19 November 2009

Excerpt Thursday: Carol Ann Didier

This week on Unusual Historicals' weekly feature, Excerpt Thursday, we're featuring a sample from Carol Ann Didier's latest romance from Kensington, NAVAJO NIGHT. American Indian romances used to be much more common, but now we definitely classify them as unusual! Join us Sunday when Carol Ann will be answering questions and giving away some choice goodies, including a signed copy of NAVAJO NIGHT.


JoAnna Lund and her father are risking everything to settle safely out west and leave their tragic past far behind. And as a lone rider blocks their trail, they are prepared for trouble. But from the moment JoAnna locks eyes with the tall, proud Navajo brave, she feels an irresistible, dangerous desire...


Notah Begay wonders why the young woman and her father have ventured so deep into his people's territory. But he is fascinated by JoAnna's gentle spirit, and her honesty sparks a passion that his carefully-guarded heart can't deny. And nothing--and no man--will prevent him from claiming the woman who has made him hers forever...

New Mexico Territory

The warrior sat astride his pinto pony overlooking the valley. The wagon traveled slowly and tortuously over the rocky, parched terrain below him. Had the travelers been looking up they might have seen him silhouetted against the clear, blue sky--the hair of both horse and man blowing in the breeze that caressed the higher elevations. In the valley, no breeze moved at all. It was only hot and dry.

Where had these people come from? Spirit Talker wondered. The man had a woman with him, so maybe he was not hostile. Why were they on Dinétah, Navajoland, and where did they plan to go? There were no white settlements out here. The nearest town where the bilagaanas lived was the Spanish settlement of Santa Fe.

He decided to follow them awhile to see what they did and where they camped for the night. Perhaps then he could discern their ultimate destination or plans.

So opens the story called NAVAJO NIGHT about a Navajo Holy Man and a preacher's daughter from Civil War Virginia. Later in the story, JoAnna dares all by confessing her love to Notah.

"Notah, I have a question to ask you. We've known each other for almost three years now and in all that time, you have not mentioned your wife or whether you ever intend to take another. May I ask why not?"

Notah was taken aback. Where had this question come from, and why now?

"JoAnna, I am surprised. Why should you want to know this thing?"

Taking a deep breath and gathering her courage, she answered, "Because I am falling in love with you, and I want to know if you could love me back?"

It was like an arrow shot right into his heart. How did he answer that?

He took so long to answer that JoAnna began to feel like a fool and her eyes filled with tears of humiliation and heartbreak.

The Navajo believe that tears have words, and her tears were speaking loudly to him right now. They spoke of hurt, pain, injustice, compassion, and of her love for him and his people.

"JoAnna you cannot mean this. I am Navajo. You are bilagaana. This is forbidden among your people."

JoAnna asked him, "Does love have a culture or color, Notah? Everyone laughs and cries in the same language, is it any different with love?"

For all her casualness in their friendship, JoAnna doubted she had concealed her true feelings from him. She knew she loved him with all her heart. If he could not love her back, perhaps she could convince him to just let her stay near him and his family and she would be content with that.

Notah felt a surge of joy within his heart. Her declaration of love left him breathless and cracked open his hardened heart a little bit wider. He could barely stand the hurt in JoAnna's eyes. She had no idea how easy it would be for him to love her--indeed, already did love her. But it went against everything he had vowed. Besides that, he had nothing to offer her even if he did declare his love.

"You should stay with your own people, JoAnna. Find a man among them who will love you and give you children."

"Your people have become my people. I cannot go back to the greedy men and narrow-minded, bigoted women of my race who cannot see beyond the color of a person's skin in order to judge their worth.

"All I'm asking is that you just let me stay near you and help with the children and old ones. You have given my life purpose and direction. I've learned so much from the Diné. The will to Walk in Beauty; the grace to accept things that cannot be changed and still go on...to strive to bring Harmony out of this hell-hole here. You have awakened all the feelings a woman should have for the man she loves. I never thought I would experience them because I'm considered an old maid now by my people because I have not married before this."

Then sighing audibly, she added, " No one would have me anyway with my deformed foot."

Notah's heart turned over in his chest. She thought she would be rejected because of a foot turned inward; that no one would see the beauty of her spirit, her face, her skin, her hair, and her tender sweet ways.

"Ah, JoAnna, a scar of the body cannot wholly destroy beauty. Only a scar on the spirit can do that. You are lovely by anyone's standards. And you are still young; you have plenty of time to meet someone."