Night Thunder's Bride

White Eagle's Touch

Wolf Shadow’s Promise
by Karen Kay
(Avon, $5.99, G) ISBN 0-380-80340-2
Moon Wolf and his sister are sent from his Blackfoot tribe in the 1870’s to be educated at Ft. Benton. Since what his sister seems to be learning is how cruel people can be to her, Moon Wolf threatens the teacher and runs away. When young Alys Clayton helps them escape he promises to make her his wife some day.

Naturally, the two meet again later. Alys gets the chance to see the man called Wolf Shadow appear with a wolf at his side and destroy illegal whiskey that is being sent to his people. Wolf Shadow is, of course, the grownup Moon Wolf. Alys realizes he has been wounded and finds him to nurse him back to health.

Now that they are all grown up, of course, they are physically attracted to each other. After some sexual buildup, Moon Wolf makes Alys his wife the way his people always have - with physical intimacy. OK, maybe not traditional wedding night physical intimacy, but physical intimacy nonetheless. He works to make sure Alys will not get pregnant, since he knows that would lead to even more complications for them.

Well, what more can I say? My overall impression is that the hero is noble. Very noble. He is always doing his best for his people and his wife. Unfortunately he is so darn noble he is just a tad boring. What is the heroine like? Moon Wolf named Alys Little Brave Woman and she is brave. Alys sticks up for him in town far more than I suspect most people ever would, but then she is the daughter of a woman that I find more interesting than the hero and heroine - Alys’ mother apparently taught her daughter tolerance because she is a tolerant woman in a town of bigots.

You can understand why Alys is willing to overlook prejudices since Moon Wolf is a hunk, but you don’t ever find out why her mother is the way she is. I’d also like to know how she found out some of the sexual techniques she passes on to her daughter. Oh yeah. I liked the wolf, too. But those were the only two memorable characters.

The plot is fairly predictable. Evil soldiers and white men smuggle in whiskey to Moon Wolf’s people and the legendary Wolf Shadow thwarts them. Nasty townspeople don’t understand what is really going on and continue to say nasty things about Indians. Moon Wolf becomes jealous because his wife has to pretend she isn’t married to him and that she is interested in someone else. Alys and Moon Wolf struggle to find a way to stay married in a world where that is very difficult. The problems do get resolved, but in a less than realistic way. (Mom just happens to come up with the perfect solution near the end of the story. Every man should have such a great mother-in-law!)

Lots of details in the story seem historically accurate but, overall, the main characters and the ending is just a little too good to be true. Adding a little moral complexity would be nice. For example, why is Moon Wolf the only guy to try intercepting the whiskey? Apparently the most aid Moon Wolf gets is some indirect help from his blood brother. I’m not saying the people selling it weren’t wrong, but why aren’t the rest of his people trying to help? Exploring more aspects of that problem or others would have made for a richer, more interesting book.

--Irene Williams

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