Friday, February 14, 2020

Book Review: The Navajo Family Blessing Series by Cheryl Reavis

By Kristy McCaffrey

I’ve previously reviewed One of Our Own by Cheryl Reavis, but now that I’ve completed the entire series, I thought I’d put all the books together in one post. This series features contemporary Navajo culture in the Window Rock area. Since I lived for a year on the Navajo reservation when I was nine years old, I can appreciate the time and care that Reavis took in researching the setting and beliefs of the Native Americans. She gets it right, and so much more. Please don’t be deterred by the old covers. My guess is that despite these books being decades old, Ms. Reavis has been unable to gain the rights back, so her hands have been tied as to updating and labeling the stories (it took some digging for me to identify which books were in the series and in which order they should be read). As an added bonus, I’ve included an additional book (by a different but no less talented writer) that also features a Navajo hero.

One Of Our Own
Book 1

Sloan Baron has come to Navajo Country to see her estranged brother, who is in critical condition after a car accident. She already has been caring for two of his children, and now she learns that he has a third child, a young half-Navajo boy named Will. As she navigates the mess her brother has left behind, she finds an unlikely ally in Navajo Tribal Policeman Lucas Singer. Together, they try to unravel the laws regarding children on Indian Reservations. They also fall hard for each other. This is such a wonderful book! Ms. Reavis has created well-rounded characters that you’ll love and root for and cry over, along with a peek into the traditions and beliefs of the Navajo people. This is a story that will stay with you long after it’s ended. Moving and deeply romantic, I highly recommend.

Meggie’s Baby
Book 2

This story features Meggie Baron, Sloan’s niece, who was a child in the first book, and her love for Jack Begaye. The story begins with their estrangement, but the bond is still there. However, Meggie has gotten pregnant by another man, and although she didn’t love the father, this is a hurdle that she and Jack must overcome, as well as the custody issues by the grandparents of the unborn child. This is an engaging and emotional read, with wonderful details about the Navajo and their culture.

Mother To Be
Book 3

The heroine in this tale, Lillian Singer, is older sister to Lucas from Book 1 and in her forties. Wanting to carve an identity away from the reservation, she became an attorney and works out of Albuquerque. But family draws her home to Window Rock, and she’s tasked with getting Tribal Police Chief Johnny Becenti out of his self-imposed exile after the death of his wife. Lillian and Johnny have a history of not getting along, but that’s about to change. This book really got to me, as I didn’t expect to love these two as much as I did.

The Music Box
Book 4

When Eden Trevoy learns from her archaeologist mother she was adopted, and that her father was Navajo, she’s drawn to Tribal policeman Ben Toomey to learn more about her heritage. But when she discovers the true identity of her father, her world is turned upside down. To say more would ruin the surprise, but through it all, Ben and Eden can’t help but fall for each other. Another wonderful love story set against the backdrop of the Navajo culture.

Medicine Man
Book 5

The last installment in the Family Blessing series features Will Baron, who was the child involved in the custody issue from Book 1. Now a paratrooper stationed in North Carolina, he’s awaiting orders when he meets single mom Arley Meehan. The timing couldn’t be worse, since he’ll be leaving soon and she’s in a custody battle with her ex. Will, half-white and half-Navajo, had trained to be a medicine man, but is now at a crossroads as he faces the legacy of his father, Sloan’s brother, a man he never knew. This story didn’t have quite the sparkle as the others, and I think it was because it didn’t take place on the reservation but rather in North Carolina. But several of our favorite characters show up, so it’s a fitting end to the series.

If you enjoy stories with a Navajo hero, don’t miss this bonus read!

Coyote Dream
Jessica Davis Stein

Sarah Friedman has come from New York City to the American Southwest to buy Indian art for her family’s store. When her car breaks down, she finds herself in the company of Ben Lonefeather, a solitary Navajo with a great talent for sculpture and pet coyotes he's raised since they were pups. While waiting for the parts to repair her vehicle, she falls hard for Ben. But after a whirlwind affair, she returns home believing that she and Ben could never really be together. Their differences—she’s Jewish and he’s Navajo—are simply too great. This is an epic love story that I had trouble putting down. A sad side note: this was the only novel Ms. Stein wrote before passing away a few years ago. It’s a shame, because it’s quite simply incredible.