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Comanche Eagle

The Cowboy's Seductive Proposal

Comanche Passion by Sara Orwig
(Zebra, $4.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-8217-6286-9
Why do I appreciate Comanche Passion more now reflecting on the experience than I did while reading the book? There are many positives in Sara Orwig’s writing: her attention to detail, accurate depiction of history and geography, an ability to convey just the right proportion of passion and tension between the hero and heroine. Yet, Comanche Passion was somewhat disappointing for me. Sara Orwig can write a far better book, as shown by last year’s Comanche Eagle.

Savannah Ravenwood and Quentin Red Hawk are an unlikely pair. The Civil War is nearing an end, war-torn Vicksburg is in federal hands, and the South is desperate for medical supplies Both are attempting to steal medical supplies for the Confederacy, but Savannah wants the supplies to go one place, Red Hawk another.

Desperate to help her fiancé, a doctor in the Confederate army, Savannah has purchased much needed medicines to relay to him. Her bit of smuggling would have gone unnoticed but for a last-minute theft of a few more vials from the boat’s dispensary just before disembarking. Detection leads to a chase.

Quentin Red Hawk, a captain in the Confederate army, is on the run after escaping imprisonment. Captured while searching for drugs for his brother and others wounded in recent fighting, Red Hawk is hanging around the docks hoping to raid an army boat to help those in Louisiana. He joins the chase, realizing immediately he wants to catch this woman as much as the pursuing soldiers. Not long after, he grabs the panting, exhausted Savannah and pulls her into an alley. Thus, begins their “partnership” on the run.

After escaping, they strike a bargain to help each other. They travel -- usually on one horse, creating many opportunities for erotic rubbing and reacting -- from Vicksburg, across Louisiana, stopping to visit the wounded troops, then on to Nacogdoches, to rescue Savannah’s sister from an abusive husband, and finally to San Antonio, where Savannah poses as Red Hawk’s fiancée to help him become guardian of his orphaned nephew.

In freeing her sister, Savannah struggles with and shoots her abuser. Red Hawk confesses to an arriving neighbor he is the shooter; so, much of the rest of the story occurs with a one-thousand-dollar bounty on Red Hawk’s head. This lacks credibility when they settle into San Antonio and go about the business of gaining custody of his nephew. Until a propitious moment, no one reads the wanted posters.

Physical and emotional abuse is a thread running throughout this story. Savannah is won over by Red Hawk’s gentle treatment of her abused sister and is aware of the chipping away of her prejudice against the Comanche. He and his brother chose to fight with the Confederates more to fight against the hated federal army than due to some deep-seated feeling for southern causes.

Red Hawk is aware his traveling companion is attracted to him and naïve but reminds himself that she is promised to another man. Savannah broods about her fiancée, a childhood friend, to whom she is linked by a relationship promoted by her late father, but feels nothing akin to passion. More importantly she knows how ill suited she would be to “life on the road” with Red Hawk once he and his nephew rejoin his father’s Comanche people.

One of the flaws in this book is that the author repeats these valid concerns over and over and over. It not only becomes tiresome but also erodes an otherwise credible storyline, since before long and with little reason, the oft repeated concerns blow away like so much fluff. Each uses sexual intimacy to gain the advantage in their tug-of-war between competing life styles; so much for restraint and concern for her fiancé.

While Comanche Passion frequently seems to lose its focus, the book is commendable for depicting historical background and locale accurately. Sparks fly between the hero and heroine; this author incorporates lots of sizzle. Beyond the male-female relationships explored here, the author conveys sensitively the camaraderie of men who have experienced the brutality of the battlefield, though they have not fought side by side. So, while last year’s Comanche Eagle is better evidence of Orwig’s talent, Comanche Passion is a good choice for many readers.

--Sue Klock

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