One night I dreamed of a woman named Suzanna. A woman of the south, her expectations for a life of ease with the man she loved disappeared with the first cannon shot over Ft. Sumpter. The Civil War began and stole her beloved Jason along with the men of countless other women of her time.
Clothed in grief from the loss of her parents and fiancé, she served as a skilled nurse for local doctor, Jullian Hilliard, treating soldiers returning from the conflict until the end of the war. By then, death had decimated the male population of the area. There was little hope Suzanna would marry and have the home and family she ardently desired.
Enter friends, Annie and Nathan Cantrell. Suzanna needed a husband; Nathan’s brother needed a wife. At Nathan’s behest, his brother, Jake, traveled from Wyoming to Alabama to meet the woman the Cantrell’s swore would be the perfect mate. Jake had no intention of falling for the lovely Suzanna, and she wasn’t exactly enthusiastic about him. But common sense and necessity prevailed, and she hesitantly agreed to become his wife.
I fell in love with Suzanna as a character, and could imagine how difficult her decision would be. Alone after the war, there were no prospects for marriage among the community at large. All the young men had been killed or damaged, were too young or unacceptably old. What was a woman to do? In those days, a woman alone lived a hard existence. Poverty, loneliness, easy prey for unsavory men. Marriage was as much a practicality as the result of mutual attraction. She really had no choice.
I could imagine how it would feel to give oneself to a stranger, no matter how attractive or appealing. To leave one’s home and friends, travel to a part of the country entirely different from the one to which you were accustomed. That first touch, first embrace, first introduct
ion to married life – all with someone you had known for a short time. Learning to trust and live in harmony with a man who had
honed his fortunes from nature and Indians. Nothing about the character of Jake was easy. Spoiled, prideful, he ruled his domain with an iron fist. The learning curve was quite the adjustment for our Alpha male, but his softening heart and growing need for Suzanna changed him into a fiercely loyal husband determined to safeguard his wife and their home.
The fact that Suzanna, a great beauty, other men stumbling at her feet didn’t help Jake’s jealous streak. When the Lakota warrior Black Hawk appeared and wanted her for himself, both Suzanna and Jake faced the true state of their relationship and fought for their future against all odds.
Suzanna, woman of strength and beauty. Independent, outspoken, necessary to all who knew her. What’s not to love about a woman like that?