Book Review: In Your Arms by Merry Farmer

inyourarmsLily Singer has never belonged. Taken from her tribe as a child and raised in a white man’s school, she no longer has a place in either world. Teaching has become her life. When that life is threatened by rumors and prejudice after a string of robberies, she must turn for help to the one man who spells disaster for her carefully ordered existence. Will he save her or steal her heart?

Christian Avery, Justice of the Peace, is used to having things his way. Cold Springs is his responsibility, and when its citizens blame the local Indian population for the mysterious robberies, it’s up to him to restore order and maintain calm. The one person who refuses to follow his lead is the beautiful, native-born Lily. Her defiance turns his life upside down and ravages his heart.

But when town gossip shifts from robberies to romance after a foolish indiscretion, Lily’s job and reputation are on the line. She must choose between the only life she has ever known and the only place she has ever felt at home, in Christian’s arms

Given to me in ebook format by the publishers in return for a review.

Set after the American Civil War, and when, in principal, whites and people of colour should be living together happily with no bitterness or recriminations.

For those people of colour – especially those from the Native Indian tribes – the reality is different, with racism, fear and hatred being confronted every day. Lily Singer is a school teacher, who has previously worked in Chicago, but is confronted with reality of living in Cold Springs. Pale enough to almost pass as white, she doesnt know what tribe she belongs to, having been brought up in a white school from a young age. Being from an Indian tribe however, she is effectively a non-citizen, so has learnt that she not wanted or belonging to anyone, certainly not a tribe, and definitely not her country.

She meets with Christian when he steps in during a school yard fight between white kids and local Indian children.  Her defences are up so high that his confidence, apparent and different world view irritates her, but she recognises there is a chemistry between them. However, there are robberies around town that are being blamed on the Indians living outside of town. Suspicion is also placed at Lily’s door in a case of guilt-by-association. It’s not long before an unknown Indian man from out of town is in the city jail, having been accused of the latest robberies, despite having only just got off the train. Army friends of the chief bigot arrives in town and makes himself unpleasant with his insinuations and assumptions.

Meanwhile, Lily cant escape the sphere of Christian’s arms, and soon the two of them have begun a (fairly explicit) sexual relationship.  Things come to a head, where Lily is placed into a situation where her job and reputation are on the line, and she needs to make a decision of who – or what – she places her faith in.  It’s then that she gets to find out who her friends are, and that perhaps she belongs in more places than she ever gave herself credit for.

The dynamic between the two leads is good, the sex scenes are not for the prudish, some of the secondary characters are fleshed out well. The ending is left as a bit of a cliff hanger, but hopefully the story has been set up to allow the reader to come to a satisfactory “what happens next” ending.  This is not a section of history that is covered much in mainstream fiction, especially where it covers the nature of mixed-race relationships. I dont remember anyone actually having issue with Christian and Lily being together, more just a case of Lily’s presence in the town in the first place – but perhaps that’s another story.

 

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