This is the first book in the Pine Ridge Portraits series by Stephanie Grace Whitson.
Set in the west during the waning days of Native American uprisings, two cavalry men come upon the grisly remains of a slaughtered white man outside of his burnt out cabin. They are stunned to find a female survivor hidden in the cellar. (We later are introduced to as Laina Gray.) She has been held captive, not by the Indians, but by the deceased man. She is wild, filthy, and nearly insane because of the horrible mistreatment she suffered at the hands of her captor. In a desperate attempt to end her life she nearly succeeds.
First Sargent Nathan Boone, who has suffered a severe loss, the death of his wife, takes her back to the Army post where she is nursed back to health. We learn that she is not only a woman with a past but that she is pregnant.
I applaud the author who successfully avoided the stereo typical western plot. She surprised me in the first chapter with how events unfolded. Other characters who come on the scene also hold their own secrets. Are they villains or heroes at heart? Boone seems the obvious choice for the man Laina will fall in love with, but again, Whitson avoids the expected by throwing other relationships into the mix.It works well.
At the heart of this story is the theme of God’s grace and redemption. Though we may feel we have suffered through unimaginable hardships, even when things look the bleakest, if we remain faithful to him, he will remain faithful to us.
I give this book 4 ½ stars. Well done Ms. Whitson.