On impulse, she jumped to the ground. “I’ll go anyway,” she muttered. “Eat nuts and berries and live in the woods.”
“Will you go alone?” a low voice asked.
Sucking in her breath, she whirled around. Less than twenty feet away, grasping his musket, stood a tall young brave. Stripes of red and black paint blurred his striking features. His dark brown eyes riveted her in place. This warrior was like no other and the most savagely handsome man she’d ever seen.
God help her. She should flee now, but could only stare, open-mouthed. She swept her disbelieving gaze over the loose black hair brushing an open buckskin vest that revealed his bronzed chest and shoulders molded into contours of muscle. An elkskin breechclout left a great deal of his hard thighs exposed. Despite the dread hammering in her chest, a fiery blush burned her cheeks. But it was the sheathed knife hanging on his left side and the lethal tomahawk slung on his right that snapped Charity from her near-trance.
In a rush of memories, she recalled the stories of her father’s death under the scalping knife and neighbors who’d suffered the same violent fate. No Indians had been spotted in their settlement since the Shawnee grew hostile and war had erupted nine years ago, but the warfare had ended. Hadn’t it?
Clenching ice-cold fingers, she dug her nails into her palms. “What in God’s name are you doing here?” she forced past the dry lump in her throat.
Red Bird’s Song (release date 9-10-2010) is the story of my heart for many reasons. The initial encounter between Charity and Wicomechee at the river was inspired by a dream I had on New Year’s Eve–a highly propitious time for dreams–about a young warrior taking an equally young woman captive at a river and the unexpected attraction between them. That dream had such a profound impact on me that I took the leap from writing non-fiction essays (by hand back then) to historical romance novels and embarked on the most amazing journey of my life. That was years ago and the saga continues. I also met the prophetic warrior, Eyes of the Wolf, in another vivid dream at the advent of this adventure, so when I describe him in the book I’m envisioning a character I feel I know.
The setting for much of Red Bird’s Song is the same as Through the Fire, the spectacularly beautiful Alleghenies. Much of the history and events depicted in the story were inspired by accounts I came across while researching my early American English/Scots-Irish roots and the Border Wars. Most of you have heard of The French and Indian War, the time period in Through the Fire, but there were others. (Chief) Pontiac’s War followed on the heels of the French and Indian and is the time frame of Red Bird’s Song. Lord Dunmore’s War took place a decade later–all occurring in the colonial frontier.
Actually, life in the frontier was continually unsettled up through and even after TheAmerican Revolution had drawn to a close and warfare a reality. The boundaries of the frontier just kept shifting farther west.
In the early-mid 18th century, the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia was the frontier and only hardy souls dared settle here. The bulk of these were the tough Scots-Irish. I think if the Indians had only had to fight regular British troops they might ultimately have won because they scared the s_ out of men trained for conventional warfare, but the long knives were another matter. They weren’t easily intimidated and soon learned from their cunning enemy.
Although Hawk Eye in The Last of the Mohicans is an adopted Mohican, his lifestyle and behavior is that of a colonial frontiersman. The more rugged of these men dressed as he did, much in the Indian way. They hunted & fought with muskets, tomahawks, and their famous knives. Indians acquired these knives as well. They blended traditional weapons and ways of living with new found tools and weapons of Western man. A highly adaptable people.
The attack at the opening of Red Bird’s Song in the Shenandoah Valley is based on one that occurred to my ancestors at the tail end of Pontiac’s War and is recorded by Historian Joseph A. Waddell in The Annals of Augusta County. A renegade Englishman by the last name of Dickson led the war party that attacked them. Initially I’d intended to make the Colin Dickson in Red Bird’s Song a villain but as soon as he galloped onto the scene I knew differently. He’s now one of my all time favorite characters.
Wicomechee, the hero in Red Bird’s Song, is based on the Shawnee warrior by that name who lived early in the nineteenth century and to whom I have ties. The Moffett’s, an early Valley family I’m related to, include a reference to him in their genealogy. Wicomechee’s father, John Moffett, was captured in Kentucky by the Shawnee at the age of eight and adoptedinto the tribe. It’s said he was a boyhood companion to the great chief Tecumseh, a chief for whom I have enormous admiration. The accounts of John Moffett and Wicomechee are recorded by Waddell. It’s also noted that during the Black Hawk Wars Wicomechee recovered the captive daughters of a Dr. Hull and brought them safely into camp, which reminds me of Hawkeye in The Last of the Mohicans. I’ve included more on this amazing warrior at the end of the novel as a bonus for those who read it.
Charity, the heroine in Red Bird’s Song, is drawn from a reference I came across of a young Scots-Irish woman captured along a river in the Virginia frontier. Remember, early Virginia was enormous. Augusta County, near where I live, encompassed present day states and was later sectioned off. Nothing is known of what happened to that young woman. Just a single line in an old account of captives taken during the Indian wars.
The same sort of capture and subsequent lack of information occurred to the sister of my great grandmother a number of greats back. Both of these women may have made new lives with the Indians. There are records of women who married into the tribes and did not want to leave their warrior husbands and adopted people. Tragically, some those captives who wished to remain were later forced to return to their white families through treaties, causing great heartache. There are also accounts of captives who couldn’t get out fast enough! One such captive was Daniel Boone.
Charity’s cousin Emma in Red Bird’s Song is based on the young, very pregnant wife carried off in that original attack. In the actual account it’s uncertain whether or not her husband survived his injuries. His last name was Estelle, as it is in the story, and we have early Estelles in our family tree. However, that name is no longer common in the Shenandoah Valley but has vanished into the mist of time along with a mostly forgotten era and its people. Few remember or care. Perhaps you will come to.
James, the little boy in Red Bird’s Song, is drawn from the lively child taken in the original attack who lived to tell about it and did so with great relish. He’s also modeled after several high spirited little boys I’ve known and loved. James is a tribute to my young nephew, Matthew Trissel, killed in a farm accident, and my youngest daughter Elise’s close friend, Garry Keens, killed by a drunk driver. Wonderful boys, gone before us but never forgotten.
Although Eastern woodland Indians had a reputation for brutality, once a captive was adopted they were well treated and regarded as equals. Warriors were unpredictable and didn’t always behave in a certain manner any more than all European men acted alike. Warriors could be unexpectedly gentle or sadistic. I’ve read accounts of braves getting up in the night to stir up the campfire and cover captive women and children with blankets, even delay their journey while a woman gave birth. These men protected and fed their captives while other warriors burnt them at the stake. It all depended on who took you captive and why as to what your fate would be, and whether they kept, traded, or sold you. Or killed you in retribution for a love done lost at the hands of the English. Of course, some braves didn’t take captives. Just scalps. The warriors most feared in the Shenandoah Valley were the Shawnee, regarded as the fiercest of all. The more I studied these remarkable people, the more engrossed I became, especially as they figure into our family roots.
The sources I used in researching Red Bird’s Song would take up pages, my list of reading material sizable, and I’m indebted to the long suffering anthropologists and archeologists who answered my many questions and supplied me with research materials, also helpful reenactors, historians, and historical sites. Most of all, I’m indebted to my own forebears. Without these hardy souls, their faith in God and determination to forge a life in the New World, I wouldn’t be here. Neither would many of you.
Beth Trissel's "Red Bird's Song" could be considered a Native American romance by some, but I view it as a thoughtful and sensitive portrayal of the romance between a man and a woman from two cultures during the early days of the British colonization of the New World. Anyone interested in America's formative years will get a history lesson not related in dull facts, but as a personal story between two people in love from different worlds . The characters put the reader in their past, in their conflict and drama, as the passion between them flares, while love and trust grow, showing that the destiny linking these two souls can not and will not be denied.
~Amazon Reader Review by RebelHeart
rousing romantic adventure will reward lovers of history
Charity Edmondson flees the prospect of an unwanted marriage to a childhood friend only to become the captive of a Shawnee warrior. Once her life becomes entwined with that of the handsome and passionate Wicomechee, her destiny becomes one with the proud Shawnee. Her family and friends have suffered great losses at the hands of the Shawnee tribe, and Charity has a great fear of her Indian captor and his clan. However, his patience, honor, and surprising gentleness soon show Charity that there is more than one side to the conflicts between the Shawnee and the settlers and their army. Wicomechee claims Charity for his wife, and she soon carries his child. They face many perils on the journey to the lodge of Wicomechee's grandfather, and their enemies are numerous and varied in their harmful intent. The man Charity once feared becomes the man whom she cannot live without, and the two of them forge an undeniable love and unbreakable bond. When the truth of Wicomechee's true heritage is revealed, many lives are changed and the future becomes uncertain. Will the bravest of warriors leave the life he has always known to protect the woman he loves more than his own life? With "Red Bird's Song", Beth Trissel has painted an unforgettable portrait of a daring and defiant love brought to life in the wild and vivid era of Colonial America. Highly recommended for lovers of American history and romance lovers alike!
Review by Virginia Campbell
From Night Owl Romance
Reviewed by: Laurie-J
Charity, along with a few others, is taken captive during an attack by Shawnee warriors on the Shenandoah River Valley settlements in Virginia during the Fall of 1764. Wicomechee hates the English settlers who have invaded his people’s hunting grounds. He is steadfast in his determination to fight against their ever-increasing numbers and hinder their progress ever westward. But when he spots the fiery-haired, spirited young woman meandering among the colorful autumn leaves he knows that she is the treasure he has been promised.
This is a beautifully written story filled with adventure and suspense. I became fully invested in the lives of the characters as the story unfolds at a fast pace. The author kept my attention engaged, and my mind spiraling trying to predict the next direction the story would take as the myriad of secrets were revealed. There were times when I, too, felt like shaking some sense into the impetuous young Charity but then she would quietly give her explanation, defending her actions, and my heart would just melt away to goo - her reasons were always so honest, sincerely innocent, and utterly believable.
The author weaves a story of deep complexity. The descriptions of life among the nomadic tribe are simply without parallel. It is difficult to explain how deeply touching I find it to be. In the Afterward, Ms. Trissel confides that her ancestors settled in the Shenandoah Valley and that the family records document that some relatives were killed in Indian raids and others were taken hostage and later adopted into the tribe. It seems clear that this story is exceptionally well-documented historically. I found it to be entertaining, thought-provoking, and educational. This book touched my soul even as it provided a thrilling fictional escape into a period of history I have always found fascinating.