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One morning, Samantha Turner wakes up a happy seventeen year old on her family farm in Missouri. She leaves after breakfast to help their neighbor care for her sick children. When she arrives, she discovers the house burned and the family killed and abused, presumably the result of an Indian attack. Horrified, she rushes home only to find the same terrible events have taken place there. She escaped only by being between farms when the raids took place.
In shock, she buries her family gathers the few things left by the marauding Indians, then leaves. When she stops beside a waterfall to clean herself and clear her mind, she begins to formulate a plan of revenge. Binding her breasts, cutting her hair and dressing as a boy, she thinks her disguise will keep anyone from knowing she is Samantha. And no one would suspect, except that she was watched as she adopted her new persona of Sam Turn.
Nicholas MacNamee, half Irish, half Shoshone, didnít mean to invade Samanthaís privacy. As an army scout, he was tracking renegade Indians. But when he investigated noise coming from the river and saw a virtual angel, he couldnít force himself to leave.
Before Samantha fires on him to frighten him off, she witnesses enough to know that Nicholas is the most handsome man sheís ever seen. However, she trusts no one. As she recalls details of what she saw at her home, she begins to believe that Indians alone did not kill her family. If white men were part of the group, who were they, and why did they commit such a heinous crime?
Avenging Angel follows Samantha as she tries to uncover who was responsible for the raids on the two farms. Along the way she finds people she can trust and a man she can love. She discovers, with Nicholasís help, who was behind the murder of her family. Finally, she finds that her sworn goal, killing the people behind those murders, may not be all she imagined it to be.
I enjoyed this book very much. The descriptions of the area were rich and the characters were well drawn. Samantha is an independent, self-sufficient young woman, who still needs the guidance of an older woman. The portrayal of her wedding night is touching. Nicholas is an educated, successful man, who nonetheless suffers from insecurity because he is afraid of how Samantha will react to his being half Indian. He knows that she needs to avenge her family before she can put the past to rest, and his goal is to help her do it. In that, he has no doubts about his ability. In winning her love, he isnít as confident.
Avenging Angel has everything a reader could want in an adventure romance. A beautiful, spunky heroine, a handsome, honest hero (actually more than one wonderful man shows up in the story), and characters that are clearly good and evil. Itís like reading an old fashioned western that leaves one with a satisfied feeling at the end, that things worked out exactly as they should have. I recommend this book. It is followed by Double Destiny, which tells of Samanthaís daughter.