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Far from Paradise



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Success Stories

by Bren Yarbrough Bruhn

paradise.jpg

ISBN 1424124263

PublishAmerica, 2006

304 pp, paperback

Retail price $24.95

This is a delightful story that is well plotted, visually descriptive with well-drawn characters. There is something for everyone in this story: history, romance, pathos, suspense and humor. The history of Florida and the Seminole Indians is factual, interesting and enlightening. As a history buff I particularly enjoyed revisiting the wars between the US and the Seminoles. The romance was strong and relied heavily on the "it takes three logs to build a fire" philosophy of that genre only occasionally resorting to pseudo tough-love tactics. The sad plight of the American Indians and the unfortunate orphaned heroine's villainous guardian/uncle grabbed this reader's empathy. The heroine slowly recovering from amnesia allowed a tolerance for the author withholding the facts of her past. The reader was effectively hooked to read on in suspense to discover the secrets of her past life. The humor was handled as a natural and integral extension of the romantic theme.

The story begins with a bloody Indian versus Cavalry battle in Florida in which a beautiful young lady of European ancestry is knocked senseless and savagely bloodied. She is the only survivor, left with only warriors, one of whom speaks English and immediately claims her as his own with brutal, physical passion. He, Grayson, a half-breed Seminole, is the hero and his motivation is to save her from the fate of a captive woman at the hands of the others who would rape and then scalp her. She assumes he is merely another savage warrior although he was only acting as an interpreter. Thus the tale begins with fractious, angry, physical love. The story moves between his civilized southern home and his sojourns into Seminole territory where he tries to help the Indians and interprets for the Cavalry. The author's description is excellent, particularly of the visual. As a native of a nearby and similar region I know if sound (of insects) and smell (of pluf mud) descriptions of equal quality had been added the reader would have been completely transported to the Peace River Valley.

A love triangle with Grayson's best friend and housemate occurs and leads to quite vivid and satisfying love between hero and heroine. Wherever she and Grayson go there is always another of the opposite sex, white or Indian, who is attracted to one of this beautiful pair which makes for passionate, flaming romance. Make no mistake: this is basically a torrid romance. My only question is: Is illness and sex a good combination? Added to the suspense is the knowledge that her guardian will kill her rather than have her married to a man he hates. The US soldiers, interested or not, are forced to seek out the remaining Seminoles and destroy them. With Jordyn living among the Indians at times the suspense is increased.

The picture of Indian life is remarkably accurate in many ways. My usual disclaimer: proudly I claim a smidgeon of Native American ancestry. The portion least familiar for me was the hate portrayed between the races but that may be unique to my ancestry. I think race conflicts are a more modern concept than an actual occurrence of the mid-nineteenth century, the time of this story.

The weak portion of the story was the ending. I wasn't ready to forget the remaining characters at that point because they had become too real to me. Though I'm sure that was the Epilogue's purpose it did not compensate for that fact. I find this is often the case in stories with believable, interesting and sympathetic characters. An enjoyable story.


Open Book

Review by Nan Seal