Through the Eyes of a Captive by Angela Christina Archer

From the wide open plains of the wagon train, to the secluded village of the Lakota tribe. See how one captive manages to find freedom in the arms of a warrior.

What’s it About? 

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“It is observed that in any great endeavor, it is not enough for a person to depend solely on himself.” ~ Lakota Proverb

They called it a terrible glory and the last great battle for the American West. While the battle of the Little Bighorn was the last stand by Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer against the Lakota tribes, to Lily Sinclair it was the last stand between her old life and her new beginning.

After her in-laws squander away the family fortune, Lily and her husband, Alfred, head out west to the mountains of Montana, the only land available to poor people and far away from the debts haunting them. When a band of Cherokee warriors attacks their wagon train along the way, they kill her husband and take her captive, selling her to a Lakota tribe for the price of several horses.

Widowed Lakota warrior Tahatan has vowed never to take another bride after his wife’s death. However, he soon finds himself forced in a marriage with the outspoken, yellow-haired Yankee who challenges every thought in his head. While his attraction for her grows, so do the tormenting demons of his past.

With Custer’s sights set on the hidden gold in the depths of the Black Hills, the Colonel begins his warpath on the tribe villages. Can Lily overcome the demons of her past and defend Tahatan and his people? Or will she betray them all for the actions against her dead husband, killing someone she never believed she would in the process?

First Impressions

Make no mistake, this is an emotionally heavy read. Our novel opens with Lily traveling west with her somewhat surly husband; the open plains seemingly leading to endless possibilities. It doesn’t take long though before this outlook of hope and possibility drastically changes course to one of violence as a band of Indians attacks this train of innocent travelers. We as the reader knew the attack was coming. It’s outlined right there in the synopsis. What I wasn’t expecting was the ruthlessness of the attack. The author certainly doesn’t shirk away from some gruesome details.

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We start off with the violent death of Lily’s husband, who was unexpectedly shot mid-conversation with a slew of arrows, before being stabbed repeatedly and even scalped. As Lily is captured, we see the brutal ends of her fellow travelers. Men, women, and even children whose throats were slit, or innocent bodies were penetrated by arrows. My initial question as a reader was whether or not the vicious details of such an attack were necessary. Then I realized that while the specifics were undoubtedly painful to read, you must also commend the author for not shying away from the stark authenticity of these kinds of attacks. When these two opposing worlds clashed together, violence like this was a reality. It was a harsh reality, but it was reality nonetheless. Why try to sugarcoat it?

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From Captive to Wife

When Lily is bound and captured, she immediately goes into survival mode. Escape doesn’t cross her mind, as she knows it would be futile. She has no choice but to follow her captors. At this point Lily’s entire life has been thrown into disarray. She just witnessed the slaughter of her husband and the wagon train. She’s been taken captive, traded to another tribe, and forced to marry their strongest warrior, Tahatan. Now, if it were me? I’d be curled up in a ball, shaking back and forth, and wracked by uncontrollable sobbing. For Lily, she learns how to adapt to an entirely new way of life, in a new environment, surrounded by people speaking a language she doesn’t understand. She comes to appreciate the beauty and calm of nature more than she ever felt for the bustling city streets she once knew. Her new husband speaks English, and while he initially admits he never had any intention of marrying again after the death of his first wife, the two eventually come to an understanding of friendship. Which soon blossoms into something more.

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“But that’s all I’ve known here–force. Forced to watch Alfred die. Forced to the ground. Forced to have my wrists tied….Then forced into a marriage. What else would I know?”

You might be asking yourself how it’s possible Lily could come to love another man so soon after the tragic death of her husband. The truth is that by marrying Tahatan she now has the opportunity to reflect on her previous marriage to Alfred. As they traveled the wagon train we saw glimpses that not all was well in their marriage. Lily now starts to question if she every truly loved him, or if it was simply the institution of marriage that she was attracted to. Time passes in this Lakota village she’s come to inhabit with her new husband, and she slowly starts to see the harsh mask of this warrior fade away into one of a gentle and caring person. He teaches her the ways and traditions of his people. They learn to trust each other. To confide in each other. And eventually how to love each other. However, as Lily learns to appreciate this new way of life, and this newfound love with her husband, dangerous forces start to encroach upon her newfound serenity. 

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“I missed having a man around me. I missed having conversations. I missed the assurance someone loved and cared for me, and would do so for as long as he lived. I missed the protection of a warm pair of arms…I missed the comfort of a life shared. I missed marriage.”

Tradition vs. Greed

Enter Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer and his band of soldiers. When the story opened we witnessed a gruesome attack of Cherokee against a wagon train. Now we see the reverse, as government soldiers heedlessly cut down innocent Lakota tribes-people in their villages. Once again, we see the violent slaughter of men, women and children come full circle, and it begs to question what either side is fighting for where death seems to be the only answer. For the Cherokee, the Lakota, and the other tribes, they are defending their homes, their traditions, and their very way of life from the slew of people invading their lands. For Custer and his men? It’s greed. Gold. The loss of innocent lives on either side is unforgivable, but to see the lengths that some men will go to simply for material wealth…it’s a tragedy that brings tears to my eyes even now. To read this fictional romance is one thing, but then to acknowledge that this story is steeped in the harsh truths of history makes these senseless deaths even more poignant.

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For the first times in their lives, both Lily and Tahatan feel whole. Their love is pure, deep, and all-consuming. This becomes particularly evident when the possibility of Tahatan becoming swept up in the ensuing war between tribes and soldiers grows nearer. While Lily feels whole for the first time in her life, she also feels fear unlike anything she’s felt before over the thought of losing someone close to her. When she and Alfred were traveling along the wagon train she knew the dangers and risks of attacks were lurking, but it never crossed her mind what it would be like to lose Alfred; to have to live a life without him. Now that she’s finally confronted with the possibility of losing Tahatan, she is filled with a crippling fear which makes her question if she’d be able to survive if he were to die.

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“And then someone captured me, like a wild animal now in irons. Only, what I didn’t know was that those shackles would lead me to more freedom than I’d ever known or believed I would feel. The freedom of you.”

*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: The Wildflower Women Collection, book 3. Each novel in this series guarantees a strong female lead, and superb writing which will transport you through time into the story.

Final Impressions: This is a heavy, and honestly kind of a depressing read, but it’s an important one. It certainly made me want to immediately research the Lakota, as well as the fates of the various tribes following Custer’s last stand. There was one feature towards the end which blended history with fiction a bit too dramatically for my tastes. We’re also presented with a somewhat open-ended ending that will leave you wanting more. Something I especially appreciated though with this read was the constant juxtaposition between an old way of life versus the new. Just as Lily’s previously urban way of life with her first husband disappeared when she was taken captive, so too is the Lakota’s former way of life disappearing as their lands are increasingly threatened by soldiers. The question becomes, will they too be able to adapt as she did, or will they go down fighting to preserve their traditions?

Smut Level: Definitely some passionate moments between Lily and Tahatan, but nothing overly detailed.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Long Valley Press. 280 Pages.