Harrigan's Bride

The Long Way Home

The Captive Heart by Cheryl Reavis
(Harl. Historical #512, $4.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-29112-4
I do not go out of my way to read “Indian Captive” romances. So when I discovered that Cheryl Reavis’ latest Harlequin Historical is, in fact, a captivity story, I was a bit concerned. I should not have been. In the hands of an truly talented author, a familiar plot can become riveting. And Reavis is a truly talented author.

Reavis has set her novel in the southern colonies at the time of the French and Indian War. There, as further to the north, the French had allied themselves with the disgruntled Native American peoples who were chafing at their treatment by the ever encroaching British settlers. The Cherokee were among the tribes who had sided with the French.

Hannah Albrecht Elway, is the wife of a major in the British army. Morgan Elway had married the daughter of an itinerant German-born preacher because he believed that it would further his position in colonial society. But he views his wife as an inferior and decides to get rid of her in the most cruel fashion. He arranges her capture by a Cherokee brave whose family he had murdered. It matters nothing to this selfish man that he has sentenced Hannah to a terrible fate.

But Morgan’s plan goes awry when his Cherokee slave offers to go after Hannah in return for freeing a fellow slave. Morgan is unable to turn down this offer, especially when it turns out that the slave is the half-breed son of a man well known and respected in the area. So Robert McLarn, better known as “Five Killer,” sets out to track down and save Hannah Elway.

Five Killer earned his name by revenging himself against the British soldiers who raped and murdered his Cherokee wife. Although raised among the English settlers, he had chosen to return to his mother’s people as a teenager. He could not bear the scorn of the whites for his Cherokee blood. While he respects and admires Hannah who has been kind to him in his captivity, he has his own pressing reasons for undertaking her rescue.

Five Killer finds Hannah in a Cherokee village, but it will take all his guile and strength to save her from the death planned for her. Hannah does not know what to make of the former slave’s arrival or of his actions. She does know that he may well be her only hope for survival.

Reavis does not prettify the harsh treatment a captive received at the hands of the Cherokee. Hannah suffers grievously and there is only so much that Five Killer can do to ease her situation. Her own bravery and determination to live are as significant as her rescuer's actions.

The Captive’s Heart is filled with action and danger, bravery and treachery. In the extreme situations that they must face together, it seems altogether natural that Hannah and Robert should come to love each other. But there are many, many obstacles that they must overcome.

Reavis peoples her novel with well drawn secondary characters. Morgan Elway has to be one of the most despicable villains I have come across in quite a while. She also provides a realistic setting as she recreates the harsh conditions of the southern frontier.

The Captive Heart is a compelling story. All the elements come together to create a real page turner. I have always enjoyed Cheryl Reavis’ romances, both historical and contemporary. This is one of her best.

--Jean Mason

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