Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Review- Nashoba's Hope by Moondancer Drake

Nashoba’s Hope
by Moondancer Drake
April 15, 2009
Historical/ Paranormal/ Lesbian/ Interracial
67 pages PDF- $3.75

Buy it Shadowfire Press

The sins of the past and desires of the present collide for two women caught in a war between their people.

Nashoba is a shifter, a warrior with the gift to take the form of both woman and beast. She is also the last of her tribe after smallpox killed everyone she ever loved, including her wife and sons. Now gathered together with other shifter kin, she battles to make a home for them all, and to seek revenge on the white soldiers she blames for the death of her family.

May came to America in the wake of her sister's death to look after her brother-in-law and their farm. May is working to find a place far from the European universities she was buried in, a task she fears is as hopeless as finding love. A nighttime attack on her brother by a mysterious Indian woman threatens to undo everything May has ever known. In the wake of the attack, May finds herself inexplicably drawn to the woman responsible for it.

Is there hope for these two women to find common ground coming from worlds so far apart, or will deep-set hatreds and old wounds doom them and their people to a bloody war no one can truly win?

Nashoba’s Hope is a nicely written, very sweet story about two women from completely different worlds coming together from a mutual attraction and an unspoken understanding of each other.

Nashoba, a Native American, is trying to find out about a local White farmer’s intent on her people when she sees that he’s actually a soldier. He happens upon her and points a gun. Feeling the rage of all of her personal loss, Nashoba attacks him but is stopped by a White woman, May, who shows no fear. There’s something about May, her eyes, her strength, her lack of fear that Nashoba is mesmerized by so she stops trying to kill and runs off.

Nashoba tells her clan, the medicine woman and head warrior, what has happened and the head warrior becomes enraged. Nashoba should have killed him. Nashoba explains that there was something special about May and that she thinks May is a special “White” woman, which of course the clan does not believe.

May, an Irish woman who went to live with her brother-in-law after her sister died, felt that spark of understanding between her and Noshoba and explains to her brother-in-law that Nashoba is a shifter just like him and his clan. He is from a clan of European shifters, although as a man, he can only be a carrier of the gene and not become an actual shifter, so she convinces him to not go after Nashoba.

In the meantime, Nashoba hovers around May’s farm as a wolf and saves May from a drowning one day, bringing May back to her teepee to have the medicine woman heal her. Hiding her from the others, she takes care of her until she’s conscious. May feels a strong connection to Nashoba when she wakes and sees kindness in her eyes even though she’s a bit afraid. When Nashoba kisses her, for the first time in May’s life she feels that spark of energy and love that she’s thought she yearned for with a man, but has never been able to find.

I really enjoyed this book. I haven’t read too many, if at all that I can recall, stories about Native American shifters. So I enjoyed this book for the uniqueness of it. It wasn't only that. This is a story that had many interesting levels to it. It’s a love story, a first experience story, and it’s a story about how love can cross cultural boundaries.

Nashoba is a very spiritual person who follows the beliefs and ways of her people. She’s suffered a lot of pain at the hands of White people. People who’ve killed her wife and her sons as well as her family. But she’s able to look past the skin color and feel that May is a person who “gets” her and that she is special.

What I liked about this part is that the author Moondancer Drake didn’t take the racial and cultural differences, especially as we know the history of what really happened, and turn it into a political statement in general. It’s just Nashoba and May’s reality of living during that time and it was kept on a very human level. But it did give a good backdrop for conflict that they have to overcome as two women attracted to each other, which I liked.

I also thought that Moondancer Drake wrote May’s first experience with a woman in a very beautiful way. May’s an individual. She’s always been a bit different, independent, not like other women, and even though she’s thought about marriage and such, she’s never found a man that inspired that spark of love in her and she was thinking that she’d be a spinster all her life.

When Nashoba kisses her, it’s like for the first time she becomes alive. It’s a very soft and sensual experience for May and was realistically written, I thought. I got that May is surprised by her reaction but also that she understands that it’s all OK and she doesn’t judge it, but goes with it.

The story leaves off with an HFN as May is still going to live with her brother-in-law having made a pact with the women to not say anything about their camp. I would have liked to see where that story went, but felt satisfied that all might be good.

I really liked Moondancer Drake’s style of writing and that she managed to write a full story giving enough character background to understand them and tell their story in a full and engrossing way. I’ll definitely look for more of her work.

Sex rating: Damp Panties—This is labeled as an erotic romance, but the language used and the way the sex was written was more poetic than erotic in terms of specific language. There’s really only one sex scene and it was written with a cross between somewhat purple prosey and graphic language. Almost like Moondancer Drake didn’t know how graphic she wanted to get or how she wanted to write the sex scene and vacillated between lightly sensual and erotic. I thought it was very sweetly written but it wasn’t written in a way that got me going in any way.

Grade: B+


kirsten saell said...

I might have to give this one a try, despite the shifter angle. Why, oh why can't I bring myself to embrace the love of the shifter? WHYYYYYYY!!!???

MB (Leah) said...

Kirsten, despite the fact that I do like, or don't mind the whole paranormal/shifter craze as opposed to you, in this book it felt very right mainly because it's about Native Americans who traditionally have shifter lore in their history.

Long before the romance shifter craze, I was into Native American themed stories that had their version, shape shifters, in them.

So it worked in a more natural way in this story. It's also not a huge part. The main thing in this story is Nashoba and May's comging together.

kirsten saell said...

Oh, that does sound okay. I think I will give this one a go. :)