Dancing on Coals by Ellen O’Connell

Blurb:

After escaping robbers intent on murder, Katherine Grant says, “I jumped from the frying pan into the fire. Before long I’ll be dancing on the coals.” The highwaymen were the frying pan; the handsome young Apache who saved her from them was the fire; and the coals? Gaetan. Rage against the enemies of his people has consumed Gaetan from boyhood. The only use he ever found for any white was to test the sharpness of his knife. Forced by his brother to endure Katherine’s company, Gaetan tries to deny what he sees – the white woman has a man’s temper and a lion’s courage. She has an Apache heart. In spite of hate, distrust and fear, surviving in the rugged country of southern Arizona and northern Mexico forges a strange bond between Katherine and Gaetan. When the bond turns to love, can they admit it? Can they bear the consequences?

RHL Classifications

Historical Romance
American Frontier
Heat level 2
Reviewer Rating 5 stars/ Top pick

REVIEWED BY JILL

Gaetan is an Apache, his parents killed by whites. He and his brother, Nilchi were raised for a time in the white man’s world. Gaetan has never been fully accepted by the Apache and so lives by his own rules and beliefs. His hatred of whites is all-consuming. Until he meets Katherine Grant. She has pride and a temper, but she’s fearless and independent.

Katherine Grant’s unconventional upbringing amongst five brothers and her father, and with no female influences, sees her travelling alone across the Arizona Territory in 1881. When her stagecoach is attacked by bandits and the other passengers killed, Katherine is rescued by the young Apache, Nilchi. When his elder brother, Gaetan sees that not only has Nilchi saved a white woman but that he intends to take her with them, Gaetan is furious.
Although I loved and admired Katherine, for me this story was Gaetan. Ms O’Connell has allowed this strong, silent alpha to stay true to character to the end. This wild, untamed man never makes an abrupt and unrealistic character change so often seen in romances. He doesn’t become all gushy with emotion once he falls for Katherine. His initial hatred and his harsh and unresponsive interactions with her, yield during the course of the journey to their happily-ever-after. But he never loses his identity. The remote, somewhat emotionless man always remains. Katherine knows this and accepts Gaetan just as he is.As expected of this talented author the historical details blend seamlessly with the romance.Few authors write Native American historicals these days. Which is a shame since NA romances are one of my favourites. This excellent Native American historical romance has made it onto my DIK shelf with a select few other titles. Highly recommended.

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