This review is of Sweet Prairie Passion, book #1 in the “Savage Destiny” series by Rosanne Bittner.
In 1845, a wagon train is headed from Tennessee west to Oregon. Among those on the train is Jason Trent, a widower, and his three children: daughters LeeAnn, 17, Abigail (Abbie), 15, the heroine of the book and the series, and son Jeremy, 7. The Trent family is leaving Tennessee because the memories of Jason’s late wife are too strong. Later, they meet up with two men who are hired to scout and lead the train, one of whom is “Cheyenne” Zeke Monroe, 25, the hero of the book and the series. The fact that Zeke is half-white and half-Cheyenne doesn’t sit well with everyone on the train, and Zeke faces bigotry from some of the train’s denizens, including some with less than savory reputations.
As the book continues, Abigail and Zeke fall in love, but their love is threatened by his past, bigotry, hatred, intolerance, scandal and tragedy. However, even knowing that the Cheyenne Indians–and the Indian people in general–would be facing tremendous hardship, sorrow and tragedy, Zeke and Abbie fall in love and vow to be together.
I have said this many times: In order for me to truly love a book, television show, or movie, I have to truly care about the characters and feel what they feel. Ms. Bittner makes me feel that as a reader. I felt every emotion of every character, good and bad. Zeke and Abbie are one of the strongest hero and heroine combinations I have ever read. I never felt as though I was reading a book. I felt as though I was watching Zeke and Abbie’s lives playing out in front of me, and that is something that only the truly great authors can make me feel.
As much as I love Ms. Bittner’s writing style, there are two parts of her writing-which happens in every book I’ve read by her-that really annoy me:
#1. Violence Against Women
In every one of Ms. Bittner’s books, the heroine-and sometimes the female supporting characters-are subjected to physical and sexual abuse. In “Sweet Prairie Passion”, for example, Abbie is beaten and nearly raped twice. The violence really doesn’t advance the story.
While Ms. Bittner’s heroines are very strong emotionally, they aren’t as strong in other areas. Once again, in every book, Ms. Bittner places her heroines in some form of peril, which leads to the hero having to rescue them. It reminds me too much of the old “Popeye” cartoons where Olive Oyl is constantly needing Popeye to save her.
Ms. Bittner’s love scenes are descriptive enough to let a reader know what is going on, but not graphic enough to be exciting.
In addition to the violence mentioned above, there are multiple scenes of assault and killing. Most of the violence is not graphic in this book; Ms. Bittner’s later books in the series are more graphically violent.
If one wants to read books to make themselves forget about what’s going on in the world, Ms. Bittner is not your author. However, if you love books which will stir your emotions-good and bad-and leave one feeling like you’ve been on a roller coaster, Ms. Bittner’s books will be your jam.