Jennifer Blake is one of my new favorite authors. I don’t know I managed to miss her all this time but luckily for me Sourcebooks is reintroducing several of her novels. Blake’s Fierce Eden is just the kind of American (French?) historical romance that I just love to devour.
Elise Laffont, a widow at age 25, is perfectly happy on the French Louisiana frontier. She loves her land on the edge of Natchez Indian territory and has worked hard to build it into a self-sufficient home despite the naysayers in Fort Rosalie who would like to see her remarried. When the Natchez strike back at the settlers, razing the fort to the ground, as a matter of blood vengeance, she and a handful of others know they can’t escape Natchez lands without being captured or killed.
Reynaud Chevalier, a half-breed (part French, part Natchez), desires Elise above all else. When his generosity in leading the survivors of the Indian uprising to Fort Natchitoches is questioned he switches tactics and offers his help for a price, not knowing that his price demands far more than he could have expected. He demands that Elise must share his bed furs and be his companion along the way (something considered a Natchez mark of hospitality) or he will leave them behind to manage on their own.
What he doesn’t know is that Elise’s dead husband sexually and physically abused her leaving her terrified of the male species. When it’s made aware to him on the first night, Reynaud knows above all else that he wants to shelter her and love her and cure her fear of men… so he draws on his Indian background where the men await on the pleasure of the women and commands her to touch and explore him while he remains wholly passive. A feat that nearly undoes him and this is only the beginning. There is so much more to this story.
Blake is a master of research and description. Her settings are lush, her details into the lives of colonials and natives rich and as accurate as humanly possible with conflicting sources of information, the supporting cast of characters are fully realized, and the romance between Reynaud and Elise is tantalizingly delicious. They must face a lot to be together on both sides of the equation and the results are explosive. This is definitely going on my favorites shelf!