Between Heaven and Hell
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Publisher: Jacqui Nelson (2014)
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The year is 1841 when nine-year old Hannah watches the murder of her family by drunk white renegade men. She’s was found by native Americans and taken in. Thrust into a new and unfamiliar life that will challenge and change her forever. But over a decade later, a tragic event has left her on the run from the tribe she grew accustomed to and now she must find a way to make a living on her own.

She and her trusted horse travel to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas – in other words, Hell – where she hopes to find a job. With the skills she learned from living with the tribe and her dead eye skills with a gun, she’s hoping to land a scouting job. There, she meets Paden Callahan, a seasoned traveler and military man who is looking for a replacement for his current scout, Dawson.

After being taken at such a young age, Hannah finds it better to be strong and live independently than take up a typical woman’s profession. Hannah has honed her shooting skills and has an aim better than most men, which astonishes everyone and angers those she bests. But, despite her skill and strength, Callahan still isn’t too sure a woman can handle the tough trail life and also isn’t too sure he can control himself around a woman this beautiful.

With little options to choose from, Callahan reluctantly allows her to come, but they both discover there are more dangers following Hannah than anyone realized.

“Between Heaven and Hell” is an alluring romance that captivates readers in a time period where Pioneers fought for land and Native Americans retaliated in order to keep what was their home. Jacqui Nelson’s characters are multi-dimensional and drift between bridging the gap between the two groups.

Hannah is an inspiring strong woman whose path represents the bridge between Natives and Settlers, and who spends most of the novel struggling to reconcile her two very different identities. Her life with the tribe has helped make her the woman she is, yet many of the settlers she must find a life with are those who do not understand, nor wish to understand, where she came from. Despite her personal battle and the difficulties she faces as a woman on her own, Hannah proves herself to be tough and resilient.

Callahan is also haunted by his past, though it differs greatly from Hannah’s and he fights to understand her and how to help her. The connection that develops between them despite their differences makes their relationship worth rooting for.

Nelson delivers a perfect, steady-paced book with poetic descriptions of romance and easy-to-follow fluidity of Callahan and Hannah’s journeys. Those who love romance and hot sensual scenes, along with the Western historical fiction, will find themselves enamored with this novel.