BURNING SKY by Lori Benton ~ a review

Burning Sky 2

BURNING SKY by Lori Benton is a captivating historical epic novel set in the post-Revolutionary War era. This debut novel won the Grace Awards 2013 in the Action-Adventure/Western/Epic Fiction category. The novel’s historical accuracy is obvious, as well as the author’s knowledge of the Native American tribes then living in New York State. The author’s expressive prose paints a vibrant picture of life at that time. This novel would be a valuable addition to any homeschooling curriculum.

Ms. Benton moves the characters from one element of the story to the next with great skill. The author did a superb job when Burning Sky, who had been captured as a young lass by northern New York State tribes, returns home to her family’s cabin and transitions back to thinking and speaking more and more in English as she tries to resume her former identity as Willa Obenchein. She is stunned to find her family’s cabin empty, abandoned, and in disrepair. She’s even more stunned to find some have called into question her parents loyalty to the colonial-cause during the war. She’s a woman caught between two worlds. Though not surprised when some settlers treated her with open hostility, it instills fear in her and increases her wariness. She is the type of character the reader cares about from page one.

Willa has experienced a number of losses throughout her life, most significantly, the death of the two children she bore to her deceased Native American husband. She is determined to guard her heart and keep it closed to avoid getting hurt again. However, hard she tries to shut herself off from emotional entanglements, she finds life will have its way.

The characters, even the secondary and minor ones, feel believable and authentic to the period. Many of whom bear deep and painful scars due to the brutal battles on the frontier, with both the British and Americans having committed atrocities. This is a multi-faceted novel presenting a story of bitterness, suspicion, and determination that turns into one of love, forgiveness, and restoration.

Neil MacGregor and Joseph Tames His Horse, two very different men, with dissimilar strengths, both devout Christians, vie for the love of Willa/Burning Sky. The portrayal of Neil’s strength through his deep faith was done superbly, without even the slightest hint of preaching, and was organic to the story. The author does a marvelous job keeping the reader guessing how this love-triangle will turn out. The villains are not stereotypes, but rather are well fleshed out. One of them skillfully and horrifically manipulates events. While his younger brother, who has developmental challenges, is a touching character crafted with depth. I highly recommend this book to readers from age fourteen to one-hundred and fourteen.

Grace Awards Winner: WALKS ALONE by Sandi Rog, a review

Walks AloneWALKS ALONE captivated and mesmerized me at times. No wonder it won in the Grace Award 2012 Action-Adventure/Western/Epic Fiction category.

This is a well-written epic novel beginning in Holland and ending in the old west. Loved the way it opened with the tenderness of Anna’s widowed father aboard ship. It was hard not to get involved in the father’s dream of traveling to Denver City with seven-year-old Anna to start a new life. Unfortunately, Anna’s father falls ill in New York City and passes away and she is left in the care her father’s brother for six terrible years. The scenes with Anna’s abusive uncle were brutal and fully engaging. After Anna escapes her uncle, she travels westward by train, and finally joins a wagon train where she’s not well treated. There is a fascinating, though not explicit, bathing scene in a river, where an exhausted Anna allows herself to relax and find relief from the intense and life threatening heat of the prairie. When half-breed Jean-Marc comes upon her with a small band of angry-braves, the reader is caught between instant knowledge of the hero’s strong attraction to her and the extreme danger she’s in and is hooked. Anna is taken by this brave’s strange blue-green eyes and can’t help wondering how it is that he speaks English better than she does. Ms. Rog understands Native American life in that era quite well. I appreciated her attention to the details of Cheyenne tribal life. She did an excellent job of showing the anger and murderous rage of the braves as well as the prejudice of the settlers and their inability to see Native Americans as people, which led to Indian massacres.

Both Anna/Walks Alone and Jean Marc/White Eagle are flawed and well written. White Eagle’s poetic declaration of how his love is so large and encompassing that he sees and hears Walks Alone everywhere, even in the wind, was superb. He tells her of his pain at having caught her engaging in conversation with his sworn enemy, the man who led the deadly raid against his tribe. Through this, the author conveys how painful it is for Father God to witness His children engaging with idols. Beautifully done. Touches the reader at a deep spiritual level.

My only problem was with Anna’s continued insistence on finding herself and her pulling away from White Eagle after their Native American marriage is consummated and then again after his poetic declaration of love. I’m not sure such personal enlightenment was high on the list in those days. However, the author did manage to sweep me back into the story. Then the story would move on and carry me through thrilling bandit attacks, chilling raids on White Eagle’s tribe by a rogue Cheyenne warrior and his band of braves. A fantastic read, which I highly recommend.

GA Winner 2012

Amazon/Kindle. http://amzn.to/16s2OYu

Barnes & Noble/Nook. http://bit.ly/16xnGzf

 

GOODBYE NOEL and BURNING HEARTS Final in the Grace Awars 2011

I’m honored to have two novels final in the Grace Awards 2011 and I’m deeply appreciative of my loyal readers who took the time to vote for my stories. I have the best readers ever, I’m sure.

GOODBYE NOEL finaled in the Suspense/Mystery/Thriller/Romantic Suspense category.

Historical Romantic Thriiler ~ bodies piling up, kidnap, a warm love story.

 

 

 

BURNING HEARTS finaled in the Romance/Historical Romance category.

Historical Romantic Thriller ~ A sweet love story, arson/murder, action.