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The Covenant (Harper Monogram) Paperback – 1 Oct 1995
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The plot involves Megan McIntyre Hudson, a recently widowed daughter of a U. S. Senator. She has returned to rural Pitchlyn County, Oklahoma, to occupy a house her husband had owned, and to come to terms with her reactions to his death and the death of his sister, and to her own mistreatment, in a South American country they had been visiting for political reasons. Her emotions are complex, because her marriage was mostly a sham, and because her father has betrayed her in his politically-motivated response to the atrocities she witnessed in South America, and because she is only now coming to terms with a lonely emotional life. Unbeknownst to her, her onetime brother-in-law, the estranged husband of her husband's now dead sister, lives in a neighboring house. This man, Jake Kenyon, is a former DEA agent, then local sheriff, who has considerable issues with the current law enforcement officials of Pitchlyn County.
One night Jake hears signs of a struggle at Megan's house, and bursts in to rescue her from an illegal search conducted by the thuggish local sheriff. Thus Jake and Megan, who don't know each other despite being almost in-laws, are thrown together. Soon they find themselves, against their will, forced to try to figure out why people seem to be prowling about their two properties, and why the local police seem to be unduly interested as well.
At the same time, Megan, perhaps as a result of her psychiatrist's urging her to record her thoughts, begins to seemingly "channel" a young woman who lived in Pitchlyn County in the 1870s. Lydia was a white woman in the then Choctaw Nation, in love with a half-Choctaw ex-Ranger named Sam Hooker. Sam has angered an outlaw gang who then kidnap Lydia and rape her serially for several days until Sam can rescue her. This horrifying event scars her permanently, essentially ruining her relationship with Sam, which is already harmed by her hypocritical father's refusal to countenance her marriage to an Indian. Over time, Megan learns more and more of Lydia's story, and the half-parallels between her story and Megan's own story illuminate the contemporary plotline without being a slavish repetition.
The novel works itself out with a solid and suspenseful resolution to the story of Jake and Megan, as they fall in love, and also figure out the mysterious doings on their property, which turn out to have connections to both Jake's past and Megan's past, and perhaps even to the story of Sam and Lydia. The latter story is nicely revealed as well, and is effectively emotionally wrenching. The backdrop of the Oklahoma landscape is also well-evoked. The characters are convincing, and the love story is believable. This is a good example of what a "romance novel" really should be, in my opinion: a good novel on its own that has a solid romance story as a significant thread, as opposed to a contrived romance that drives the plot willy nilly (which I've seen too often elsewhere). Definitely worthy of reprinting.
Jake is on leave from the DEA, recuperating from wounds suffered in a drug-bust gone wrong. His house is just up the secluded roadway from that of his sister; both occupy land where the tumultuous events of 1872 have left their happy spirits.
Although Megan sees and hears Lydia Tanner and Sam Hooker, as well as Liddie's brother Peter, Jake hears only Sam's thoughts, which at first he thinks are only his own longings for Megan. The two stories eerily parallel each other, with their damaged heroines, and unlikely heroes. This is not an easy book to get into, but for the reader who persists, the rewards are more than fulfilling.
(Note: This book was awarded the RITA [from the Romance Writers of America] for best Paranormal Book in 1996.)