San Francisco banker Edward Bryant is looking for his daughter. Ten years earlier he was traveling by stagecoach with his wife and daughter when Indians attacked, shot Edward and took seven-year-old Teressa. They have been looking for her ever since with no luck. He approaches Chance McCloud, a rancher who is half Lakota Sioux, because Chance has been known to help find abducted wives and children. Chance is reluctant even though he needs the fifteen thousand-dollar reward to pay off the mortgage on his ranch. Then he meets Rosalia Bryant, Teressa's mother, and decides to try.
Chance is known to his Lakota relatives as Wolf Shadow. He realizes that he has seen a young woman who looks like Rosalia Bryant at his cousin's village. When he arrives, he talks with his shaman cousin who tells him that the girl is a beloved adopted daughter and must agree to leave with him or he will not be allowed to return to the village.
Strong Elk is courting Winter Rain. She plans to marry him if her father Eagle Lance accepts the bride price. Her first encounter with Wolf Shadow confuses her because she is drawn to him. When he calls her Teressa and tells her about her real parents, she denies it. She has completely blocked any memories of the Bryants. Wolf Shadow decides to court her both to convince her to go back to the Bryants and because he is attracted to her as much as she is to him.
Wolf Shadow and Winter Rain fall into a number of adventures that include abduction by a rival Crow tribe, travels through the Black Hills, and traveling with the Bryants. Each turn makes the connection between them stronger. The author includes a lot of information about life in a Lakota village. I especially enjoyed the description of a social gathering that explained some of the different dances between couples. The obvious clashes between the Indian and the white cultures were detailed on a personal level for Winter Rain/Teressa and Wolf Shadow/Chance. (The name changes might seem confusing, but I had no trouble following them.)
A couple of false notes in the story had to do with the Bryants. Both of them notice the attraction between their daughter and Chance. Edward even warns Chance to stay away. However, when Edward must return to San Francisco several weeks before his wife and daughter, he asks Chance to let them stay at his ranch instead of in the nice hotel in town. Once at the ranch, Rosalia allows Teressa to spend a day riding the range with Chance without a chaperone. This is quite out of character for Rosalia and is obviously included only to strengthen the connection between Chance and Teressa.
Readers of western and Indian romances will enjoy this story. Ms. Baker does not idealize either the Indians or the whites. Massacres, slavery, prejudice, rapes, and abductions by people from both cultures are mentioned, though most are not described in detail. What does come through is the strong connection between two people with feet in both worlds.
--B. Kathy Leitle