Before I get to the review, I think it's important for me to note that this book is *probably* not one that most of my regular readers would pick up. Keowee Valley is a secular historical romance novel, and it includes more explicit content than the books I normally review here. I found out about the book through an author friend who commented on how she had started her ARC of the book and was really enjoying it. This prompted me to request an ARC of my own, which Katherine Scott Crawford graciously provided. My author friend later e-mailed me to warn me of the sexual content she came across as she continued reading, which helped me know that there would be several scenes to skip along the way.
While I'm uncomfortable with the extent of the sexual content in this book, I still found it to be an intriguing and well-written historical romance. If edgy Christian fiction sometimes steps too far for you, or you generally read only Christian fiction because you prefer "clean" reads, then I wouldn't recommend this book to you. But if you occasionally read secular fiction and you enjoy historical romance, then read on...
Here's a description of the book from Goodreads:
"Spring, 1768. The
Southern frontier is a treacherous wilderness inhabited by the powerful
Cherokee people. In Charlestown, 25 year-old Quincy MacFadden receives
news from beyond the grave: her cousin, a man she’d believed long dead,
is alive—held captive by the Shawnee Indians. Unmarried, bookish, and
plagued by visions of the future, Quinn is a woman out of place… and
this is the opportunity for which she’s been longing.
to save two lives, her cousin’s and her own, Quinn travels the rugged
Cherokee Path into the South Carolina Blue Ridge. Defying her furious
grandfather and colonial law, she barters for leverage against the
Shawnee with a notorious Cherokee chief—and begins building a daring new
home in the Keowee River Valley, a fiercely beautiful place.
in order to rescue her cousin, Quinn must trust an enigmatic
half-Cherokee tracker whose loyalties may lie elsewhere. As translator
to the British army, Jack Wolf walks a perilous line between a King he
hates and a homeland he loves.
Together they journey across the
Appalachian Mountains and into the heart of Cherokee country. They
encounter wily trappers, warring Indians, British soldiers, desperate
settlers, and a contested backcountry on the brink of changing forever.
Jack is ordered to negotiate for Indian loyalty in the Revolution to
come, the pair must decide: obey the Crown, or commit treason…."
Imagine an independent young woman eager to build a home for herself on land that is both achingly beautiful in its wildness and freeing in the familiarity it breeds. Imagine a community composed of those of all different ages and all different backgrounds - all looking for a refuge and a new start. Imagine a place where visitors come and go, danger lurks in the woods, and the sheer grandeur of nature astounds. Imagine a place from which to embark on a life-changing adventure. Imagine a place to long to return to after facing the uncertainties of new frontiers and a society on the brink of chaos.
Welcome to Keowee Valley.
Wonderful imagery and characterization combine to make this pre-Revolutionary War story a great read. Quinn is an interesting heroine who has dreams/visions of future events. She is very independent, very strong (in some ways), and very caring. Not only does she leaves Charlestown in order to find her cousin, but also to buy land from the Cherokee where she and others can build homes and share the responsibilities of caring for the valley.
We meet many interesting characters who decide to take Quinn up on her offer. We also meet Jack Wolf, a tracker whom Quinn sends in search of her captive cousin. The characters are endearing and intriguing, from the settler's children who look up to Quinn to Jack's tall and silently protective brother, Ridge Runner. The whole cast makes Quinn's adventures and endeavors engaging to read about.
Back to Jack... He's the sort of hero one would expect with this sort of novel, with his own unique quirks and handsome traits. He is the son of a Cherokee man and a white woman. He has dark blond hair and green eyes, an Irish accent, and a warrior's build. Yes, romance is inevitable in a story with a pretty, stubborn heroine and a hero like that!
Regarding the romance, I offer a caution. There is sexual content in this story, including a few "bedroom" scenes. The way the story is divided up into scenes, I'd say it's fairly easy to skip over the explicit content without taking away from the gist of the plot. However, even being aware of this content and determined to skip over it, it's easy to still come across some references to nudity (etc.)... So, just realize that, while this is historical fiction and not entirely focused on the romance, the romantic element is heavy.
Keowee Valley is epic as it shares Quinn's dreams and the obstacles she, Jack, the Cherokee, and the colonists have to face as war looms. The plot contains a lot of tension and interesting events, but the nature of the story makes it more of a slow read. And the ending... Let's just say that while there is resolution in some ways, many questions remain. For those looking for an imaginative and romantic fictional snapshot of the pre-Revolutionary War era, with an emphasis on the characterization, you might consider visiting Keowee Valley.
*With thanks to the author for providing me with an ARC of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*
Note: I read an ARC of the book, so any edits made to the final version of the book that were not in the ARC would not be taken into account in this review.