This book has been reviewed by Focus on the Family Thriving Family, a marriage and parenting magazine.
Lael Click is the daughter of a famous Kentucky frontiersman, Ezekial Click. The reader first meets her as a spunky 13-year-old girl standing her ground with several Shawnee Indians who have come to her family’s secluded cabin. Over time, she grows into an even more independent young woman of 21 — living on her own and finding love. Her three suitors are each rugged and interesting in their own ways. Simon Hayes is the feisty, redhead brother to Lael’s best friend, Suzanne.
Captain Jack is a Shawnee Indian who was kidnapped as a white child by the Shawnee and now better relates to the Indian culture. And finally, there is the Scottish doctor Ian Justus, a recent immigrant to Kentucky. Each plays a big part in the different stages of Lael’s story. Simon captivates her as a young teen, but Lael’s father does not approve of Simon and ships Lael off to finishing school in Virginia to squelch the budding romance.
Captain Jack is captivated by Lael as a 13-year-old beauty, but doesn’t become a serious contender for Lael’s affections until she returns to Kentucky from school after her father’s death. However, cultural differences, as well as the many Indian wars in the region, keep their mutual attraction to a steamy swim in the creek. Ian Justus, the doctor and Scottish Lord, wins Lael’s affections and is able to lead her to a saving faith in Jesus.
Several characters love and cherish their relationships with the Lord. Ma Horn, the old herbal healer, spouts Scripture and is often found reading her Bible and praying. Ezekial Click, Lael’s father, was raised a Quaker. Ransom, Lael’s younger brother, comes to a faith in Jesus as a young teenager and speaks to Lael of his conversion.
Lael’s friend Suzanna and her husband, Will, are believers. Ian Justus is a Christian; he often prays, reads his Bible, witnesses and is known for his Christian beliefs, one of which is refusing to marry or court anyone who is not a Christian. Prayer brings healing to a young girl. Lael reads the Bible she inherits from her Uncle Neddy and prays for God’s guidance and forgiveness. She eventually does give her life and love to the Lord. The children are taught to follow biblical truths, including kindness to others, truthfulness, temperance and love.
The Shawnee religion is mentioned but never explained. Many at the fort and many settlers are either thought to be or known as unbelievers and live worldly lives.
Lael’s father is the family head and strictly obeyed. Lael’s mother is seen as weak and unable to control her young headstrong daughter, yet is still respected as an authority. Colonel Barr, the top man at the fort, has strict military control over Fort Click and is seen as a community leader. Lael learns to follow the rules at Briar Hill, the finishing school where she is sent. She obeys her father and stays at the school.
There are numerous instances of graphic violence, especially between the Indians in the area and the settlers: Pa was kidnapped by the Shawnee and lived with them for several years. Indians massacre the Cane family. Only one daughter, Piper, escapes, but she is bloody and traumatized. Hugh McClary shoots Pa in the thigh.
There is an Indian attack on Fort Click. Many people die from gunshot wounds or arrows. One man dies from a tomahawk to the head, which cuts off a good portion of his face and skull. There are several accounts of Indian attacks and deaths of settlers, typically found with arrows sticking out of various parts of their bodies. Lael helps Ma Horn dig lead shots out of several wounds.
There is an instance of child abuse when a widow’s male visitor, Hero McClary, arrives drunk to her cabin and physically pummels her son, Titus. It is inferred that the same man raped this woman, as she is later with child. Lael finds Hero’s camp and shoots a hole in his still. Hero burns down Lael’s barn. It is inferred that Captain Jack retaliates for an Indian death and Lael’s barn by killing both Hero and his brother Hugh with arrows.
There is a fistfight, of which we are only told of the bloody, face-altering results, between Ian and Simon, presumably over Lael. There is a smallpox outbreak where many people die. Some of the descriptions of those affected are quite graphic in nature.
Lael’s mother, believing her husband, Ezekial, is dead (when he has really been kidnapped and is living with the Shawnee) runs off with Ezekial’s brother, Neddy. That results in the birth of Lael’s brother, Ransom. Simon and Lael share a nighttime boat ride that excites romantic feelings in both of them.
Captain Jack and Lael enjoy a swim together in the creek. Both are scantily clad. They kiss passionately several times. Ian and Lael share a passionate kiss when they both declare their love for each other and agree to marry.
The theme of Christian redemption is strong throughout the book, however the frequent and graphic episodes of violence have more emphasis than Lael’s conversion.
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