Raised in the wilds of the Virginia frontier, Tessa Swan yearns for flounced petticoats, imported spices, and all the trappings of civilization in far-off Philadelphia. Cooking and cleaning for five brothers seems to be her lot in life, however, and ever since the Indian raid that killed her father, the Swan siblings have kept one eye on the forest and one hand on their rifles at all times.
When Colonel Clay Tygart, hero of the French and Indian War, comes to the nearby fort, he brings with him a blond-haired beauty that Tessa thought lost forever. Keturah, Tessa’s childhood friend, stolen away by the Indians over ten years ago is back in body–but does her spirit long to be with her new family from the Lenape tribe? As Tessa tries to help Keturah remember her old life, the question is raised: who exactly is the “uncommon woman” of the title? Is it the Indian captive, Keturah, pulled between two worlds? Or is it the plainspoken but compassionate Tessa, determined to do right by her mother, brothers, and friend?
As Tessa learns more about Colonel Tygart, she discovers that his upbringing parallels Keturah’s in far too many ways. Raised by the Lenape himself, his unique situation gives him the ability to mourn the injustices on both sides of the fighting between the settlers and the Indians. But at the same time, he has powerful enemies in the tribe he deserted, enemies far too close for comfort in the woods around the Buckhannon.
Amid the Indian sightings and festival days at the fort, Tessa and Clay forge a bond that makes Tessa question what she wants in life–is this buckskin-wearing Colonel worth giving up her dreams of town living?
This book was a slow starter for me. Despite the continual tension of the Swan family’s proximity to danger, the story meandered along without too much happening. The West Virginia setting came alive like its own vibrant character, but the plot felt like a lot of back and forth from the homestead to the fort to the homestead again without a clear trajectory of what was going on (kind of like real life!).
Once Tessa was kidnapped by the Lenape (this is not a spoiler since it’s in the book description!), the pace radically changed. Clay swung into action, showing why the Lenape considered him their best hunter and why they now had cause to fear him. This was my favorite part of the book and made the slow lead-in worth it.
As is typical with Laura Frantz’s books, the story doesn’t end with a wedding but explores more threads beyond a happily ever after. Even though I would have appreciated a little more structured plot, I really enjoyed the frontier setting and the descriptiveness of this story.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.