MY FATHER'S DAUGHTER

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About

My Father's Daughter is a historic novel of two strong-willed young women who discover they have a sister after their father dies in the late 1800's. Amelia decides she must go and find her sister on a perilous journey into the Blue Ridge Mountains where her Cherokee half-sister lives in order to meet her as well as tell her of their father's passing. Along the way she faces dangerous obstacles, including being stalked by a renegade Catawba Indian. This is a tale of suspense and adventure with a hefty splash of romance tossed in for good measure, plus a few laughs along the way. Authentic Cherokee ceremonies and customs from that era, as relayed to the author by the current Shaman and Keeper of the Flame for the Cherokee Nation. My Father's Daughter takes the reader on a journey through the backwoods and swamps of South Carolina into the Blue Ridge Mountains, as well as into the real world of the Cherokee long after the Trail Of Tears.

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Chapter One

"...and there was John, running away from a black bear cub whose paw he'd pulled free from between two boulders while he was out hunting. The cub kept following John even though he tried to shoo it back home, but the cub wouldn't go. The next thing John knew the mama bear appeared, let out a mighty roar, and reared up on her hind legs. John's horse reared in panic, dumping him on the ground and leaving him stranded. The way John told it, he ran for all he was worth, headed for the nearest tall tree he saw, and scrambled up it as fast as he could. As an added degradation to his already damaged ego there was a beehive in a hollow of the tree trunk several branches higher up on the tree he had climbed. He was literally caught between the bears and the bees." Thomas Hamilton chuckled from the pulpit as he reminisced over a fond memory of his recently departed friend.

"Now, this angry mama bear wasn't about to let John be. First she tried to climb up the tree to come after him, but her huge bulk prevented her from getting beyond the heavily dense lower tree branches between them, forcing her to retreat back to the ground. In her frustration she kept shaking the tree and roaring up at him, almost jarring him loose from the limb he'd been hugging so tight that his marriage vows were in dire jeopardy. And every time she shook the tree the beehive got a little more active with angry disturbed bees buzzing above John's head. The hive was dangerously close to declaring an all-out war." "The whole day passed without any indication that the bear intended to leave. She wandered off every now and then, but didn't go far, and always came back to try to shake John down. Whether the bear wanted John or the honey from the bees, that Mama bear wasn't leaving. John kept quiet and still in the hope that she would forget he was there, but it was almost impossible for him to do because he was continually swatting at bees that were landing on him, making them angrier and causing them to sting him more in the process. In the meantime, Jebediah came over from the stables and told me that John's horse had come back without its rider. Since my son Andrew often went hunting with John and knew his habits better than most, I immediately sent him out to find John, which he did."

Thomas, a thin balding scarecrow of a man, smiled at his friends and family as he continued, "The way Andrew laughingly relayed his end of the tale to me, John-the best outdoorsman he knew-had not only gotten treed by a bear and suffered multiple bee stings, but had lost both his horse and rifle in the process. When Andrew arrived to John's rescue he whooped and hollered while charging on horseback, effectively scaring the bears off. The mama bear and her cub ran across the meadow and disappeared over the hill. Andrew said that when John clambered down the tree his face and neck were all red and splotchy with welts from bee stings, and that John had never before looked so grateful to see him. Andrew relished being able to put his mentor into his debt for a change," Thomas finished with a chuckle.

"John Porter's entire adult life was similar to the fix he was in that day in the tree. He was caught between two worlds. I liken the bees to his life here in town as a part-time lawyer where he set about taking care of other people's problems and settling disputes. He was always there for his neighbors in need and never turned his back on anyone who came to him for help. I've often heard tales of John providing them with fresh venison or helping build homes for new settlers. He was generous with his skills and his time whenever he saw anyone in need. Columbia is where John's family and friends lived and buzzed about him as the bees had done, only with a little less sting," he added with a wink.

"The world of his bear was during the summer months when he took time off from his trapping and the law to travel into the Blue Ridge Smokey Mountains to do trading among the hidden Cherokee Indian Tribe. It was a dangerous territory he trod because of the occasional skirmishes that would break out between the Cherokee and scattered Catawba, but he loved the outdoors and trading. He and Andrew anticipated their summer trading all winter long. He truly lived his life caught between the world of the bees and the bears and he loved both equally."

"John was my part-time business partner and my best friend. We graduated from Harvard Law School together in 1864 and at the end of the Civil War in 1865 our fathers decided to relocate our families from Virginia to Columbia to assist in rebuilding the town after General Sherman burned it down. We worked alongside our southern countrymen while singing inspiring songs with everyone in order to help keep our spirits up. Columbia was also closer to the Cherokee for trading purposes, which John was pleased about."

"John and I were each other's best man at our weddings and Godfathers to each other's children. We were among the first lawyers to settle here after the War. John and his father did the hunting and trapping on weekends, and trading during the summer months while my father and I took care of our families and the legal work on the home front when they were gone."

"John was a very persuasive man in that he managed to convince me-a self-proclaimed man against 'women of class' working-to allow Amelia in our office," he chuckled. "She worked beside her father for the last four years as his very capable assistant. Then later he hired the widow Garrett so she could help support herself after her husband passed. John was not the kind of man to let my taboos against upper class women working stop him from convincing me to allow Amelia to help around our office. He was very proud of her accomplishments; especially for a woman doing work that I believed was meant for a college educated man."

"I want to conclude this eulogy by saying that when John died prematurely by a Catawba arrow, our town lost the best friend and most charitable supporter it has ever had. Our great loss can only be comforted in the knowledge that John is being welcomed by the love of God and by his friends and family that have gone on before him. He is now reunited with his son William, whom, as most of you know, broke his neck and died in his fifteenth year when he tragically fell off the roof of their home." "We will all miss John Porter and our love and sympathy go out to his devoted wife Sarah and his daughter Amelia."

The year was 1893 during the newly inaugurated presidency of Grover Cleveland. It was a chilly April morning in Columbia, South Carolina and the church bells echoed throughout the valley as mourners seeped from the church doorway. Soon the horse drawn carriages were at the gates to the cemetery and everyone was standing by the freshly dug grave. The sound of the rushing water from the nearby Congaree River could be heard over the hushed solemnity of the mourners as the Pallbearers silently carried the pinewood casket from the carriage to the oilcloth spread on the ground next to where Reverend Smythe stood. After he said a prayer over John Porter's casket grieving friends lined up and said a silent farewell as they passed by one by one, leaving only a few close friends and family huddling next to the gravesite until they finally departed to their carriages and went home where everyone was now waiting with food and comfort.

After the gravediggers had buried John's casket and the cemetery was completely deserted a lone Indian came out from his distant hidden spot behind the dense trees near the back end of the cemetery. He strode over to the gravesite and let out a loud wail of grief for his friend. He chanted as he danced around the grave and mournfully cried from the depths of his soul. From the sash tied around his waist he pulled a friendship belt woven with tiny colorful beads and imbedded with small luminescent seashells. Then he knelt beside the freshly unearthed soil where he dug a deep hole with his hands and placed the belt far into the earth to be buried with John Porter, the man who had been a blood brother to him for many years. He patted the ground firmly to cover any signs of disturbance and quietly slipped back into the trees from where he had hidden.

Reviews

If you enjoy historical fiction with a large helping of romance on the side, My Father's Daughter by Teresa Marotta may be the next good book you've been searching for. This novel is a definite must-read, especially if you're interested in Native American Cherokee culture, history and traditions.

Set in the late 1800s on the fringe of the South Carolina frontier, the novel tells a story within a story. The book begins at the funeral of John Porter, an affluent Columbia businessman who was killed during his business travels. As his family mourns his passing, his daughter Amelia's story begins.

Ostensibly an only child, Amelia secretly obtains her father's private journal and discovers that he had once been married to a beautiful young Cherokee princess who died during child birth, leaving behind a daughter named Taunais. On her death bed, Sleeping Fawn makes her husband promise that their daughter will remain in the Cherokee culture and be raised by her Indian tribe.

John Porter kept his promise and even after he remarried Amelia's mother, he made the decision to raise the daughters independent of each other, although he faithfully documented his interactions with each of them. The journals themselves are compelling and the author's delineated writing style in this segment of the novel is excellent.

As a trapper and trader, her father would leave for months at a time acting as a conduit for goods and services to what was left of the clandestine Cherokee tribe. In hindsight, Amelia realizes her father has been dividing his time between his two daughters. The shock of discovering she has an older half-sister propels Amelia to find and meet her at all costs, no matter the danger.

Knowing she'll meet resistance and outright opposition to her wishes, Amelia devises her own plan to shadow one of her father's business partner's next expedition by following at a safe distance. It doesn't take Andrew and his Indian companion long to discover their uninvited guest lurking behind them—they are trappers after all—but the men decide to play along and test Amelia's resolve.

Andrew is the son of Amelia's godfather, Thomas Hamilton (aka Uncle Thomas) who is also the executor of Amelia's father's estate. Until recent events, Andrew has viewed her as an indulged, obstinate child. Amelia was no fan of Andrew's either, which creates the perfect setting for seeing each other in an "opposites attract" new light. Although not legally related, they were raised as if part of the same family, given that each other's father was their respective godfather. The closeness of the Porter and Hamilton families might help to explain their lifelong indifference to each other—like cousins or siblings. It's safe to say that each of these characters discovers a lot about themselves as they see each other in a new light during their journey to unite sisters of different cultures.

In a very short period of time, Amelia's life is completely scuttled from everything she has known. She has found an unknown sister from an unknown culture, with the help of a prospective mate, in a matter [of] weeks since the passing of her father. More important, she comes to find herself in the process.

Amelia is a young woman of great strength and determination, which is important to a pivotal plot point in the novel's conclusion. Not one to settle for society norms in terms of woman's roles, Amelia is a feminist ahead of her time as is her half-sister Taunais. The women also learn that despite their geographic and cultural differences, they are more alike than not.

The author has a done a nice job of creating rich characters with good dialog that flows nicely as a balanced historic tale. The title itself has a nice duality to it as My Father's Daughter can and does apply to each of these diverse characters. ---Wise Bear Book Reviews

Set in South Carolina, "My Father's Daughter" is an engaging historical novel that takes place in the late 1800s after the expulsion of Native Americans from the eastern shores of the nation to an inhospitable west, through the end of the American Civil War (and after). It's the story of Amelia, a young woman who upon the death of her father sets out to find a half-sister she had previously been unaware of. Amelia joins with a trapper who is more hindrance than help. Along the way there are heroes -- and the need for one. "My Father's Daughter" is a riveting novel that combines romance with mystery with frontier adventure. The result is solid entertainment from first page to last. "My Father's Daughter" is especially recommended for personal reading lists and community library fiction collections. ---The Bookwatch, Midwest Book Review, Fiction Shelf

"My Father's Daughter" contains all of the best elements of a great novel. The author Teresa Marotta immediately swept me into the intriguing adventure. Not only does it have an incredibly compelling, well-developed plot, with interesting characters, it also has scenes that will make you laugh out loud. I love a tale with a strong female heroine. This story not only has one, but two. It also has a sexy, strong-yet-caring male hero. In addition to a wonderful plot, "My Father's Daughter" has a strong thread about the importance of personal values running through it. This touch greatly adds to my respect for the hero and heroine, and definitely adds to the suspense. This is a must read for all fans of historical fiction. ---Reader Views

A truly fantastic story with vividly drawn characters and a plot that really keeps you turning the pages. I didn't want it to end. It isn't often that you come across a novel that is not only entertaining but educational as well. 'My Father's Daughter' is just such a book. I must admit that I didn't know much about this time in our nations history, late 17th century. But the author has given us rich detail especially the customs of native Americans at that time.

This is a very personal book. I had to keep reminding myself that this is indeed a work of fiction and I was not reading about Amelia's real life. The style of Amelia's father's journals are very true to the way someone would write a journal in that day. The spirit of Amelia to find the sister that she didn't know existed until after her father's death is inspiring. Young girls didn't go off on long journey's by themselves in those days. It just wasn't done! The stalking and kidnapping of Amelia kept me on the edge of my seat. The suspense was amazing! You root for Amelia and very quickly into the story, you feel as if you know her. Amelia's courage and determination are beautifully portrayed by the author. The characters that surround Amelia are vividly drawn and believable.

This is a must read! 'My Father's Daughter' will remain with you long after you have read it. ---Charles Henry Jr. "Hondo", author

This story begins with the funeral of Amelia's father in the late 1800s. After the funeral, she cleans out his office and finds some journals. Some are about his travels among the Cherokee Indians where he trades each summer. Curious, she takes them home to read. Each night she reads several entries about his journeys. When Amelia learns about his attraction for a Cherokee maiden, their marriage, and the birth of a child, she is determined to find her half sister. Now the fun really begins when she teams up with a handsome trapper who takes her to meet her sister. They tend to butt heads with each encounter. Why? Because Amelia is stubborn, self-willed, and head strong, making the reader wonder if they will ever get along even though you know there's a great deal of attraction towards one another.

I like the fact that the author researched the traditions of the Cherokee Nation and was able to use authentic Cherokee ceremonies and beliefs in her book. This brought the story to life and what these tribes were like. I would recommend this book for ages 18 and older. ---Linda Weaver Clarke, author

I was not sure that I could get into this book, because I am not usually into historical romances, but once I began reading, I could not put this book down. I kept forgetting that this story was not real, and the characters were not real, because it all seemed so, well, real! This is not just a romance, though that does play a hefty part. This is also about a journey, an adventure, and also a bit of a mystery. A really great read! ---Hanging Off The Wire Blogspot

My Father’s Daughter is a worthy story about a girl’s journey into womanhood after experiencing a painful loss. I enjoyed the plot centering on the plight of the Cherokee hiding out in South Carolina after having been evicted from their land. I haven’t read many books set in this time period, so I found this aspect quite refreshing. Marotta’s descriptions of the land and the Cherokee way of life stood out and made me long to be able to take the trek through the Blue Ridge Smokey Mountains. In fact, Amelia’s time with the Cherokee is probably my favorite part of the story. I found My Father’s Daughter to be a very entertaining read. --Jennifer Porter, Romance Novel News

Full Book Cover Painting Front and Back, Without Text by internationally famous artist Detha Watson who is now the official artist for the Texas faction of the Cherokee Nation and will be painting their history.

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