Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 978-1-61922-102-4
Historical Romance, 2015
Gen Bailey was Karen Kay’s pseudonym back in those days, and Black Eagle was previously published. This particular edition has been “substantially revised and expanded”, according to the publisher’s website. I haven’t read this one before, so it’s practically a brand new book to me. It is a book in Karen Kay’s series The Warriors of the Iroquois, so it involves – duh – an Iroquoi hero.
Now, we open in a time when the French and the English are fighting to see who will own the piece of land we know today as North America. Of course, nobody asks the natives whether they’d like to be bossed around, but that’s just the way things are sometimes. The Iroquois are pretty strong, so both factions want to get these folks on their side. Thrust into the mess is our heroine, Marisa Jameson, who needs help ASAP.
You see, one fine night, she wakes up to some sound in her step-uncle’s house. She decides to investigate, only to end up overhearing that man plotting to burn and raze down a Dutch village – it’s all a plan for that nasty man to seize those lands for himself. The villains who would raze the village would dress up as native Americans, therefore inflaming the racial tension in the neighborhood further. From her loyal maid, she learns that the man may have done this before in the past. He has even taken advantage of Sarah! John Rathbone has to be stopped! She decides to travel with her maid to “visit a friend”, although she plans to actually flee her step-uncle and warn people of his evil.
Our hero, Black Eagle, first meets Marisa when he stops by her step-uncle’s place to have a word with the Governor. They are both taken with one another, but that’s all there is to their relationship. For now. He soon receives a summons from his grandmother to travel north. Some of their people have been taken by the Black Robes, to fight against the rest of their people and the English. He also has to bring back his brother before Gray Fox is dragged into fighting for the French as well. It will be a trip right into enemy territory, but Black Eagle naturally is up to the task. He also learns of Marisa’s need for a guide, and learns that her route is almost similar to his. Despite his reservations (she may get under his skin, oh dear), he is compelled to assist her in making her trip. He can’t leave two women to face the dangers of the journey on their own, after all!
Black Eagle has been warned by his grandmother, but you know how it is. They never listen.
“Keep my advice close to you, grandson, and do not, yourself, become too closely bound to another whose customs are not yours…in your personal friendships and especially in your choice of a woman. Remember who you are—a Pine Tree Chief. Our people are at war and need you, both as a warrior and as a leader. Do not be misled, for you are the best we have, and I fear that if you fail, so, too, do our people. Remember this.”
He also quickly learns that someone is trying to harm the two ladies, and there is nothing like a lovely damsel in distress to get a hero’s blood flowing.
Black Eagle is a very readable story. There is action, the heroine gets into trouble and faints a bit, the hero puffs up his chest and comes to the rescue. Things are rather predictable here, though as what usually happens in stories like this will happen here. The villains are nasty in a hammy one-dimensional way. Still, this is a pretty decent way to spend a few hours, if I keep my expectations low.
However, the romance is a disappointment in how underdeveloped it is. It’s… love at first sight, I guess, as the characters rarely have to explore their feelings after the initial attraction. Marisa is asking Black Eagle to make love to her early in the story (she will never marry, they cannot marry, but she needs that special memory so take her now, baby) and Black Eagle eventually decides that he will marry her, whatever others say be damned. That’s all there is to the romance here. The rest of the story is basically a road trip kind of adventure. I’m not sure how these two are in love even by the last page, so I can only assume that I’m supposed to pay more attention to the road trip elements.
Therefore, you may want to adjust your expectations when it comes to Black Eagle – it’s a decent, if predictable, road trip adventure. The romance is weak, however, so don’t bank your hopes too much on getting a grand one out of this tale.