New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Cassie Edwards tells a sweeping tale of fateful love, forbidden, yet undeniable. . .
Hannah Kody came to her brother's ranch in the Kansas Territory to be his eyes, as his sight was failing fast. Yet his misfortune couldn't dim the joy she found in the wide vistas of the Western plains. And the excitement she found in the presence of Strong Wolf. The future chief of the Patawatomis stood tall and proud, and Hannah dreamed she had traveled there to meet him. . .
But for Strong Wolf, Hannah was supposed to be the enemy, allied not only to the settlers he distrusted, but to the brutal foreman of her brother's ranch. He felt only sorrow could come of their attraction, until the day Hannah rode to his lodge, fell into his arms, and launched a journey neither had the desire to deny...
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By Cassie Edwards
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2015 Cassie Edwards
All rights reserved.
Nymph-like, she is fleet and strong.
Saint Louis, Missouri—1853
The small room was dark and airless. There were no mirrors. There was no dressing table. The sparse furnishing consisted of only a bed with a lumpy mattress, a bedside table on which sat a kerosene lamp, and a hard-backed chair. The only window was at the very top of the room, near the ceiling, purposely giving no one access to it.
Feeling like a caged panther, Hannah Kody paced the room nervously, the long skirt of her black dress tangling around her legs as she made her swift turns.
She stopped and looked up at the window. Outside white puffs of clouds floated across a brilliant blue sky. The sun was straight overhead. It was noon. Soon someone would come and break the silence that was near to driving her mad.
"Isolation." Hannah breathed out in a low, agitated whisper. "I've been put in isolation!"
She ran her fingers through her flowing waist-length golden hair. Never would she part with her hair! She would not allow anyone to chop it off, almost to her scalp. She was in a convent in Saint Louis, Missouri, not of her choosing. So she was certainly not going to part with her hair only because it was the rule of the convent to do so. It was required of all young women who entered the teachings of becoming a nun.
"Hah!" she whispered, and begin pacing again. "Just let them try. Even if I have to stay in isolation until hell freezes over, I won't part with my hair."
Hannah had been called a tomboy all of her life and hadn't minded it. But she didn't want to have short hair like a boy! She had always treasured her long, flowing golden hair. As she saw it, it was the only thing beautiful about her.
She knew that she was tall and lanky. There was nothing she could do about that.
But she could certainly make sure nothing happened to her only asset—her hair!
"Mother, Father," she agonized in a whisper. "Why did you do force this sort of life on me? I don't want to be a nun!"
Of course she knew their reason, and had fought them every inch of the way. But, due to her father's bullheaded determination to change her into a lady, she had lost the battle. He had said that if her very own parents couldn't tame her tomboyish ways, surely the sisters at the convent could!
Hannah had been there only a short time, but it had seemed an eternity. And as far as she was concerned, nothing about her had changed, except for making her even more rebellious than before.
"I'll show them," Hannah whispered. She plopped down on the chair in an unladylike manner, her legs widespread, the skirt hiked up past her knees. "I'll make them want to send me away. They will grow tired of battling me as I stubbornly fight for my rights."
She gazed up at the window again and daydreamed that she was riding on a horse in a wide-open meadow, the ground dotted with a beautiful tapestry of wildflowers.
Her hair was blowing in the wind.
The horse was galloping hard, its mane flying.
If she closed her eyes even now, she could smell the horseflesh. She could feel the wind and sun against her face. She could capture that wonderful feeling of freedom!
The sound of a key being placed in the lock of the door drew Hannah back to the present. She eased up out of the chair and backed against the wall in the deeper shadows. Although she suspected that someone was bringing her dinner, she never knew for sure whom to expect to walk through the door. Every nun in the convent had tried to scold her into obedience. But all had turned away, sighing, or whispering beneath their breaths some small prayers for her salvation and forgiveness.
Hannah could scarcely feel the beat of her heart as she watched the doorknob turn. Although hungry for food and company, and hoping that food was just outside the door, she did not look all that forward to eating. She had not only been placed in isolation, she had been given small portions of food, and nothing tasty.
Nor had she had a cup of tea or coffee since she had been in isolation. She had been on a ration of water.
When the door slowly opened and Hannah could smell a familiar perfume, that which her mother wore, her eyes widened. She gasped softly when her mother and father entered the room. She became numb, for surely they had been told about her being so uncooperative, and had come to shame her into obedience.
"Hannah," her mother said, moving in a dignified glide across the room in her lace-trimmed, pale blue velveteen dress, her arms outstretched toward Hannah. "My sweet darling. How could they treat you this way? Never would I have expected this or I would have fought much more aggressively your father's decision to place you here."
Hannah welcomed her mother's soft hug. Ah, but she was such a short, petite woman, someone Hannah would have loved molding herself after. But she had inherited her father's tall height, his lankiness.
She returned her mother's embrace, relishing the familiar aroma of her mother's French perfume, yet watching her father over her mother's shoulder as he stood just inside the room, somber.
He was dressed in an expensive dark suit, a diamond stickpin glittering in the folds of his ascot at his throat. His long legs were stiff as he slowly rocked back and forth on his heels while staring back at Hannah with his piercingly dark eyes, those which she had most definitely not inherited. Hers were green, as green as spring grass, like her mother's.
She could smell the cigar scent of her father, yet even that could not hide the overpowering smell of medicine that clung to him and his clothes, which he acquired from his daily medical practice. He was a well-known surgeon. He had wanted Hannah to follow in his footsteps.
She had refused. She wanted no part of attending medical school. And she most certainly didn't want to be imprisoned by hospital walls, reeking of medicine herself, day in and out.
For so long it had been Hannah's dream to train show horses. Until her parents had interfered, she had been working with a trainer, learning his skills.
Unlike her older sister, who was a senior in college, and her brother, who now owned a ranch—thanks to their rich father, who had backed both their ambitions—Hannah had vowed never to accept her father's "charity" by him giving her a start in a career, especially one not of her own choosing.
She wanted to pay her own way—earn her keep.
She didn't want to be beholden to anyone, especially not her overbearing father, the Howard Kody, whose name was known throughout the midwest for his skills at doctoring.
"Hannah," her father said, his voice deep and gravelly. "Grace and I have come to take you from the convent."
Hannah was taken aback by what he said. She eyed him speculatively as her mother moved to her side.
"Father, what did you say?" she gulped disbelievingly. Could it be true? she wondered anxiously. Could he actually care enough for her feelings that he would end this charade that he had forced on her? Did he truly care for her so much that he would put her feelings before his?
"I said we've come to take you from the convent," Howard said, then had no time to say anything else. Hannah rushed across the room and flung herself into his arms. It had been a long time since she had been given any reason to hug him. She had not known until now how much she had missed his powerful arms around her, his breath stirring her hair as he leaned his cheek into it.
They embraced for a moment longer, then Howard gripped Hannah by her shoulders and held her at arm's length.
"Thank you, Father," Hannah said, tears streaming from her eyes, now realizing he cared so much for her. She even felt somewhat guilty for having disappointed him.
"Grace, get Hannah's things together," Howard said, nodding toward his wife of thirty years. "Then we'll go and try and clear things up with Sister Kathryn. We've got to make her understand why this had to be done. When she hears that our son is going blind, and that this is the only reason we are taking Hannah from the convent, she will understand."
"Yes, she'll understand that a sister's place is with a brother at times like this," Grace said, going to take a satchel from beneath the bed. "Hannah is needed there, to see after his best interests, especially since we can't stay with him. And Chuck most certainly will not leave his ranch to live with us."
Hannah paled. She looked in jerks from her father to her mother, then back at her father, her eyes wavering. She had been wrong to think that her father had had a change of heart for her sake. He was taking her from the convent for someone else. Not for her, or her feelings!
She wrenched herself free of her father's grip. She glared at him and wiped the tears from her eyes as she squared her shoulders.
Yet she couldn't find the words to tell him how he had just let her down again, as he had so often in her life.
Then his words about her brother sank in. Blind? Her brother was going blind?
"How bad is Chuck?" Hannah blurted out, now feeling guilty for having thought of herself, when all concerns should be centered on her brother.
"His eyesight is quickly failing him," Howard said solemnly. "Damn it all to hell, anyway. He has followed his dreams to the Kansas Territory, established a ranch, and now this."
"Will he go totally blind?" Hannah said, her heart aching over her dear brother's misfortune.
"Seems so," Howard said, then turned to Grace when she brought Hannah's satchel to him.
"Father, Mother said something about me looking after Chuck's best interests," Hannah said, swallowing hard. "What does that mean? That I am going there? To live with him?"
"Yes, Hannah." Howard nodded. "You will be his eyes."
"His ... eyes ..." she said more to herself than to her parents. She weighed this in her mind. She wanted to find the good in how her life would change again.
Yes, she was jubilant to leave the convent. And in Kansas she would be able to ride horses in the open range. She would be as free as the wind, to do as she pleased; the outdoors had always beckoned to her, as if it were her lover.
But she could not allow herself to be jubilant over her quickly changing future, and that in her brother's misfortune came a beacon of light for her. She was deeply saddened over her brother's worsening condition.
"Do you mind traveling to Kansas, dear, to help your brother in his time of need?" Grace asked, placing a gentle hand to Hannah's cheek. "You and Chuck have always been close. It will delight him to have you with him."
"Of course I don't mind," Hannah said.
Then she stepped away from her mother and turned glittering, mutinous eyes to her father. "But I wish just once that I could be allowed to make my own decision about something," she blurted out. "I am eighteen, you know."
"And so you are," her father said, sighing. "And so you are."
She inhaled a quivering breath, then left the room with her parents.
After bidding a good-bye to Sister Kathryn, Hannah left the convent with a wild, thumping heartbeat. She could hardly wait to board the riverboat that would take her to the Kansas Territory. She would be with her brother again. And without her parents or the sisters there to dictate her every move, she would finally know the true meaning of the word freedom.
For the first time ever, her life would be hers, to do with as she pleased!CHAPTER 2
From her little head to her little feet
She was swayed in her suppleness to and fro
By each gust of passion; a sapling pine,
That grows on the edge of a Kansas bluff!
Two Weeks Later, Kansas Territory
"And how do you like living with your big brother?" Chuck Kody asked as he squinted through his thick eyeglasses, trying to see Hannah across the large oak dining table. "It's quite different from living 'midst the hustle and bustle of Saint Louis, isn't it, sis?"
Since she was no longer under the scrutiny of her parents, or the sisters at the convent, Hannah was feeling at peace with herself for the first time in weeks. Except for her concern over her brother's failing eyesight, she would feel that finally all was well in her world.
She shoved her empty breakfast plate aside, saddened that he couldn't see well enough now to see her give him a warm smile.
"I love it," she said, rising from her chair. She went to Chuck and stood behind him, then draped her arms around his neck and lay a cheek on his head. "I'm glad to be here with you."
He reached up and patted one of her hands. "It's not the same, though, is it?" he said thickly.
She leaned around him and kissed his cheek. "No, it isn't," she said, her voice drawn. "I wish I could wave a magic wand and tell your eyes to be like they were years ago when we went horseback riding every morning before breakfast. Now that was living, big brother. I don't think I've ever felt as alive as then."
"Damn my eyes," Chuck said in a low growl. "I can hardly see an inch ahead of me now, much less ride a horse."
Hannah stepped away from him as he inched his chair back and rose slowly to his feet. She flinched when he stumbled over the leg of the chair, causing it to fall over with a loud crack against the polished oak floor.
"Hell," Chuck said, bending and searching for the chair with his hand.
"I'll get it for you," Hannah said, tears filling her eyes to see his helplessness.
"No," Chuck said. He reached a hand out to stop her. "Please don't patronize me, Hannah. I'm not that helpless. Not yet, anyhow. It's just a damn chair. Anyone can knock over a damn, stupid chair."
Covering her mouth with her hands, Hannah stood back and watched him grope around for the chair.
Once he found it, she could see how his hands trembled as he locked his fingers around the back of the chair. She wanted to rush in and get it upright again for him, so that he would not have to feel the helplessness that he was surely experiencing.
She sighed heavily as the chair was finally in place at the table.
She then watched as her brother searched around for his cane, then sighed again when he found it.
As he inched himself along, feeling his way across the room with his cane, Hannah walked beside him. She didn't dare place a hand to his elbow and help him. Although she was there for that very purpose, she had discovered upon first arriving at the ranch that it had not been his decision at all to have her there, to see to his every need. It had been her father's. He had taken it upon himself to interfere in his son's and daughter's lives again.
She knew, deep down, that her brother was thankful she was there, no matter the circumstances. And she certainly had not minded her father manipulating her life this time, either. It had gained her freedom from the convent.
How wonderful it was to be out here in the wide-open spaces where she could look for miles and miles and see the vastness of the land. Just seeing it made her feel free, sometimes even wild, as though she were one with the land and the animals.
While horseback riding, she had even taken advantage of her newfound freedom to go and take a look at the Potawatomis Indian village not far from her brother's ranch. In fact, their land adjoined Chuck's. It was hard to tell where their land stopped and Chuck's started. Only a small portion of his ranch, used for pasturing cows, was bordered with a fence.
Thus far, Hannah had not come face-to-face with any Potawatomis people. The thought intrigued her, especially since they were her neighbors.
"You go on, now, Hannah, and take your morning ride," Chuck said as they entered the parlor.
"If I didn't know better, I'd think you were trying to get rid of me," Hannah joked back.
"Never," Chuck said, stopping to turn to her. He searched with his hand until he found her face. He ran his fingers over her features. "Sweet Hannah. You don't know how good it is to have you here. Please forgive me if I get grouchy sometimes. I'm finding it damn hard to adjust to my affliction. Please always remember, though, that having you here helps lighten the burden."
"I hope so," she murmured. "I only wish to do what is best for you."
Her gaze moved over him. He was a tall, handsome man. Although he could buy any expensive suit he wished, he usually wore fringed buckskins. He had told her that he wore the buckskins because they were more comfortable. She knew that the true reason was because they were easier to get into, with no buttons to maneuver into buttonholes.
His collar-length hair was the same color as hers, as golden as Kansas wheat. And his eyes, although having failed him, were still a sparkling green.
He was very muscular, even though he was no longer able to get out and do much physical labor. But she had seen him exercise, knowing himself the importance of keeping his muscles alive and active.
Excerpted from Wild Thunder by Cassie Edwards. Copyright © 2015 Cassie Edwards. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Cassie edwards has done it again. A very good book to read.
Hannah is an eighteen year old girl who is a tomboy and doesn’t want to change her ways. Hannah’s parents then send her to a convent to become a nun. Hannah was in isolation as she refused to cut her long hair. She felt that was her only asset. Hannah wanted to train show horses but her father was against it. He wanted her to be a doctor like him but Hannah wanted nothing to do with that. So now her brother was going blind and Hannah was to go to his ranch to be with him. She would be Chuck’s eyes. She had already went horseback riding and took a look at the Potawatomes Indian village. She at least felt free with her brother. Tiny Sharp was her brother’s foreman and Hannah didn’t trust him. Strong Wolf showed up at Chuck’s door one day . Strong Wolf made Hannah feel alive in a way she never had before. Tiny wants all that is Chucks and feel Hannah is a hindrance to him obtaining that goal. Hannah dreams of Strong Wolf. Strong Wolf has dreams of a long yellow haired woman. This book was one you didn’t hate and you didn’t really love. It just somehow missed the wow factor I love in a story. The writing was good, and I liked the action in the story. I liked most of the characters other than Tiny. Strong Wolf was a great character and I loved how he wanted peace and how he tried to do things. Hannah was a pretty good character also. I received an ARC of this story for an honest review.
This book was weirdly paced. Some storylines progressed way too quickly to feel realistic whereas others plodded painstakingly slowly.
I used to have it in paperback, and i loved it!!!
Western Indian Romance Hannah Kody is a fiercely independent 18-year-old tomboy that is tall and lanky. Hannah does not consider herself a beauty. She craves freedom and wants to control her own destiny without parental or sibling interference. Trying to tame her nature, her parents placed her in a nunnery. Plotting to return home, her parents arrive to send Hannah to her brother, Chuck. Hannah needs to be his eyes, he is going blind on his ranch in the Kansas territory. Kansas represents freedom to Hannah, to ride as wild as the wind and do as she pleases. Chuck's ranch borders the Potawatomis Indian Village; Hannah is fascinated by the thought of the Indian People. When Strong Wolf arrives at the ranch, Hannah sees a muscular, strong, handsome warrior who is next in line to be Chief. Attraction strikes at once. Tiny, Chucks foreman is pure evil and will not stop until he runs the Indians off their land and take Chuck's ranch as well. Strong Wolf has secrets and another enemy in a Sioux warrior seeking revenge for his father death. Thus begins the tale of Strong Wolf and Hannah. Ms. Edwards has created a story filled with strife, family and tribal love, prejudice, evil men with evil intentions, revenge, a strong hero and heroine in Strong Wolf and Hannah, and red-hot passion. The trials of the Potawatomis just keep coming in this story, Ms. Edwards has filled this story with trials and tribulations for Strong Wolf and Hannah. The action is non-stop. Thru it all the one constant is the love between Strong Wolf and Hannah. Ms. Edwards gave us a look into the tribal life of the Potawatomis Indians and into the family structure and traditions which was enlightening. I would recommend this book for young adults to adults due to sexual content. I received a copy of this from the publisher and Netgalley in return for an honest review.
Hannah Kody came to her brother's ranch in the Kansas Territory to be his eyes, as his sight was failing fast. Yet his misfortune couldn't dim the joy she found in the wide vistas of the Western plains. And the excitement she found in the presence of Strong Wolf. The future chief of the Patawatomis stood tall and proud, and Hannah dreamed she had traveled there to meet him. . . But for Strong Wolf, Hannah was supposed to be the enemy, allied not only to the settlers he distrusted, but to the brutal foreman of her brother's ranch. He felt only sorrow could come of their attraction, until the day Hannah rode to his lodge, fell into his arms, and launched a journey neither had the desire to deny... Review: I have not read this genre of romance in a while and thought I would pick it up, being attracted to the the cover first. I did not realize it was a re-release. While I do not mind re-releases, I did not find a lot of updating in this one. The language used seemed more from the time period it was written in (think of your typical bodice-rippers of the 80' s and 90's). I loved the idea of the book; independent, feisty, young woman goes out west to help her brother and ends up falling for the handsome, exotic Indian Chief. I do like most of the story, I just really think more time should have been put into updating it. I thought Hannah and Strong Wolf had a good spark and chemistry between them and loved the scenes between the two of them the most. Okay book, not my favorite. 3Stars *Received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.*