be captured.
He galloped toward her, spooking the chestnut horse as she tried to mount up. It plunged away, leaving her standing in the snow, facing him. He could see her face now, her skin lighter than the other Indians, her eyes gray as a summer storm. Her defiant yet frightened expression betrayed the fact that she expected him to kill her. He reined in, looking down at her, trying to decide what to do. She had earned the right to escape. Deep in his soul, he was tempted to capture one of the cavalry horses wandering about and give it to her. Austin, are you crazy? he thought.
Somewhere, a bugle sounded recall and the din of battle faded. He looked down at the girl. "You speak English?" She glared back at him without answering.
"Of course you don't. What a stupid question," he muttered, wishing he could take that look of fear and horror off her face. "You are safe now," he said slowly. "You will not be killed."
She stared back at him, then lunged at him. He got a quick glimpse of metal as she brought a knife from under her buffalo robe and tried to plunge it into his leg.
"Dammit!" Austin wheeled his horse as the girl attacked, the blade flashing in the morning light. The horse reared in surprise as Austin spurred it and he fell from the saddle, grabbing the girl in self-defense as he went down.
Austin caught her hand as they struggled for possession of the knife. "You crazy girl! I'm trying to help you!" Still she fought and bit and they rolled in the snow, but Austin was stronger and ended up on top. He lay on her, his hand holding her wrist as she struggled to stab him. She had a woman's softness and the warmth of her was a comfort to his chilled body. When she seemed to realize she couldn't win and lay still, breathing hard, he looked into those gray eyes and realized she had some white blood.
He twisted the knife from her hand even as she turned her head and sank her teeth into his wrist. "Damn you!" he swore, jerking away from her. For a moment, he was tempted to slap her senseless. She certainly expected he would beat her now -- her wide eyes told him that. He was torn between admiration and anger, yet he was a Boston gentleman born and bred and could never hit a woman.
"Hell!" he said and stood up, reached down, and jerked her to her feet. "The battle is over," he said. "Do you understand? No, of course you don't." He brushed the snow from his blue uniform and mounted his horse, trying to decide what to do about her.
The bugle sounded again. Austin drew a sigh of relief. He had thought Custer's orders ill-advised. Sometimes Custer had more bravery than brains. But then, that fiery officer hadn't made his mark in the Civil War and risen all the way to a general's stars by being cautious. However, Custer could be foolish, too. He had been downgraded from general to colonel after the war, and had just survived a courtmartial.
Leaving the girl staring him and with the bite on his hand still throbbing, Austin found his horse, rode back to the officer in charge, and reined in, saluting sharply.
Custer leaned on his saddlehorn, smiling in satisfaction at the dead Indians scattered across the frozen landscape. "Looks like we took them by surprise."
"Good thing," Austin snapped, "since there seems to be hundreds of them camped up and down the river."
The colonel shrugged. "They're in no mood to fight -- they're on the run."
Lieutenant Tom Custer rode up just then, his fair skin red in the cold wind. As he saluted, he said, "We lost a few men, but they've lost more."
Austin looked around, a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach. "Anybody seen Elliott since he took his men off down the river?"
A long pause. Benteen galloped up, saluted. "What's this about Elliott?"
"He's missing," Austin said. To George Custer, he said, "Colonel, I request permission to go look for Major Elliott and his men--"
"You'll do no such thing," Custer snapped with a shake of his blond curls.
"But, sir," Benteen protested, "they--"
"We've done what we came to do," Custer said. "I can't risk more men looking for a squad that may already be dead."
Austin gritted his teeth and watched Benteen exchange glances with an Osage scout. Custer wasn't as popular with his men in the Seventh Cavalry as he had been with the Wolverines of the Michigan brigade. Autie's attitude had changed, too, since he'd been demoted from general down to colonel as the army cut its budget. Austin sighed with resignation. "Sir, we await your orders."
For a long moment, there was only the sound of the wind and a few faint cries of dying Indians. Most of the warriors had fled, no doubt even now regrouping to attack the smaller white force.
Custer stroked his blond mustache in thought. "We've got to get out of here before they regroup and realize they outnumber us. Captain Shaw, take some men and gather up whatever women and children are still in the camp."
"You heard me. If we've got hostages, the warriors aren't apt to attack us as we head back toward Camp Supply."
"Sir, what about the Indian horses?" Benteen asked. "We can't drive that big herd clear back to Camp Supply and--"
"Shoot them," Custer said.
Benteen's eyebrows went up. "Shoot them?"
Austin winced. He liked horses.
"Are you deaf, Captain Benteen?" Custer shouted and his fair complexion turned an angry red. "If the braves recapture that herd, they've got the advantage. You've fought against mounted Indians enough to know that. Let our Osage scouts pick out a few for their personal use, keep a few to mount the captive women, and shoot the rest."
"Autie," Austin blurted, "I don't think--"
"Captain Shaw," Custer's eyes were as icy cold as his tone, "I would hate to think you were guilty of insubordination."
Austin swallowed hard to choke back his anger. "Yes, sir."
Custer nodded in curt dismissal and whirled his horse, riding away. Austin looked into the sullen faces of the other officers. He was gut-sick of the carnage of war. "When it comes time to reenlist, I just may retire."
Tom Custer laughed, his red face even redder in the cold wind. He had a reputation as a carouser. "Shaw, if I had your inheritance, damned if I wouldn't be in Boston right now at some fancy tea party. You're loco to stay."
Austin felt his face burn and one of his fists doubled up inside his glove. Some of the other officers, jealous of Austin's wealth and aristocratic background, would never let him forget it. "You heard the colonel's orders," he snapped. "Let's carry them out."
The others frowned and saluted, then rode off to deal with the horse herd. Austin wheeled his horse, looking out over the bloody battlefield. In the distance, he saw a slight figure struggling through the snow away from the camp. He recognized the girl who had tried to stab him. His wrist still throbbed, but he felt a grudging admiration for her pluckiness. She was determined not to be defeated, no matter how bad the odds.
A sergeant rode up just then and saluted. "Orders, sir?"
Austin saluted automatically, his gaze still on the girl. "Take some troops and start gathering up the women and children for hostages. Colonel Custer wants us out of here before the Cheyenne realize they outnumber us and regroup."
"Yes, sir." The grizzled sergeant spurred his horse and rode off.
Austin watched the girl in the distance, still struggling through the snow. She might get away, but she'd freeze to death out there on the prairie with no food or shelter. He nudged his horse and started after her.
She looked back over her shoulder in alarm, and attempted to quicken her step. Austin put spurs to his roan and loped through the snow toward her. "You, stop!"
She glanced back, spat in the snow, and kept moving.
Damn her, just who did she think she was? Austin was abruptly more than cold and tired, he was angry. How dare this slip of a girl defy the power of the U.S. Army? Off to one side, he saw the soldiers gathering up the forlorn group of survivors. He would insist this girl obey him.
"You there! Stop!" he yelled again as he rode closer.
Wiwila glanced over her shoulder at the blue-coated officer coming after her. She tried to quicken her step and fell in the snow. For a long moment, she didn't move. She couldn't outrun him on foot, so she might as well lie here and let him shoot her. No, she mustn't give up so easily. If she could just outwit him, perhaps she could figure a way to return the hundreds of miles to her Lakota people.
The officer was right behind her. She could hear the roan breaking through the hard crust of snow. "You there, I said stop!"
She would pretend she didn't understand English and keep moving. Maybe if she kept walking and he followed her, she could lead him out to where a warrior might be hiding, waiting to pick off a stray soldier.
"You there," he yelled again, "I said stop!"
She glanced back at him. He was tall, with wavy brown hair and hazel eyes. The brass on his blue uniform told her the man was a captain. He leaned from his saddle and reached for her. No doubt all the women were to be raped by the blue coats. She would not lose her virginity so easily. Wiwila attempted to dodge away, but he was strong. She fought him as he lifted her to his saddle before him.
"Damn you, I'm trying to help you!"
She answered by attacking him with teeth and nails, causing his horse to neigh and rear. He was an expert rider, she thought, almost as good as a Lakota warrior. He managed to keep his seat while twisting her arms behind her, rendering her helpless. "I ought to leave you out here to freeze to death," he muttered as he wheeled his horse and started back toward the center of the camp where other soldiers were burning lodges and supplies, shooting horses. A bewildered little group of women and children stood surrounded by a guard as the others burned the camp and gathered up the others.
Wiwila took a deep breath and yelled at the women in Lakota, "If we can delay them, our warriors will regroup and come back to save us!" They looked at her, puzzled and defeated. She tried to think of the Cheyenne words and could not remember them.
The soldier laughed. "You must not be one of them, my little minx. It's plain they don't understand you."
"Lakota, me," she snarled at him before she thought, looking over her shoulder at him.
His handsome face furrowed. "You speak English?"
She must not give herself away. Wiwila stared up at him as if uncomprehending. Her ability to understand the soldier talk might be the only thing that could save her later.
Her officer rode over to two other soldiers where they were joined by an officer chief with yellow hair.
The moon-faced one looked her over. "Where'd you get that toy?"
"I was saving her life, that's all." Her captor sounded embarrassed.
The red-faced one snickered. "Let's both save her life a little tonight when we're back in camp."
If Wiwila had had any doubts, she had none now. Tonight, the bluecoats would use her for their pleasure!
Copyright © 2002 by Linda Murphy
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
'To Tame A Savage' was one of two best romance novels I have ever read. I love this story! The other was by Cathy Maxwell. Ms. Gentry has done a fantastic job with a story that flows smoothly and showcases well-developed characters. A hard to put down book. I have read the book three times already. Wonderful, beautiful story and a great writer. D.Adegbore,Ph.D.