A man set on nothing less than complete revenge and women caught in the middle take center stage in the ninth title of Susan Edwards’ White series of Indian romances. Rather than the usual mix of a full-Caucasian character falling in love with a full or “half-breed” Indian, Edwards instead offers up the romance bewteen White Shadow, a half-breed Cheyenne, and Winona, a full-blooded Sioux.
White Shadow is a man tortured by his past. He seeks revenge on Huka Luka, whom he holds responsible for the massacre of his family 14 years earlier. That this man was once a friend makes it all the worse and our hero will not stop until Huka Luka pays the price. White Shadow feels no emotion and lives only to seek his revenge – until he sees his would-be captive. Winona of the Sioux is a beautiful girl about to be married off to a very powerful medicine man from another tribe. She is excited about her marriage and leaving to start her new life when she is kidnapped from holy ground, where she and her friend had gone to pray.
White Shadow kidnaps Winona as a bargaining chip. He plans to lure her fiancé out in the open and expose him for what he did. But that’s not all; he wants to trade her for his own sister, whom Huka Luka sold after the massacre. Only then will his torture ease.
Much of this book takes place on the “road” as White Shadow runs with Winona and her best friend. Our hero and heroine get to know one another and eventually fall in love on the road. While a road romance can be effective under many circumstances, in this instance the only characterization we get of the two is of Winona as an excited young girl and White Shadow as a man filled with hate. Winona does her feisty thing by hurling insults and trying to escape and Night Shadow does his dark brooding thing. Suddenly, he has a nightmare, she comforts him, and she starts to feel an attraction to him. This happened too quickly and was not believable.
Once they were in love, however, the characters did come alive. And the love scenes were tremendous! No shrieking virgin here, just a young women and man learning about loving one another. I eventually found my self waiting for Winona to break through White Shadow’s wall of hate so that they could have a future together. Unfortunately, everyone else in the book was flat, one-dimensional, and unbelievable. The evil bad guy was just so evil that you knew he could not be redeemed. Everyone was there to serve a purpose, whether they were characters from previous books or new characters waiting for their own books. And all the loose ends tie up too neatly in a nice, little bow.
On balance White Shadow is an average read. The book’s scenic descriptions are beautiful; each setting is described in vivid detail. And I liked the author’s depiction of Native Americans in their natural settings loving and loving together. There is no clichéd warring or scalping and once the two characters stop posturing and become real, the story sails along. But a lack of strong secondary characters, and primary characters whose initial behavior is frankly generic and lacking in originality is a major drawback.