Carrie, a disillusioned bride, is forced to rent a prisoner to clear a field for crops. Orphaned when her family was killed in an Indian raid, she was then given as a wife to pay off her adopted uncles debts. Constantly abandoned by her gambling husband, she has learned to do for herself. Her last chance at survival is in raising corn, but after she is injured she considers her friends wild idea to lease a jailbird.
Jonah Longshadow is unjustly imprisoned, but a man born of mixed Indian blood doesnt fare too well in the white mans world. Once an elite Kiawa warrior, he is now treated lower than a dog. His dreams of owning and breeding horses are stolen by anothers lies. When the white woman hauls him to her poor home in chains, it takes the last of his pride, but he knows escaping her will only ensure his death. Forced to endure, he is stunned when she shows him unexpected kindness.
As the work progresses, they each learn that the other is valuable and where there was only prejudice, passion now grows. Not only is her cornfield nearing completion, two small boysorphans of tragedyarrive and become members of their eclectic family. Carries hope has grown into real promise, until her deadbeat husband returns and demands that Jonah race one of his horses.
To keep Carrie safe, Jonah agrees. It is only the start of tragedy, for both Jonah and Carrie will be betrayed by greed, cruelty, and a lifetime of lies. Only their forbidden love will enable them to triumph.
Nearly gothic in its dark, quiet drama, this record of tw o peoples survival compels the reader with its unmistakable thread of hope. Carefully woven to prove that the human spirit can endure outrageous injustice, it also reaffirms that while love may not heal everything, it certainly makes it bearable. SWEET (Mar., 350 pp., $5.50)