by D.K. Lange
Westwood Books Publishing

"If one does not have pride in their heritage, they might as well be the product of someone."

Alexander Smithon, a working physician in London, has succeeded to his father's business. Friends with the royal court and of marriageable age, Alex can't help but think of a young woman who was his father's patient six years ago: Angelina Haveland, a half-English, half-Native American who had been rendered blind due to a kidnapping and abuse incident. Angelina, or Shadow Dancer, is in London running an inn. She is trying to secure her rights to her father's estate, Rosehaven. A princess back home in America and a healer in her own right, she is up against her half-brother Randolph, who seeks to claim the property for himself. An audience with Queen Victoria leads to a chance encounter between Alex and Shadow, who quickly become reacquainted. Fighting their feelings for one another, they set forth a plan to help determine Shadow's claims to her father's estate and her place in England. However, these won't be turned over without a fight.

Set in 1860s England, the story operates within the old-fashioned traditions and ideas of that time in a clever manner, throwing an inheritance issue and a matchmaking plot together in an unexpected way. There's something very Austen-like about Shadow Dancer using her wits and intelligence to deal with suitors and claim her estate, while also highlighting her own cultural practices and heritage. The emphasis on Shadow Dancer's roots is important to the story as it gives a broader context to how women, and especially women of color, were viewed in the mid-nineteenth century. Still, it does not fetishize her as an exotic Native American woman.

The romance between Alex and Shadow is one of the important plot points in this book, and the author does a great job of keeping the feelings and tension between the two of them alive and electric throughout. There are mutual respect and desire between the two of them that carry over into their daily interactions, as evidenced in their individual approaches towards medicine, for example. As a Native American healer, Shadow's work is much more connected to natural remedies. Alex, on the other hand, relies on the scientific medical knowledge of the time that he's learned. However, the two of them apply their knowledge to work together, as shown when Shadow and Alex heal their mutual friend Nick from his spasms. The respect for each other and their practices crosses over into desire. It is clear they are in love, and their surrounding friends conspire to make their growing relationship permanent. For example, when Alex airs his grievances about Queen Victoria's matchmaking plot to Hawk, Shadow's guard, the Native American man offers up traditional courtship information from his tribe.

In addition to building the relationship between Shadow and Alex, the author also takes great care to build upon Shadow's relationship with and the history of Rosehaven, her future home. The author not only solidifies Shadow's connection to Rosehaven but even echoes it. Shadow discovers a journal of the prior inhabitants of the estate before her father, learning that their relationship is one that is similar to the one between her and Alex. The use of the journal in the plot helps to add a layer of history and makes Shadow and Alex's relationship seem not so unprecedented. It also makes Shadow's claims of heritage that much stronger. A romantic example of historical fiction that spans continents and cultures, this novel is a dramatic, exciting read.

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