Mira, Sep 2004, 6.50, 304 pp.
In 1832 Indian Country, con artist Barbara Chamberlain needs money to help her brother Harry escape from a Bermuda prison. Her mark is wealthy Louisa Morgan, but to get her hands on the woman's loot, Barbara must go through the son, Lieutenant Zach Morgan. Her plan is to persuade Zach that she has a claim on some of his family's land and in turn get him to escort her to Louisa.
The scheme goes awry the moment that Barbara and Zach meet as a great desire hammers both of them. Barbara who has played the role of seductress since she left the orphanage finds herself almost foregoing her brother's plight. Zach who knows she lied from her first breath cannot get her out of his heart so that his brain can take over. As they fall in love, Zach learns Barbara uses seduction as her prime tool in her swindle repertoire, leaving him to wonder how he could have been so stupid into thinking she loves him.
This novel provides a panoramic perspective of 1830s America from the Jackson Ascendancy to the role of the military in Indian Country and finally the plight of the Indians. Though the ending includes a suspense twist that “cleans” up everything too perfectly, the fast-paced story line includes plenty of Americana tidbits interwoven into the plot, but is clearly lead character driven.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner