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A Case Where Finishing the Story Makes a Difference...
on October 12, 2012
Originally published as Dakota Dream in 1991, the story begins with a great historical western premise - the (fictional) niece of Custer is found nearly drown by a Lakota warrior who nurses her back to health. The promising plot fades a bit as he chooses the most predictable method to warm her body - stripping her of her clothing and using his naked body. Most of the first half of this book continues with the same sort of treatment. While much of the plot is fresh, even now, it is given a trite twist with poor dialogue and a very unlikable, spoiled character in the heroine, Dominique Dubois.
However, the second half of the novel seems to have reawakened the storyteller in the author as not only does Dominique become more likable, even endearing, but she fleshes out a much better, noble hero in Jacob. The second half of the story definitely makes up for the slow, moving meandering plot in the beginning (which is why I gave it 3 stars). Unfortunately, many won't make it far enough to enjoy the character development. Not to mention the often confusing changes in point of view, mid-paragraph, where you are unsure whose eyes you are living through.
That said, I have read a few of Ms. Ihle's novels and I know that this is not the best representation of her work (see Untamed for a fun example of her work!) This is her first print-published book (by her own introduction) and she has progressed beyond this amateurish prose, growth that is noticeable from half-way through the novel. There are some stirring moments in The Bride Wore Feathers and a very detailed sense of place throughout helping the reader to vividly imagine the Dakota frontier as it may have been in 1876. Ms. Ihle has obviously done her historical research as well, depicting accurate details of the period, including Lakota traditions and ceremonies.
As a fiction novelist,([...] I know it is hard to separate from the characters we have created and allow the editor in our mind reign to change the story but this is a case where further revisions could have made the first half of the novel better.