Black Tree Moon
I haven’t had much time lately to read any of my beloved romance novels, but one day I couldn’t take it anymore. I needed a fix so I delved into my TBR pile and decided on what proved to be a gem of a book. Black Tree Moon is an excellent way to spend a couple of hours getting away from it all.
Race Latimer is a smokejumper, an elite brand of firefighter. He is home during a break in the fire season when he and Hannah Quinn, the local social worker, meet. They meet formally when Hannah and a group of women from the New Moon Center (where Hannah works) stage a sit-in at the gambling establishment that Race is part owner of in Deadwood, South Dakota. Although the gambling industry has revived Deadwood’s previously faltering economy, the women are protesting various societal ills they believe are caused by gambling. During the protest, Hannah is arrested but Race refuses to press charges because he is secretly attracted to her.
This is one of my favorite kind of romances. The hero and heroine are obviously attracted to each other and, while they stay in character for the most part as they deal with their respective feelings, every once in awhile they can’t help themselves and they find themselves doing things that even they can’t believe they are doing. Race is a man of the world. He’s been around. Hannah is the daughter of missionaries and very innocent in the ways of men. At one point, Race returns to town exhausted from a fire-fighting expedition. He can’t figure out why he is attracted to Hannah because she is really not his type of woman, but, almost of their own volition, his feet take him to her office the minute he gets back in town. Race is dog-tired and needs to sleep but he needs to see Hannah more.
At midnight that same day, Hannah finds herself knocking at Race’s door (they live in neighboring houses on a lake) with a pan of lasagna. She almost chickens out. She knows this is not normal behavior for her to be standing on a man’s doorstep at midnight but she can’t help herself. A very fetching little love story is the end result of Race and Hannah stepping out of character every once in a while.
The romance is not, however, without its rocky moments. Race is frustrated because he wants to be with Hannah in the physical sense but Hannah wants Race to tell her that he loves her before that happens. This paves the way for another one of those delightful moments in the story when both Race and Hannah find themselves acting totally unlike themselves. These unexpected twists of character give the book emotional depth that is usually hard to find in these shorter length stories.
It is especially poignant that while Race remains, almost to the end of the story, afraid to tell Hannah he loves her, Hannah has no such compunction. She reaches a point where she simply has to tell Race how she feels about him because her feelings are too immense and far-reaching to contain any longer. She may not be his usual type, but Hannah is exactly the kind of woman Race needs in order to open up emotionally.
This book has it all as far as I am concerned: good humor, excellent characters and it incorporates, as Kathleen Eagle’s stories usually do, Native American culture. Both Race and his mother, who is an integral part of the story, are members of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa in North Dakota.
I enjoyed this book nearly as much as I did This Time Forever, one of my all-time favorites and also by Kathleen Eagle. In other words, Black Tree Moon is in exalted company and I highly recommend it.