Into the Wilderness
This, the first in a planned series of novels dealing with the westward expansion of the United States, begins in 1752, shortly before the French and Indian War. Noah Wilde is a British spy sent to infiltrate the French army. En route to report his findings to his superior in Virginia, he encounters a group of Indians menacing a young woman, Jessica Matthews. He saves Jess but is wounded. As Noah recovers at the Matthews homestead, he and Jess fall deeply in love. With her parents’ blessings, they make plans to marry. But first he must fulfill his duty by going to Virginia and reporting what he knows. Of course, nothing goes as planned.
This is historical romance with equal emphasis on both. It is light, easy reading, though some scenes are not for the squeamish. Bittner compensates for the story’s lack of depth with taut action scenes and characters who are instantly likeable. Also noteworthy is that while the Indians are depicted as cruelly savage, they possess an underlying dignity and purpose, traits which she confers on neither the French nor the British. My primary difficulty with this novel is not, surprisingly, the presence of clichéd phrases like “she loved him with every fiber of her being,” but that it ended in the middle of the story. I would have been much more satisfied if it came to a logical stopping point.