When I was a teen I was deeply fascinated by the Native American culture. Two of my favorite books were Dee Brown's Buy My Heart at Wounded Knee (that I searched for a bit since when I was young the Italian version of that book was out of stock) and a book who tried to tell from a different point of view the spanish "Conquest", and for this reason the title was 2941 (1492 on the other verse). Unfortunately they were never light books, since it's not easy to write of the Native Americans and be light, there is so little joy in that period for them. More when you think that most of the tribes were peaceful like the Dinè (Navajo). For this reason I like this book, since it didn't take with lightness the matter, but it gave also hope to the story of the two main characters.
William Lee, ex southern son of a preacher, left his home in disgrace after that his father found him in a barn with a young male friend... and it was obvious that they were not only friends. With some luck from his side (or maybe not after he realized in what he ended up), he became apprentice for the Indian Agent at Fort Summer, only to find out that the previous Agent is vanished and he is now the new Agent. But this is not the only surprise for William: he went in the Indian reserve believing to find almost a lost paradise, where the Native Americans are leaving in peace and prosperity, thanks to the unselfish help of the white men. And instead the reserve is more or less a detention field, and the Navajos there are slowly dying from starvation, since there is no way for them to farm the land or the herd the sheep. And if they are not dying from natural causes, they are killed from the soldiers who instead of take them safe, are using them as personal play things.
Probably William didn't arrive at the reserve with noble idea of being a saviour, even if a bit of his father's lessons probably still are inside him, but now that he is there, he can't help to feel sympathy for this people, even more since among them he meets Hasbaa, a Two-Spirits, a man who has inside him also the spirit of a woman. Hasbaa considers himself a widow, since he lost his warrior's lover and to show his grief he chose to wear only as a woman and to renounce to all the physical joy that he can find with another man. Since no one among the Native Americans treats him in a different way or looks at him in a strange way since he dresses like a woman, no one outside the reserve knows that Hasbaa is a man. William is deeply surprised, but also fascinated, to see that there is a way for him to love a man, and live happy. I don't know if William decides to help the Native Americans to have a chance with Hasbaa or if he really wants to help them, but in a way or another, William makes his the right of his new people.
As I said, I like this book, because, even if faithful to the story, it's not a sad book. It was really an easy ready that will make happy the history lover as well as the romantic reader. I believe that Hasbaa is a really historic accurate character, and even if he is a very good romance hero, he still remain faithful to his time and period. This good blend between history and romance probably is due to the good mix of the two authors that arrive from different origins, but come together to write a very moving but at the same time tender book....Continua