Friday, October 26, 2012

Reviewing a Reissue: Night Falls Like Silk

Night Falls Like Silk
By Kathleen Eagle
Publisher: Bell Bridge Books
Release Date: 
August 28, 2012
(original publication: 2003)

At nineteen, a naïve Cassandra Westbrook was a college freshman in need of tuition money and hoping to find it in a beauty contest. Edgar Westbrook, one of the judges and a quarter of a century her senior, persuaded her to marry him. Twenty years later, she’s a wealthy widow who enjoys the elegant home, the active social like, and the other perks her money provides. Her only family consists of her sister Darcy, who has a history of making bad choices, and Darcy’s son, Aaron, an artistically gifted, socially awkward twelve-year-old.  She owns a successful art gallery and has a particular interest in Native American art.

Thomas Warrior, aka Thomas Brown Wolf, is the son of an African American father he never knew and a Lakota mother who died before Thomas reached his thirteenth birthday.  Until he was adopted by Angela and Jesse Brown Wolf, Thomas practically raised himself, mostly on the streets. Angela and Jesse’s intervention came too late for Thomas’s brother Stony, who was unable to break free of his drug addiction. Jesse, a cop, was one of the arresting officers when Stony was picked up on charges for which he later served prison time, an act Thomas views as a betrayal for which he cannot forgive Jesse. An artist from childhood, Thomas has made a name for himself, first as a comic book artist and now as a graphic novelist, a career that has proved even more lucrative. He loves his brother, Angela, and his Brown Wolf siblings, but he lives an essentially reclusive life, answerable only to himself. Those who have read Eagle’s earlier novel The Night Remembers will recognize Thomas’s early story in Tommy T, a secondary character in Angela and Jesse’s book.

Cassandra and Thomas first meet when at Sotheby’s in Chicago when they are the only two bidders remaining in the contention for a rare folio of beautifully preserved Native American ledger drawings. Cassandra wins the contest, but the two have made an unforgettable impression on one another. They meet again in the Brown Wolf home where Angela is trying to convince Thomas to mentor Aaron, a student in her school. The sparks of attraction that were struck at that first meeting ignite as Cassandra and Thomas spend more time together, and the two soon become lovers. Their physical intimacy is not matched by emotional intimacy however. Both are intensely private people wary of trusting others. Cassandra is also uneasy about being a decade older than Thomas and not altogether comfortable with their differences; Thomas is reluctant to admit to feelings stronger than lust for Cassandra because to do would give her power over him.

This already complex relationship is complicated further when Aaron disappears. Soon afterwards, the ledger drawings are stolen. It becomes clear that the plot of Thomas’s graphic novel is being carried over into real life. Thomas himself becomes suspect number one. Life mirrors his art so closely that Thomas even doubts himself. Cassandra never believe Thomas could hurt Aaron, but when the drawings disappear, knowing how strongly Thomas felt that they belonged with the tribe, her faith in him wavers. With hope for Aaron’s safety growing dimmer every additional hour he is missing, Cassandra must decide whether she trusts the man who has shared her bed and captured her heart.

Kathleen Eagle is a strong storyteller and a superb writer, and both gifts are evident in this novel. With that said, however, this is not the novel I would recommend as an introduction to Eagle. Reason to Believe, What the Heart Knows, and The Last Good Man are all fuller, more emotionally powerful tales, and any one of them provides a captivating first look into the wonders of Eagle’s fictional worlds. I found Cassandra an interesting character, but I never felt a strong emotional connection with her. The connection with Thomas was much stronger, but since I had read The Night Remembers first, I don’t know how much of my reaction was based on my affection for and understanding of Tommy T in the earlier book. 

My overall response to Night Falls Like Silk is that it was a good read that could have been better had it been several chapters longer and provided more development of the relationships, the heroine and hero’s certainly but also of Cassandra’s relationship with her sister and nephew and Thomas’s with his family, particularly Jesse. Even with this caveat, Night Falls Like Silk is well worth reading. If you’ve enjoyed other Kathleen Eagle books, you should add this one to your list.

Kathleen Eagle has created a superb group of Native American characters in her single titles and in her category romances. Ben Pipestone in Reason to Believe and Reese Blue Sky in What the Heart Knows are my favorites. Do you have a favorite Native American hero?


irisheyes said...

I love Thomas from Kaki Warner's Runaway Brides series. I can't wait for his and Pru's story!

I also think that Catherine Anderson did a good job with Hunter in Comanche Moon.

I imagine that telling a romance with a Native American as a hero and doing them and their culture justice is quite tricky. I picked one up about 20 years ago and it was a DNF for me. Very poorly written and tons of stereotypes. I kind of compare them to the bodice rippers of the 70's. But in the hands of the right author I know the story can be amazing. I have faith in Kaki Warner. :)

One of my favorite movies is The Last of the Mohicans with Daniel Day-Lewis. Unlike most people, I was more interested in the relationship between his brother, Uncas, and her sister, Alice.

quantum said...

I have just started 'The Last Good Man'. Chapter(1) immediately drew me into the story with the youngster chatting to the horseshoe man .... I think I'm going to like it.

I also noticed that Eagle has 2 audio books on audible uk 'This time forever' and 'You never can tell'. I might try one of those in due course if I really like her style.

Catherine Anderson's Comanche series greatly impressed me. I liked the two warriors who married white women and their struggle to reconcile the different traditions.

If Eagle has written similar stories I should definitely take a look!

Janga said...

I love anything Kaki Warner writes, Irish.

Eagle's romances are different from most other Native American stories I've read because hers are contemporary. Her characters are so real that I feel as if I might find them if I looked in the right places. I love her category romances too.

Janga said...

Q, The Last Good Man is wonderful. You Never Can Tell is the story of Kole Kills Crow, whom you'll recognize from TLGM. And This Time Forever is unforgettable. I recommend them all.