Welcome to Wednesday Writers! Today’s guest is Colleen Hall, author of the Inspirational Historical Romance Wounded Heart. Colleen is sharing some of the research she discovered while writing this sweet romance. She’s also included an excerpt from the book. Welcome, Colleen!
While doing research for Wounded Heart, I learned that life in the West during the Indian Wars was complex. During that time the possibility of white women being captured by the tribes was a reality, and my research unearthed a wealth of information on the topic. The subject fascinated me, and I felt that it deserved recognition, so I decided to explore that scenario in my story.
Not all of the tribes treated their white female captives the same. A female captive could expect to be raped, often multiple times. Some women experienced horrific violence, while others were met with kindness. Some white women were kidnapped to replace a Native American family member who had been killed by white men and were adopted into the family in place of the dead relative. Other white captives married into the tribes and had families while adopting the tribal culture. Sometimes the women were considered to be slaves.
In white society, husbands admonished their wives to reserve the last bullet for herself to prevent capture. For white women, taking their own lives to prevent a “fate worse than death” was considered the decent thing to do. Submitting to a Native American man put a white woman in the same category as a prostitute. Although not all communities adopted such a censorious attitude toward rescued white women, the Victorian sentiment that a decent woman would take her life before submitting to a Native American man pervaded the West. Women who were recovered from captivity usually had difficulty assimilating back into white society. Many never made the adjustment, and some ran away to return to their Indian husbands.
Shane’s mother is a composite of all the captured white women whom I learned about in my research. I felt that her story should be told. Della’s experience as a captive in the Cheyenne camp tainted her in the eyes of many white people. I enjoyed portraying her fighting spirit to overcome the stigma.
By Colleen Hall
Della Hughes longs for adventure and for freedom from the strictness and austerity of 1870s Boston society. When her uncle and guardian, General Clint Logan, uses his fortune to purchase property in Colorado and set up a horse ranch selling remounts to the western army, Della decides she must accompany him and his family to the West. Along the journey, Della encounters more adventure than she bargained for.
Rustlers, Indians, and rattlesnakes add danger to the trek. A persistent cavalry captain who believes that Della would make him the perfect wife and a Cheyenne chieftain’s son who tells her she’s brought sunshine to his heart complicate her life. And the handsome army scout who ramrods their wagon train guards a secret from his past that makes him believe that he’s not worthy of loving Della. She must meet the challenges of the West and convince the man of her heart that love is worth risking everything to gain.
An air of impenetrability settled over him. He appeared to have reached the limits of what he’d allow her to question. Still, Della’s curiosity prompted her to push for one more inquiry. “Mr. Hunter, I can’t help but wonder . . . why haven’t you married?”
He swung his head toward her. “I’m not a marryin’ sort of man,” he said, his tone gentle.
“Surely, you must want a wife and a family.”
“Not all of us are so fortunate as to have such a blessin’. My life isn’t one that I can ask a woman to share.”
“You do us women an injustice. Not every woman would shirk a life with you.”
Hunter smiled, a regretful smile that pulled at the corners of his mouth and tugged at Della’s heart. “You’re very kind to say so, Miss Hughes, but you have no idea of what a life with me would entail. I can’t ask a woman to endure that sort of hardship.”
Della shook her head and started to protest, but Hunter reached out and covered her lips with gentle fingers.
“Shh . . . There are things about me you don’t know or understand that make it impossible for me to marry.” His hand dropped to his side.
“But . . .”
“No more questions. Just accept the fact that I can’t marry. I came to terms with my lot in life a long time ago.”
Want to read more? You can find Wounded Heart at Amazon
About the Author:
Colleen Hall wrote her first story in third grade and continued writing as a hobby all during her growing-up years. During her teaching days, she taught a high school writing class. In Wounded Heart, she was able to combine her love of writing with her love of history and the West. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and family, horseback riding, reading, and browsing antique stores. She lives in South Carolina with her husband and family, one horse, and three very spoiled cats.
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