Imprint or Line: Zebra Historical Romance
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Native American Romance, Western Romance
Buy on: Amazon, AbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon
TOTAL SPOILER ALERT ⚠
This review is of Autumn Dove by Sylvie F. Sommerfield, a standalone Zebra romance from January 1989.
Starting in 1865, on the Kansas/Colorado border, readers meet Zachary Hale Windwalker. Zach, who is half-white and half-Cheyenne, is trying to discover who is running guns to the plains Indians. This, plus, stirring them up to fight the whites who come into the area.
Meanwhile, back in Washington, D.C., Tara Montgomery, 19, has just lost her parents in a carriage accident. With nowhere else to turn, she decides to go west to live with her brother David, a soldier stationed at Fort Lyon.
She signs on to a wagon train, which Zach is leading. He doesn’t want her there, for several reasons, which are quickly revealed.
As the train makes its way west, Tara and Zach become lovers, but also at odds with each other.
The wagon train makes its way to Fort Lyon, where Tara discovers David isn’t there; he’s on assignment from the Army.
We also learn a bit more about Zach; his mother, Karolyn, who was white, was a teacher. She fell in love with Zach’s father, Waiting Wolf. When Karolyn passed, Waiting Wolf married a Cheyenne woman, Singing Grass, Zach’s stepmother, and they had a son, Little Raven.
Little Raven soon gets into trouble sneaking into the fort. He and Zach are arrested and sentenced to hang. They escape as Zach takes Tara hostage.
Readers also meet Tara’s older brother, David, 25. David has issues he’s trying to resolve in his life as well. He’s in love with a Cheyenne woman, Small Fawn. He doesn’t know how his parents–whom he doesn’t know are dead–or Tara will handle this news.
In the end, the gunrunner is caught. David marries Small Fawn. Tara and Zach have their Happily Ever After.
The best part of Autumn Dove is the second half of the book. It is here that Tara and Zach realize that they love each other and she is able to get him to let go of some of his bitterness regarding his treatment at the hands of white people.
In order to get to the second half of the book, however, one has to go through the first half, and the first half is…meh.
There is no emotional juice here, at all. There is also no character depth or development. Mrs. Sommerfield never made me care about any of the characters, beyond the fact that they were in the book.
It feels very much like Mrs. Sommerfield fell into the “Readers Are Supposed to Care” trap. In Autumn Dove, Mrs. Sommerfield believes “Readers Are Supposed to Care” because:
- Tara lost her parents and has to go to live with her only other relative, David, her brother.
- Zach is hurt by being shunned by whites for being half-white, half-Cheyenne.
- David is concerned about being shunned and his life because he is in love with Small Fawn.
It is possible I COULD have cared about any or all of those things if Mrs. Sommerfield gave me a reason to do so. She didn’t. The ending of the book is highly disappointing, not to mention boring.
Multiple love scenes involving Tara and Zach, and one involving Small Fawn and David. None of these love scenes are exciting, interesting, or hot. These love scenes have all the heat of cold water.
Assault, attempted rape, battery, kidnapping, and “off-screen” killings. The violence is not graphic.
Bottom Line On Autumn Dove
Mrs. Sommerfield tilled this ground-and in a much better way-in her earlier book, Savage Rapture.
Autumn Dove is a major disappointment.
|Rating Report Card|
HATE COLD AS THE WINTER SNOW
When her parents died without a cent, innocent Tara Montgomery had no choice but to head for Fort Lyon to reunite with her soldier brother. The independent miss never dreamed of the journey’s perils – and the worst was her suntanned, buckskin-clad wagonmaster Zach Windwalker. His disdain of women traveling alone infuriated her; his grisly stories of Western life annoyed her. But Zach’s masterful lips upon her sensitive flesh drove her to distraction. Even as Tara swore to dispise him forever, the passionate pioneer was guiding his hands to her buttons, her chemise…and to the wildly beating heart beneath!
LOVE HOT AS THE SUMMER SUNAUTUMN DOVE by SYLVIE F. SOMMERFIELD
Half-breed frontiersman Zach Windwalker didn’t need a tempting morsel like Tara Montgomery in his life – not when he was on the verge of trapping the gunrunners who were supplying the Cheyenne. The virile tracker planned to almost seduce the untouched beauty to scare her back to Washington D.C. But at the moment the strong-willed male should have pushed her away, he pulled Tara even closer. With only the vast plains and distant hills as witness, Zach was as single-minded as the invincible American eagle as he swooped down with unwavering passion upon his unresisting, gentle AUTUMN DOVE.