by Ronda Thompson, historical (2003)
Leisure, $5.99, ISBN 0-8439-5119-2
If the author has not let her main characters do really stupid things, Walk Into The Flame will be a fine Native American external-conflict driven romance. The pace is well done enough to keep me reading. The hero and the heroine, however, sheesh. Talk about a man with self-entitlement issues and his doormat.
Rachel Brodie was once in raised among the Mescaleros and she's in love with the hunky Swift Buck. That is, until her brother found her and Swift Buck let her go, so now she will always wonder, "Why, Swift Buck, why?" Meanwhile, Swift Buck sent her away because he was so sure that she would come back to him once she realized how lousy life outside the tepees is. But he was banking on Rachel to make a decision and act on that decision. As we shall soon see, Rachel is incapable of both. So he waited and waited and waited, to nobody's surprise but his. In the meantime, he married some woman, knocked her up, while always telling me that his heart is forever with Rachel. Or Silent Wind, as he calls her.
Today, Rachel is shocked when she visits the Mescaleros at the reservation and sees Swift Buck being treated like a slave along with the rest of his people. When Swift Buck tries to break free and gain leverage using her, that's when the fun starts in Walk Into The Flame. Lots of adventures follow.
Thing is, Swift Buck is a hard and stupid man for all the wrong reasons. He blames Rachel for things she is obviously too incompetent to pull through, and there are so many instances in this book when he tries to force Rachel into a situation that will endanger her. Since Rachel is as helpless as a blind baby in the middle of the busy highway, this arrogant entitlement Swift Buck displays doesn't reflect well on both the hero and the heroine. Rachel, well, I don't know what to say. Her Grand Action Scene sees her wishing to die because she believes that Swift Buck is dead.
I can overlook simplistic pro-Native American, anti-you-know-who overtones if the story is well written, and to an extent, Walk Into The Flame is a deftly handled adventure story. But the heroine could use some spine while the hero displays very little competence or nobility that he is said to have. Native American romances are infamous for bad plots and sketchily-written characters barely more coherent than simple cavemen, and while this book may be better than most, it won't be bucking the current negative trend anytime soon.
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